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City News

Mayor’s Minute - Benjamin Barnes YMCA

I am writing the Mayor’s Minute for February on the eve of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Day.  The last nine months have been hard, and we all have lost something.  The loss may be as minor as a missed opportunity or as catastrophic of losing a job, a business or someone we loved. It is in this moment, that Dr. King’s call to action – call to our conscience resonates when he stated that, “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

I believe Tuscaloosa has been steadfast, from COVID-19 to the civil unrest of this past summer.  In fact, we have grown stronger with a more fierce determination, especially for the underserved youth in our community.  

I am passionate about the importance of youth sports and outreach. I grew up playing soccer and football in our city, and went on to play football in college. I coach my son Eli’s flag football team, and nothing has brought me greater joy than watching them grow and learn to work together as a team.

As most of you know, the Benjamin Barnes YMCA is a pillar in our community that has provided these same opportunities for kids in West Tuscaloosa since the 1950s.  However, over the past decade, the Benjamin Barnes YMCA has begun to suffer hardships that jeopardizes its existence.  It is important to note that many of those hardships were beyond its control.  The thought of losing Benjamin Barnes’ programs is unacceptable, and thankfully so many in the community and on the council agree with that sentiment.  Over the past few months, the YMCA leadership team and the city council were able to forge partnership that will not only keep delivering services, but open the door for a new Benjamin Barnes YMCA. 

I love Tuscaloosa with my heart and soul, and it is inspiring to see us come together for one purpose – our next generation!  The last few months have not been comfortable, but I am proud to say that we are meeting the challenge