Making a Dream a Reality: Fundraising underway for $17 million Beach & Bay Family YMCA


Parents, children and seniors are all rejoicing over the fact that the YMCA has made Pacific Beach the next part of its San Diego expansion plans.

On the corner of Ingraham and Felspar streets, and connected to the PB Middle School campus, the new PB branch will be named “Beach and Bay Family YMCA.”

Groundbreaking for the proposed $17 million facility, which will replace the building the YMCA is currently working from on that corner, is at least 18 months away.

It will have a Child Watch center (for when parents workout), a Kids Adventure center, group exercise studio, Wellness Center and outdoor pool. And since it opened shop in July, the YMCA has started soccer and lacrosse programs for kids, a cancer survivor exercise program and hired an executive manager, Mike Roberts.

“There’s a large interest in PB and a lot of passion for this project,” Roberts told PB Monthly. “We met with a lot of community leaders and members to explain what we bring.” In those meetings, he said, the YMCA was welcomed with open arms.

The San Diego County YMCA set the lofty goal of doubling its impact on the community by 2025. To put that in perspective, consider that its presence in the county is already second largest in the nation. As per best estimates, the YMCA serves about 400,000 people in San Diego. By building five more locations in neighborhoods such as PB, Carlsbad and Poway, the YMCA hopes to serve one out of every four San Diegans.

For now, the Beach and Bay YMCA is using the middle school’s facilities to run its programs. This is thanks to Principal Kim Meng, who wisely took advantage of the YMCA’s partnership with the San Diego Unified School District. Her students will enjoy special access to the facility as they share the improved grounds.

The present Y building was an old library belonging to the PB Middle School, and admittedly, is pretty unimpressive. There’s an office for Roberts, a conference room for meetings and that’s about it. This means, according to Roberts, that he focuses his efforts outside of his four walls, immersing himself in the community at large.

“People are excited to have a person focused on this initiative,” he explained. “One of the reasons people are excited is because when the YMCA enters a community, it listens to what community members want, and PB told us they want soccer and lacrosse.”

Roberts’ level of commitment is obvious in that he coaches soccer while tackling the much larger job of raising $17 million for a new facility. It’s an ambitious goal, and that’s why Roberts will need assistance. Two groups have been formed to help him raise money within the community — the Capital Campaign Leadership Project and the Founders Advisory Board.

“The Beach and Bay Y is already the recipient of a multimillion dollar gift from a very generous local philanthropist, as well as a couple other significant pledges,” said Brian Fish, head of the Founders Advisory Board and committee member of the Capital Campaign Leadership Project. We’ll have to wait to find out who these philanthropists are since the YMCA’s fundraising effort is in its “quiet phase.”

Fish is a poster child for the kind of community member the YMCA trusts to run its Annual Campaign, which is considered its “lifeblood.” He’s a real estate development lawyer in PB, making him an ideal candidate for finding contributors. He said he’s also happy to head the effort, after playing an integral part in bringing the Y to PB in the first place.

With all of this effort and high dollar amounts, it’s a joy to look at what PB is getting. Concept designs for the Beach and Bay Family YMCA facility show some very cool accouterments. In addition to the full-size grass playing field and walking/jogging path that PB Middle School already provides, there will be a Child Watch center, a Kids Adventure center, group exercise studio, Wellness Center and even an outdoor pool.

What comes with a facility like this is only part of everything the community gets. The more money the YMCA raises, the cheaper classes and programs will be.

Classes can even be potentially free for those who can’t afford what the Y offers. Scholarships for youths are also a part of annual fundraising campaigns.

The YMCA won’t make its goal of doubling its impact on San Diego alone. In the case of PB, it relies on people who want to see their town improved. All the improvements the YMCA can bring to PB require the support of the community to make them a reality. People working together for the benefit of kids, adults and seniors — while promoting wellness and better quality of human life — presents a reality worth waking up to.

The Beach and Bay Family YMCA is at 4606 Ingraham St. (858) 273-9622. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, (858) 273-9622,

How to Make a Donation

The vision is to build a state-of-the-art YMCA fitness center in Pacific Beach in partnership with the San Diego Unified School District.

If you want to donate to the Beach and Bay Family YMCA, your contributions are welcome. Find the link at or call (858) 273-9622.