Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New YMCA Open for Business at Justina Playground

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New YMCA Open for Business at Justina Playground

Article excerpt

Byline: Jessie-Lynne Kerr, Times-Union staff writer

It began four years ago in an 800-square-foot donated apartment on Justina Road as a way for the Arlington Family YMCA to reach children who couldn't afford to join or had no transportation to get to the Arlington Y on Fort Caroline Road.

Last week the Y, in partnership with the Rotary Club of Arlington, dedicated the new YMCA/Rotary Neighborhood Center.

The center is in the Justina Playground, just north of Justina Road Elementary School, and across the street from its former apartment home.

Completion of the 2,600-square-foot building is the culmination of four years' work by the Arlington Family Y and Rotary Club of Arlington, with assistance from the city and Jacksonville Children's Commission.

The new building will allow the Y to expand its after-school program from about 30 to 40 children a day to 60 to 70 each day, said Y Executive Director Emily Crozier.

Those youngsters have been getting homework help, participating in organized activities and receiving mentoring from student volunteers from nearby Jacksonville University.

The Y also has been operating Suspension Solution, providing a safe and supervised place for students who have been suspended from school to continue their studies. Other programs include one targeted at pregnancy prevention and another to train teenagers in leadership.

Crozier said the new center will allow even more programs, such as adult literacy classes, to serve the Justina neighborhood.

"Who could dream that our little apartment would become this beautiful building?" Crozier said to a crowd of Arlington Rotary members and others who gathered at a barbecue lunch to celebrate the building's opening.

Wallace Parker, board chairman at the Arlington Y, praised what he called "the passion and dedication of Bill Cesery Jr." in making the center a reality.

Cesery, an Arlington Rotarian for 21 years, is a developer and apartment complex owner who chaired the club's commission, which built the building for the Y. …

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