Rediscover New Rochelle’s YMCA

By Joyce Farrell

So, you may think you know all about New Rochelle’s YMCA. Think again. Yes, children learn to swim there (in the brightest, cleanest pool you’ve ever seen), as they have for many generations, but today’s Y has so much more. The New Rochelle YMCA has flourished during the past 5 years with Jennifer Ryan Safsel at its helm. When she took over its leadership, the Y had a $1.2 million budget and was in debt. Safsel was able to secure PPP loans during COVID and various grants to revamp the building, which had originally been space that the Y shared with the New Rochelle’s Boys and Girls Club of America. The Club’s former space is now utilized by the Y’s Universal Pre-K and afterschool programs. 

With the assistance of Congressman Jamaal Bowman and Safsel’s expertise in grant writing, the Y secured a Congressional grant for education, which enabled it to purchase computers and iPads.  During COVID, County Executive George Latimer picked the Y as a remote learning hub for essential worker’s children. Additionally, because of Latimer’s commitment to programs for senior citizens, the Y’s programs for seniors, including pickleball, are included in the county’s budget.

With grants and county contracts, Safsel is able to obtain for the Y, she seeks to “level the playing field” to provide inclusion and equality for underprivileged kids. The summer camps, for example, include trips to museums, iFly, Kensico Dam, and rope parks, all of which are experiences kids from low-income families may not otherwise experience. 

The Y also relies on its volunteers, who assist in their Mobile Food Pantry Program in which families may pick up pre-packaged bags of vegetables, fruit, and meat from their parking lot. Pre-registration is not required, and all are welcome to attend. 

A 30-year member of the New Rochelle Y, Shicago “Louis” Diosadado’s words sum up the Y today. “It’s very clean, very friendly. You find in one place everything that you don’t find in other places. You can swim, do cardio, and lift weights. And – you have a free parking space. I’ve been coming here for years and years, and I’ve never seen this place as clean, as friendly, as professional as now thanks to CEO Jennifer Ryan Safsel.”

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