Jamal Riley, the executive director of the Chester YMCA, shared the “2025 Strategic Plan” with the Chester Lions during their weekly meeting of Nov....

Chester YMCA executive director Jamal Riley

Jamal Riley, the executive director of the Chester YMCA, shared the “2025 Strategic Plan” with the Chester Lions during their weekly meeting of Nov. 14. Although the Chester Y is only one of the 21 Y’s under the Greater Richmond area, it is the third-largest with about 11,000 members. It is very active in the community, as well as at the site on West Hundred Road. The Chester Lions were grateful for the opportunity to  assist and work with the Y by doing eye screenings at the Y’s last health fair for the community.

There are five specific areas of focus on which the Y devotes time, energy, and programs. Riley identified two of the areas as Youth Development, designed to provide support in all aspects of the individuals’ growth, (i.e., academically, physically, emotionally, and spiritually).  One program has been developed to enhance academic achievement, and another to achieve success in Leaders programs and thereby empower them as teens. The next two areas of particular focus concern the importance of and education about Healthy Living. It has been repeated ad nauseam that all people should watch what they eat and try to get more exercise.  The Y intends to keep repeating it until it sinks into each individual’s plan for living. The second area, under Health, is Obesity & Diabetes.  The disease of diabetes has snowballed in this country, occurring more in our youth as well as in many adults who have no family history of or genetic markers for it. The final portion of the plan brings it full circle to Social Responsibility, which the Y and its members have for creating and nurturing all aspects of the community. The Chester Y has programs which reach out into the community in areas where they see a need that would not otherwise be met, such as Greenleigh and Broadwater. YMCA was started as a Christian organization and still adheres to those values and principles. The YMCA is open to everyone regardless of gender, race, religion, or socioeconomic background or situation. The Chester YMCA is an integral part of this community, and its values are fundamental to society.

Contributed by Carelyn Steele Sheppard