ES*MH YMCA Community Sponsor Spotlight–Barbara Vincent Exec. Director ES*MH YMCA


Mi-Asia Thomas & Fathia Obabiyi, Journalist

Interview: Ms. Barbara Vincent, Executive Director of the ES*MH YMCA

By:  JSEC Cav Chronicle Staff: Mi-Asia Thomas & Fathia Obabiyi


1. What made you want to become an Executive Director?

a. I have worked for five Executive Directors over my 25 years working

for this organization and all of them at the East Side Y. When the

position came available in 2015, I decided that I was finally ready to

take on the challenge.

2. What did you do before becoming the Executive Director?

a. I started working at the East Side Y in 1990. My position at the time,

was office manager. Over the years, I wore many hats and took on

increasing responsibilities including Membership Director, Sr.

Director and Operations Manager.

3. Please give me 3 words to describe you?

a. Positive, Open, Responsible

4. Where did you work prior to working at the YMCA?

a. I was a Real Estate Agent for Coldwell Banker.

5. What is your biggest challenge about working at the YMCA?

a. Finding enough revenue to meet expenses.

6. Can you explain how the YMCA is non-profit but still charges for


a. Check out the definition of nonprofit on this link. The Mission

of the YMCA of Greater Providence is ‘To build healthy spirit, mind

and body for all through programs, services and relationships based

our values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.’ Our Cause

is strengthening community. We are different from for profits in that

we are led by a board of volunteers connected to our communities

and we exist to support our community. So our focus is not on profit

but rather serving our community. No one at the Y makes a profit.

At the Y, we welcome everyone – we provide financial assistance for

those who are unable to afford the full price of memberships. We

don’t want to turn anyone away due to financial hardship. Each year,

the East Side Y provides over $250,000 in scholarships for programs,

membership and child care. This year, we raised $80,000. Next year

our goal to raise $116,000 to close that gap so we can serve even

more people. Our members support our cause through their

membership dues and donations.

7. What is the biggest challenge for your YMCA this year?

a. Competition of big new FOR PROFIT fitness centers that went in

down the street. Unfortunately we have lost members to them and

now run at a deficit of $300,000 which is supported by our other

branches that have a healthier bottom line. We are so grateful to

our loyal members who understand and support our cause.

8. If you could have one superpower what would it be and why?

a. I would have fairy dust that could be sprinkled on people to help

them live happier, healthier lives through caring for themselves and

others. They would pay it forward to benefit good of the world.

9. What is the most serious issue you feel is effecting the world today?

a. It seems to me that too many people in this world lack compassion

and understanding for other’s perspectives. The idea that “my world

view is right and anyone who disagrees is wrong”.

10. What type of programs do you have at the YMCA for teens?

a. Swim Team is very popular here. We have over 50 kids ages 6 to 16.

The older kids have the opportunity to mentor the younger kids and

the whole team learns team work and our values of caring, honesty,

responsibility and respect are part of the program.

b. Teens of Steel is a program that mentors teens in our fitness center

to learn how to use the equipment as well as teaches healthy living

habits like nutrition.

c. Teens are encouraged to participate in our classes – any teen 11 and

over can participate in Yoga, Zumba, Step and Core classes. Strength

classes like our popular Body Pump classes allow teens 16+

d. Swim Lessons – we encourage teens to not only learn to swim but to

develop a love for swimming and sharing those skills by becoming

swim instructors and lifeguards. Many YMCA professionals started

their careers as swim instructors and lifeguards.

e. Snapology – One of our newest program offerings is Video Game

design. This has become very popular and all classes fill each session.

f. Open Swim – We have open swim times for our members and on the

weekends, we offer a FREE community swim from 2-4.

11. Do you employ teens and if so how old do you have to be to work there?

a. We are able to employ teens at age 16 and older in our Kids Care


12. How long has the ES*MH YMCA been around for?

a. We opened the current facility in 1974 but the first YMCA on the East

Side opened in 1947 in an office on Thayer Street then moved over

the Tortilla Flats before the Hope Street facility was built.

13. What is done with the fundraising money that is raised at the YMCA?

a. All our fundraising money is used to scholarship kids, families and

adults in programs, membership or child care. We also offer a free

Cancer Survivor program that runs for 12 weeks 2x a week that

included free membership and workouts with a trained instructor.

14. What type of summer programs do you offer for teens to become

involved in?

a. Our programs don’t change much at the East Side during the summer

months. So all of the above programs would run during the summer

as well. We do offer summer memberships.

15. Are there any Teen Scholarships available for High School Seniors to

apply for?

a. Absolutely! Please stop by for a tour.

At the end of the Ms. Barbara Vincent had a question for the interviewer:

 In your opinion, what programs would interest you and

your peers that would draw you to come to the Y?

Fathia took a moment to answer and stated “Anything that has to do with Science and Math to challenge Teens along with fun activities that doesn’t seem like schoolwork would be great.    Additionally an ‘open sports’ program where we could play basketball, soccer, & volleyball, but just for teenagers”.

In closing its important to us to continue the relationship with the YMCA.  We support their programming and they support our after-school programming as well.  Additionally they have been sponsoring our JSEC Yearbook by placing an ad in it for the past 10 years. The ad includes a coupon for Seniors to participate in programs there.   Community Building is critical especially in the Providence and JSEC Community.  They also provide Teen Memberships that are used as prizes for our Annual Hoops for Hearts competition, which is a fundraising campaign here at JSEC that raises money for kids with heart disease.