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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Koreatown YMCA’s Rae Jin champions community and youth empowerment

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YMCA Executive Director Rae Jin

[Nex-Gen Leader: Rae Jin]

The Anderson Munger Family YMCA, located on 3rd Street in Koreatown, Los Angeles, is gearing up to celebrate its 10th anniversary next year. Appointed as the YMCA’s first Korean American Executive Director in 2019, Director Rae Jin has been at the forefront for the past four years.

A 1.5-generation Korean American, Rae Jin moved to the U.S. with her family when she was 5 and has spent the majority of her life in Koreatown. Now, she’s marking her 17th year of community service with YMCAs throughout Los Angeles. Apart from her role at the YMCA, she actively contributes to community service projects with the Wilshire Rotary Club and holds membership in the Greater Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce.

Q: How did you come to be in charge of the Koreatown YMCA?
A: “The YMCA extended an offer for the Executive Director position just as I felt the urge to elevate my personal leadership. While I was considering other job prospects during that period, my aspiration to furnish the community with resources and programs—which I didn’t have access to during my youth—tilted my decision in the YMCA’s favor. My journey with the YMCA commenced 17 years ago as a part-time staff member teaching children, post my graduation from CSU Northridge. Subsequently, I spent a decade in various roles at the Westside Family YMCA and then four years as an assistant director at the Westchester Family YMCA.”

Q: What is the role and significance of the Koreatown YMCA within the community?
A: “The news of the YMCA’s entry into Koreatown filled me with enthusiasm. With years spent at the YMCA, I’ve witnessed firsthand its transformative impact on communities. In a locale as diverse as Koreatown, the YMCA introduces programs promoting healthy living, social engagement, and youth education. Personally, I am driven to proliferate leadership courses, camps, and sports activities tailored for Korean American youth. I’m convinced that the YMCA’s youth-centric initiatives will not only uplift the Korean American community but will consistently improve year on year.”

Q: How extensive is the program offering?
A: “Currently, we conduct 39 classes spanning a range from swimming, yoga, and pickleball (a favorite among Korean American seniors) to sports like tennis, soccer, ball hockey, dance, ballet, and more for the community’s younger generation. Additionally, we have youth-oriented programs such as the Model United Nations, camping adventures, and volunteering opportunities.”

Q: When is the inauguration of the second YMCA center in Koreatown scheduled?
A: “Our team is working diligently to facilitate its opening this fall. The new center will be situated on the ground floor of the Senior Apartments at 4th and Vermont (433 Vermont Ave). This will serve as an adjunct to our 3rd Street YMCA, featuring amenities like indoor table tennis, senior-centric fitness programs, and youth educational courses.”

Q: Could you shed some light on the YMCA’s future trajectory and objectives?
A: “With our 10th-anniversary celebration on the horizon next year, our mission remains to continually expand and enhance our program offerings, with a particular emphasis on the Korean American youth demographic. Our aim is to knit together diverse social factions, including Korean immigrant families and the elderly. Being a community-owned non-profit, the YMCA’s sustenance is fueled by generous donations and the unwavering support of our board members. We ardently hope for the Korean American community’s continued backing, enabling us to further deepen our positive imprint on the community.”

BY SUAH JANG    [jang.suah@koreadaily.com]