Local YMCA Is “All About Relationships”

Rick Politte, above, the executive director of the South Pasadena–San Marino YMCA, is looking forward to a summer packed with teen programming. Photo by Mitch Lehman

He’s been involved with the organization for 35 years, but Rick Politte, the executive director of the South Pasadena–San Marino YMCA, exudes the energy of someone enjoying their first day on the job.

Politte came to the local from the Thousand Oaks branch 2-1/2 years ago and his positive attitude has sent a jolt through the community.

“It is very critical for us to define who we are,” Politte said. “People often think of us as that one area of involvement based on what they see. Some think we are just a gym, or just a pool, or just a summer camp. In reality, we are a broad-based community organization. We have a saying that if you have seen one YMCA, you have seen one YMCA.”

With that illustration in mind, Politte said that all aspects of the South Pasadena- San Marino YMCA will fit into al least one of three categories.

“Youth development, healthy living and social responsibility,” Politte said quickly. “Anything we do fits into one or more or all of those areas of focus. For instance, our swim program isn’t just about learning a series of strokes. It’s also about water safety and social development. Everything we do is about a broader focus. And for that to work, we have to offer a variety of programs.”

One area of concentration for Politte and the local YMCA is teen programming.

“This is very important to us,” Politte said. “We are looking to expand our teen programs. We recently did a survey and the community told us we needed to do more with teens. Teens need clubs and other informal events. It is important to give kids a time to socialize in other ways and get involved in the community.”

“We just finished our winter basketball season and we had 850 kids involved in the program. That means we needed more than 40 volunteers to coach the teams.

Our society is changing and people are not volunteering like they used to. We are a good place to volunteer. And you don’t have to be a member to volunteer.”

South Pasadena-San Marino YMCA has a full docket with summer on the horizon. The organization will hold a Summer Day Camp in Lacy Park for the 54th consecutive year.

“It has been a pleasure to work with the City of San Marino and have them acknowledge the good work that we do,” Politte said.

The Y will also take 180 young people between 4th and 10th grade to Camp Whittle, located two hours from Los Angeles and two miles from Big Bear Lake, for a week of good old fashioned summer camp from July 21-28.

The climbing wall at Camp Whittle.

“It’s a great experience,” Politte added. “We also take 50 volunteers and kids in 11th and 12th grade can be counselors in training.” 

The Y will also be conducting what Politte called a “robust” summer swim program.

“The Y has recently revamped our longstanding swim program,” Politte said. “Drowning is the second-leading cause of death among children. We want to get them trained quicker.”

To prove their commitment to youth, the South Pasadena-San Marino YMCA is offering free memberships to any teen for use during the months of June and July.

“We want them to have a place where they can be active and safe,” Politte said. “We are also offering special classes for teens, including teen yoga and teen cross-training.”

About 1,400 young people play basketball at the Y.

But at the end of the day, the Y, according to Politte, is all about relationships.

“We connect people to each other through small communities,” he said. “Day in and day out, we work to get people connected. I feel that through social media people are less connected in a real way. At the Y, you can sit down and have a cup of coffee or out to lunch after a workout. That is a critical part of community. The better people know their neighbors, the stronger the community.”

The South Pasadena-San Marino YMCA is located at 1605 Garfield Avenue in South Pasadena.

Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 5:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.; Saturday from 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 12:00 noon – 5:00 p.m. For more information, please call (626) 799-9119 or visit www.ymcala.org/south-pasadena-san-marino

The South Pasadena–San Marino YMCA Business Spotlight appeared in the print edition of the South Pasadena Review on 4.6.18.