For our interactive qualifying project we worked with the Central Community Branch of the YMCA under the Regional Executive Director, Mr. David Connell. We identified newcomers to the community and learned more about their interests and needs so that the YMCA can engage the diverse populations of Worcester.
The YMCA of Central Massachusetts’ urban locations – the Central and Montachusett Community Branches – are in the heart of densely populated cities (Worcester and Fitchburg, respectively) with significant economic challenges. The majority of individuals living in these neighborhoods are individuals of African-American, Asian and, overwhelmingly, Hispanic ethnic backgrounds.
Overwhelmingly, the language spoken amongst these individuals is Spanish. The YMCA strives to live up to their Diversity and Inclusion statement of “…nurture[ing] and support[ing] an environment that reflects, respects and celebrates our differences and embraces the richness of our diversity,” the YMCA of Central Massachusetts must bring to light different methods, techniques and campaigns to keep the Association fresh and meet the evolving needs of the communities we serve.
Worcester has many hidden secrets including the rich diversity of immigrants and refugees that call the City of Worcester home. As of the 2010 census, the city had the highest refugee population in Massachusetts. According to the Census Bureau, Worcester’s foreign born population was 21% whereas that of Massachusetts was 15%)
We (YMCA) have seen an increase of various “newcomer” populations within our service area and we wish to accelerate the pace of our understanding of their needs and how we can meet those needs. The framework of our project includes: (i) identifying 1-3 newcomer groups; (ii) identifying key drivers to interact with selected groups; (iii) identifying types of services needed by newcomer group members; (iv) identifying interactions around key dimensions (i.e.: lack of trust, conflict, commitment, and accountability), and (v) identifying partnership opportunities for wrap-around services.”
After in-depth literature research and a time consuming on-the-field research period, our team discovered the preferred activities for these groups which will serve as points of entry to the YMCA The programs that aren’t currently offered that we recommend are soccer, karaoke and sepak takraw. We also recommend that the Y forms more interactive relationships with other charitable organizations, provide immigrant transportation, and attend more cultural events. The Y would gain exposure and these groups would hopefully feel more welcomed to the Y.