On the Record
Mar 04, 2009 | 19985 views | 0 0 comments | 762 762 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As a boy growing up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Melvin Tse was a regular at his local YMCA, and it instilled within him the core values that he credits for keeping on the right path in life.

Years later, after successfully working with a variety of youth-oriented nonprofits in New York City and on the national scale, he is proud to instill those same values in a new generation of young people as the executive director of the Greenpoint YMCA.

Those values, which are respect, responsibility, caring, and honesty, are the foundation of the YMCA’s youth and adult program.

“I know it sounds corny, but I believe that young people today need an organization that will build their values,” says Tse.

The Greenpoint Y serves more than 10,000 adults and 4,000 kids, over 80 percent of which are enrolled in their programming with the aid of financial assistance or for free, and Tse is particularly proud of the economic diversity that is present but invisible in the organization’s programs.

“You wouldn’t know which child enrolled at YMCA program was receiving financial assistance. We have one standard for all the children here, and the Y does a great job providing for kids of all economic levels, it really touches me,” he said.

The Y provides basic educational and activity-based classes for North Brooklyn kids of all ages, but Tse is working to incorporate new, non-traditional educational programming into the Y, like courses on green technology and robotics.

“We’re piloting a robotics program, which will introduce engineering to a lot of kids who wouldn’t otherwise be too familiar with it,” he explained.

The uniquely diverse nature of Greenpoint, both ethnically and economically, is something that Tse and the Y work to take advantage of, and over the last century the facility has positioned itself as a community institution that transcends any one group. According to Tse, the adult fitness programs have become a place for the newer residents of the neighborhood to meet and mingle with the older ones and form stronger community bonds that may not have developed through the mere sharing of a zip code.

The Y is currently involved in their annual fundraiser that helps provide the financial assistance that is such an important part of their ability to provide for the young people of the community.

“We’re currently on pace with last year, which is something of an achievement in this difficult economic climate,” says Tse. “We’re blessed to be in a community that has embraced us. We’ve been here for 103 years, and people trust us and support what we do.” (Jeffrey Harmatz)

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