20 July 2010
Henley YMCA communicates a Christian message through providing facilities and activities for the community
For over 150 years, the Henley YMCA has made it a priority to impact the community by supplying housing and sport facilities.
It is a different way of communicating the gospel, yet a very effective one: With 31 housing units, an active living centre, and a football club, the organisation has made it a goal to serve young people who are in need of help and guidance.
As an inclusive Christian Movement, the local community can experience the transforming work of the YMCA, which is supported and managed by many volunteers.
The housing project was established to offer affordable housing to young adults ages 18-25 and also provides four spaces for homeless teenagers who need structure and support. While each person can have privacy, the layout of the houses allows a sense of community as well.
The YMCA grounds also offer an active living centre with a diverse set of fitness classes and a football pitch.
Mike Ray, chief executive of the Henley branch, has witnessed a noticeable change in the area. "We are trying to reach out to the disadvantaged in the community and there have been many stories of development and progress. We took in a young man who was bankrupt and helped him sort out his finances and get his life back on track. Others came straight from prison and had the opportunity to start a new life here in Henley."
The YMCA facilities are mainly funded by people's rent, although flat prices are kept to a minimum. Investments and fundraising provide for part of the cost as well. "Our incomes gives us freedom in what we do", says Mike Ray, who is glad to see that the organisation is doing well.
"It is amazing to see that young people truly belong here, contribute to the YMCA and thrive in the environment," explains Mike.