Posted by Tom Broad, The Tribune

Speaking before the Rotary Club of Humble, Lake Houston YMCA Director Chris Butsch (left) announced he has been promoted and he will be overseeing the YMCA's in the Y's northern sector. Talybra Hollins will be the Lake Houston Y's new Director of Operations. During his talk with Rotarians he reviewed how the YMCA has been making changes to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic and thanked the club for its support of the Y's Operation Backpack.
As he was introduced to the Humble Rotarians, Lake Houston YMCA Director Chris Butsch revealed that he has been promoted into a larger role overseeing the Y’s northern sector clubs.
“I’m happy to report that Talybra Hollins is the new director of operations for the Lake Houston Y,” Butsch told more than 35 Rotarians attending the Zoom virtual meeting Aug. 26. “She’s performed the duties for the past three- and- a-half months when I began my new position. Talybra is a good steward of our resources.”
Hollins was membership director, coming to the not-for-profit from a position with a corporate fitness organization.
“I had no idea how much impact the YMCA has on the communities it serves,” she said as she began her presentation. “It’s so much more than a gym.”
Hollins praised Rotary for their $8,000 gift to the Y’s annual Operation Backpack.
“Thanks to your generosity, we were able to serve 3,000 kids this year,” Hollins said.
She outlined the Y’s response to COVID-19 as the organization closed its buildings and furloughed employees.
“Because of the pandemic, we had to take a shift in our direction,” she said, “increasing our community support and outreach in partnership with the Houston Food Bank, identifying new ways to engage members with virtual programs at no cost, and restructuring membership.”
Since March, the Lake Houston Y and its sister facilities have fed more than a half million Houstonians at 20 of the Y’s locations. The Lake Houston Y also introduced no-cost virtual programs to members in their homes. This includes live classes with YMCA instructors, on-demand workouts from the Y’s YouTube channel, and virtual personal training from the Y’s certified personal trainers. Swimming Safety also is a major program at the Y, providing classes to Humble ISD’s Title I schools.
The Lake Houston Y provided day care for children of essential workers as well as its renowned Swimming Safety program to Humble ISD Title I schools, and, in cooperation with Humble ISD, held afterschool virtual learning classes “ …  giving kids a place to go,” Hollins said. “The virtual classes were very successful, allowing teachers to navigate students through free high-quality education programs.”
Shifting to the present, Hollins declared, “We have people back in the water!”
The Y, which has been operating in Lake Houston since 1979, reopened in June with a phased approach, offering classes, the wellness center, child watch and, of course, the pool. They implemented cleaning protocols and set up a reservation system to monitor capacity for safety and social distancing.
“And we continue to offer virtual programs for members who are not ready to return to us,” she said.
Like so many other business and organizations, the Y is challenged with low usage now, Hollins said, with just 45% of the members returning, resulting in furloughs and permanent layoffs of the Y’s full-time staff.
“The pandemic had significant impact on us, but Lake Houston is one of the higher operating locations,” she reported. “So many of our members continued their membership while our building was closed, allowing us to continue our mission.”
“And we are so grateful to those who continued their membership. Those who sent us a check,” said Chris Butsch.
Hollins thanked Rotarians for their donation, saying, “No child should be held back because they can’t afford the programs that the Y offers …,” asking them to continue their support. “Take what you have learned and share with others. Knowledge is power,” she said, “Support us with your time. And support us with treasure.”
An international Rotary guest endeared himself to the Humble Rotarians when he was introduced.
“It’s nice to hear Texas voices again,” said Tassilo Friberg, who joined the Rotary’s Zoom meeting from his home near Hamburg, Germany. Friberg is seeking Rotary sponsorship to study again in the United States.
In other Rotary news, the proposed name change to the Rotary Club of the Lake Houston Area will require the approval of two-thirds of club members who are voting, according to President Mike Kevlin. If the name change is approved by the club, the new name would not be official until final Rotary International approval is granted.
Rotary will continue to meet on Zoom during September.
The Rotary Club of Humble meets virtually on Wednesdays at noon. The Summer Creek Satellite Club meets the second and fourth Tuesdays at 8 a.m.
Story by Tom Broad, published Sept. 4, 2020 and reprinted courtesy of Tribune Newspapers.