I consider myself a ‘Y boy. I joined the Chinatown YMCA Youth Program in seventh grade and stayed through college, eventually becoming a volunteer youth leader. This weekend, the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Carl Nolte reported on the long legacy of the program and how a major renovation in 2010 has brought new energy to the Chinatown YMCA.
Ford Lee attended the YMCA as a youth, and so did his kids. In fact his daughter Kari Lee is now Executive Director of the Chinatown Y.
He remembered the girl the program helped five years ago.
“She was 12 years old and never had a birthday party,” Lee said. “She had never gotten a Christmas present in her life.” Both her parents had died and she lived with her brother, sister and grandmother. The Y threw her a birthday party to remember, complete with a tiara fit for a princess. The girl became part of the Y’s mentoring program and will be attending college next year.
Stories like that are common at the Y. Members become lifelong friends whether they see each other every week or once every 10 years. Three generations of Y members gathered for a memorial service this weekend for Stanley Yee (pictured in this story), a former youth leader and club member himself who died at an early age of 55. The memorial was held in the Y gymnasium where Stanley played a mean game of basketball and lead many youth activities. Friends sang some of Stan’s favorite camp fire songs and celebrated his life. It was a fitting tribute fit for a Y Boy.