By Sheryl Woods and Mark Doyle

The newest YMCA of South Florida location now open in the historic Sistrunk community of Fort Lauderdale offers facilities, programs and services the community said they wanted there. More importantly, it will become a community gathering place that will nurture the potential of our youth by providing positive environment and opportunities and create a place that provides complete health and wellness programs for kids, families, adults and seniors; afterschool programs, community events and meeting space; preschool; workforce education through Broward College; as well as making retail space available to encourage economic growth and create jobs.

Mark Doyle is President and CEO of Holy Cross Health

One of those retail spaces will be a home to Holy Cross Health which will have a community health center to serve the surrounding community. This is all about creating an environment where the entire community can gather, get healthy and connect with one another. The impact will be transformational.

We also are bringing awareness to the importance of improving health outcomes for racial and ethnic communities. Through programs and services at the new YMCA and at Holy Cross Health, we can also shine a light on how we can work together to reduce health disparities, which according to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention, are preventable differences in opportunities to achieve optimal health for people who are disadvantaged by their social or economic status, geographic location or environment.

The importance of encouraging healthy living cannot be understated. The new L.A. Lee YMCA/Mizell Community Center at Sistrunk will host more than 55,000 people annually, with the goal of providing social, education and health services to low-income families.

In our community, the Y is a leading voice on health and well-being. With a mission centered on balance, the Y brings families closer together, encourages good health and fosters connections through fitness, sports, fun and shared interests. As a result, more youth, adults and families are receiving the support, guidance and resources needed to achieve greater health and well-being for their spirit, mind and body.

Sheryl Woods is CEO of the YMCA of South Florida in Fort Lauderdale

The local Y here has been listening and responding to our community’s most critical social needs for 100 years. Whether developing skills or emotional well-being through education and training, welcoming and connecting diverse demographic populations through community service, or preventing chronic disease and building healthier communities through collaborations with policymakers, the Y fosters the care and respect all people need and deserve.

The L.A. Lee YMCA is the oldest YMCA in Broward County, serving Fort Lauderdale and the Sistrunk corridor for more than 70 years. The beautiful new YMCA is on the property that for decades was home to the Von D. Mizell Community Center. Prior to that, from 1938 to 1964, the site was where Provident Hospital stood. At the time it was the only hospital in Broward County that provided medical care to Black patients.

The YMCA has named this new center the L.A. Lee YMCA Mizell Center in order to preserve the community and center’s rich history. Here we will meet the needs of the local community and strengthen the foundations of the community.

Strengthening communities is the YMCA cause. That’s why, every day, we work side-by-side with our neighbors to make sure everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.

Sheryl Woods is CEO of the YMCA of South Florida in Fort Lauderdale. She can be reached at (954) 334-9622.

 Mark Doyle is President and CEO of Holy Cross Health. He can be reached at mark.doyle@holy-cross.com.