More than just a gymnasium and recreation center, Druid Hill’s YMCA has been proudly serving the Baltimore community for over 80 years. As the oldest Black-operated YMCA (also known as the Y), the center is currently undergoing a $3.4 million renovation project that will transform a deteriorating complex into one of the most attractive YMCAs in the area. But the cleanup project isn’t tied to just the interior of the building. The Y is currently looking for volunteers to assist with its surrounding neighborhood cleanup from April 26-30 and help with the setup for the center’s block party on April 30.

The center will be conducting a variety of neighborhood resurgence projects during the week, such as planting trees and creating planters for stoops. Members with the Y admit this project will benefit the community most, as the renovations being completed are directed with the Y’s visitors in mind. Impacting and helping the area is what the Y has been about since its inception.

“This is a very significant YMCA in the community,” said Michael Shacklette, president of the Michael Group and member of the Y Baltimore City Community Advisory Board. “It’s a historic landmark. It’s the oldest African-American operated Y in existence, but it’s also an important part of the community. It provides a health and wellness center, there are teens, family and senior programs that’s community-centered, there’s an entire afterschool program. We’re creating a 20-seat computer lab where computer classes will be taught to everyone from young adults to seniors. The Y is way more than just exercise, it’s about a way of life, it’s about community.”

Once renovations are completed, the center will be a state-of-the-art facility outfitted with a basketball court, hi-tech fitness center, computer lab, weight room, pool and the city’s first family fun center. Finding a complex that serves all ages is pretty rare but the newly renovated Y will attempt to offer community residents a groundbreaking venue.

Renovations for the Y and the neighborhood cleanup will both be completed by April 30. While most business renovations are established with improving customer sales and revenue, members associated with this restoration project often rave about what impact it will have on the community rather than the cash register.

“The revitalization project is going to give new vitality to the Y in Druid Hill,” said John Hoey, president and CEO of the Y of Central Maryland. “I think the most important thing is what it says to the community; the Y is there, we’re going to be there and we’re going to be an even better asset to the community.

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