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Posts published in “Day: July 31, 2012

Northeast YMCA is a community asset

By Christine Nguyen

It’s a building that’s almost impossible to find, nestled literally on the offshoot of a long and winding road, but somehow the Northeast Family YMCA has become an indispensable part of the North Forest community.

“The YMCA plays a big role [in these people’s lives],” day camp director Jared Hale said. “We cater to the children, but we have senior citizens who love the program. We have teens that love the program. We have people who are involved in the program and don’t even know… Whether they know it or not, they’re contributing to the YMCA and we’re contributing back to the community.

Walk into the Northeast Family YMCA on any given day and you’re likely to find community members of all ages, from toddlers to seniors. Currently, the Northeast Y has 330 memberships, which means that an average number of 1,000 or more individuals pass through the building each month.

Community Executive Director Demetta Landry says the Y prides itself on being a place easily accessible to anyone.

“There are kids here whose parents came to this Y when they were growing up.” Landry said. “We’re here to take care of their kids just like we took care of them. They trust us. And with the seniors, they know they can come here, get some good exercise … and do stuff, instead of just staying at home.”

The Northeast Y offers a variety of programs and classes, ranging from swim lessons and sports for the youth to aerobics and line dancing for adults. The building itself houses a number of facilities including an outdoor pool, a multi-purpose gym, two fitness centers and a playroom.

During the summer, the Y offers a day camp for young teens and kids as young as 3 years old, which Landry says is immensely helpful for parents who may have to work during the daytime and need a “safe place” for their kids.

The Northeast Y isn’t only focused on accessibility in terms of age either. Although the Y relies heavily on membership and class fees, Landry says it is constantly seeking out new sources of funding to be able to provide financial assistance to those in need, whether it’s through United Way dollars or the Y Partners Campaign.

The Partners Campaign works to raise money from board members, benefactors, Y members and staff to allow everyone to participate in the Y, even those who can’t afford the membership.

“It’s all money that we pretty much raise ourselves to keep us going,” Landry said. “Our rates are based on what our community can afford, so we work really hard to try to raise as much as we can because there’s a great need in our community.”

Currently, through the Partners Campaign, the Northeast Y does apartment outreach at Haverstock Hills Apartments, which was once considered the most dangerous complex in the Houston area. Through the program, the Y provides a variety of sports and enrichment activities to more than 700 youth who live in the complex.

But for Landry, who has worked at the Northeast Family YMCA for almost 28 years, this relationship isn’t a one-way street. She says the community has changed her life just as much as the Y has changed theirs.

“I’ve never really wanted to work anywhere else,” Landry said. “I believe in the mission, and I love this community. It’s my family.”

Brutal robberies continue at North Forest’s Commons of Grace apartments

Only weeks after a series of robberies and threats to elderly residents occured at the Commons of Grace apartments on Tidwell Road, Houston Police and Channel 2 News have reported another brutal attack and robbery of a resident.

This follows promises by management of increased surveillance and more security guards for the complex, as well as changes in locks and gates.

In the most recent incident of crime, it is alleged that four men accosted an elderly man, Percy Gipson, as he returned from work at 3:30 am on Friday July 27. He was allegedly attacked with a hammer in the hallway of his apartment building, beaten and robbed of his wallet, keys and a gun.

According to his grandson, Damil Gipson, visiting his grandfather at Memorial Hermann Hospital emergency room, Gipson suffered a fractured skull and was bleeding from the brain.

Regional property manager for NPR, the manager of the apartment complex, Maritza Miranda told Channel 2 that they are Òbeefing up the patrolÓ and working with authorities to stop the crimes. She said they have surveillance video that may show the perpetrators of the attack, and this has been given to the police.

Aldine ISD alumni Griner visits the White House

WASHINGTON – Baylor University undefeated women’s basketball team and NCAA champions celebrated their achievements at the White House last Wednesday.

President Barack Obama congratulated the team on scoring more points than any team in women’s college basketball history and recognized the players for their contributions both on the court and in the community.

The girls were honored for academic achievements as well as their volunteer work, reading to elementary school students, serving the homeless and other humanitarian work in Kenya.

Obama singled out center and Aldine ISD alumni Brittney Griner. Griner, a three-time All-American, was recently named Female Athlete of the Year by ESPN.

“This young woman is the new face of women’s basketball,” the president said. “She blocks shots, she rebounds, she’s got the jump hook, she’s got the dunk.”

Obama also commended Lady Bears Coach Kim Mulkey and the team’s seniors for being role models for his two young daughters and girls everywhere. He noted that the Bears were a shoe-in to be a favorite on his bracket next year.

Optimists meet new Chicken Club AISD coordinator

Chicken Club is an anti-drug program in the Aldine schools, aimed at the fourth grade level student. It is a project supported by the school district and the Aldine Noon Optimist Club.

The Aldine program was started about 10 years ago, and involves about 5000 fourth grade students in the AISD schools every year.

The outstanding feature of the program is a yellow tee-shirt each student gets, proclaiming their desire to avoid drugs. This works because it relies on “reverse peer pressure,” according to Optimist president Steve Mead.

With the retirement last year of long-time program coordinator Clarence Johnson, this responsibility has been assumed by AISD Assistant Superintendent for Administration Ken Knippel.

Knippel was on hand at last week’s Optimist’s luncheon, to thank the club for their support and assure them he will continue the program with enthusiasm and help from his counselor staff at each school.

Knippel has been with Aldine ISD all his 26 year career, first as a teacher and coach, then 7 years as an assistant principal and 13 years as a principal.

Mead, who is also an AISD school board member, explained that

“Chicken” stands for:

C – Cool

H – Honest

I – Intelligent

C – Clear Headed

K – Keen

E – Energetic

N – Not interested in Drugs.

All of these values are part of the commitment that the fourth graders make when they join the program.

The anti-drug program is similar to the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program offered to fifth graders.

Recognizing the influence of peer pressure on students to take drugs, the CHICKEN Club uses the same technique in reverse. Through positive peer pressure, students are empowered to “just say no.”

The club was founded by the Optimist Club in Phoenix, Ariz., and tailored for use in Texas districts by the La Marque Independent School District.

The Aldine Optimist Club was instrumental in bringing the program to the schools and has been an active supporter since its inception.