By SB Williams

At this financially “needy” time in our country and city, the Carl S. Sanders Family YMCA at Buckhead is remarkable for the joy and health that it is bringing to many Atlantans – especially to some of the less fortunate children of our city for whom, without the Y, the summer could have been a very bad experience.

Each day, for 11 weeks, 400 children came to the Y on Moores Mill Road to participate in swimming lessons, gymnastics, tennis, basketball, golf, fitness conditioning, cheerleading and more. The rafters of the gymnasium rang with the music of hip-hop dancing and the shrieks of group games.

As part of their Partnership With Youth, the Enrichment Program of the Buckhead YMCA includes an innovative Backpack Program. The program, which continues for the next year, provided breakfast and lunch for children, but also “backpacks” of food for their weekend meals. Without this help, they would have gone without food. The children’s schools advised the Y on which children needed this help.

During the camp week, their meals were provided by members of the Y or by volunteers from The Westminster Schools, who brought sandwiches, fruits and drinks.

While a casual visitor to the Buckhead YMCA sees state of the art exercise equipment, a beautiful pool, tennis courts and the huge gymnasium, what they won’t see is the activity going on in the complex of offices where the management plans and executes this smooth running operation.

Under the direction of Kristen McEwen and senior program director Amy Grames, a dedicated staff carries out the Wellness Program for members ages 13 and older that includes classes in dance, yoga, fitness exercise, swimming, tennis, and other activities. There’s also the Partnership With Youth program that offers 65 needy children tutoring in schoolwork, but also activities for four hours each afternoon after school.

This fall, the Y offers many classes for adults, including ballroom dancing, and children, who can also study ballroom along ballet, tap and hip- hop jazz. A new soccer program begins this fall for ages 3 to 19.

The Buckhead YMCA is always in need of donations of money or food. For information on how to contribute, call Courtney Severson at (404) 350-9292. For a full schedule of events, visit www.ymcaatlanta.org.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.