Gina Fromer: Reconnect, Re-ignite, Re-empowering our BVHP Youth
We recently were able to track down the very busy Gina Fromer, District Vice President YMCA, to capture her thoughts on our ever-evolving community, powerful Y programs that are making an impact, and an inside look from someone who has made Bayview Hunters Point their “home” for many years.
Q: The YMCA Bayview website describes what inspires you, specifically “helping young residents of Bayview Hunters Point find work and pursue an education is not just part of her job – it’s a calling.” Can you describe someone who was a role model for you growing up in 94124, and how they shaped your life, or were an inspiration to you and your career?
Gina Fromer: One of the most inspiring individuals who helped to shape my life, beside my mom who was my ‘Shero’, was Aunt B, The Director of Youth Park in Hunters Point. Growing up, as a child, I always had a place to ” play safe” – a place where I knew there was someone who cared about me, watched over me, feed me, and made sure I always had a great day. Aunt B, was tough and pulled no punches with the city leaders. She made sure her kids had what they needed to be productive adults. She cared and nurtured us. I was in class with her son at All Hallows Catholic School, so she had a special eye on me. I actually had my first job as a youth counselor at 14 years old at the youth park.
Q: You have long standing roots in the community. What do you love most about BVHP?
Gina Fromer: This question is asked of me a lot. I love the beautiful views and weather. Growing up in BV, I did not realize how wonderful our part of the city was. We played in every corner of Bayview. It was safe back then. I did not know what I had back then. I know now, and that is why many people are moving into Bayview…It is beautiful….
Q: What is something that others may not know about the area or you personally?
Gina Fromer: I was born and raised in Bayview Hunters Point, right on West Point Rd. I still go to the church I was baptized in, sing in the choir and run a food pantry for my church and the community. I live in Marin, but come to Bayview 7 days a week. Wow that is commitment to community….
Q: What program(s) do you feel creates the most impact in the community at the YMCA?
Gina Fromer: Wow, so many of our programs have an impact of the future of our community. The one I feel has an impact today and will change the scope of life in our community is our Center for Academic re-entry and Empowerment – CARE. The CARE program is a school for truant youth to reengage their education and life goals. Youth come in at different levels and we meet them where they are at – some teens do not think they will live past the next week. Our youth are put on a path to graduate with a map to graduation strategy and goals.
IF we are able to reconnect, re-ignite, re-empower our young people to graduate and change the scope of their life pattern, it will change our community. Those young people will become contributors to their community, leaders of their community, and change the educational patterns of our community. We believe in empowering our youth to advocate for themselves toward the social justice, and ultimately the social change needed to move their community forward. The youth programs of the BVHP YMCA are core to this change – community change.
Q: Which has been the most popular class or program in 2011-2012?
Gina Fromer: The CARE program graduated 35 students this year. We hire 2 students for internships. All are on different pathways. True impact: 70 of our enrolled youth are reengaged back in school; clearly popular with the teens and families. I also believe the work we are doing in Vis Valley and Huntersview are critical to our city and community.
Q: Bayview Hunters Point is undergoing a revitalization process, and the YMCA recently got its own share of fresh energy through an extensive remodel. What’s been your favorite aspect of the remodel?
Gina Fromer: WOW. The entire building has had a positive impact on the community. My favorite aspect of the remodel is this next phase – Our Teen Resource Center, Community Learning Kitchen, Community Social Hall, and soon – Preschool.
This is exciting. Also the exterior painting and new windows – the community will have a new Y!
Q: Any new classes, programs or additions that you are working on for 2012-2013 that you’d like to share?
Gina Fromer: In 2012 and 2013, we are expanding our wellness programs to include a new cardio studio, yoga and aerobic studio, and showers. Our goal is to contribute to a healthier community.
Q: We understand that volunteerism plays a vital role in community, and there are a lot of ways that the public can help shape its own future. Is there one individual that you would like to recognize for outstanding community involvement?
Gina Fromer: I would love to recognize Dr. Olivia Herriford. Olivia sits on our board and has been instrumental in bringing the Dept of Environment and the CDC work to our doors. We have been working with 20 public housing residents to change the way pesticides are used in housing units and in the greater community. It is so empowering when families begin to advocate for themselves and their neighbors.
The Bayview Hunters Point Community is home for me. The work I do with the Y and in the community is life work. I am honored to be given the opportunity to work with so many great staff, families, and community organizations.