In December 2017, the San Bernardino Family YMCA, which is part of the YMCA of the East Valley, welcomed a new program director, Ubaldo Franco. Going into the fourth month in his new position at the YMCA, Franco, who holds a degree in psychology and child development from Cal State Long Beach, has also served at the Boys and Girls Clubs in Fullerton and in Long Beach in the past.
After leaving the field of community and service to pursue other career paths such as construction, sales and project management, Franco realized how much his heart was in people and service.
“I work best with people,” said Franco about why he is thrilled to serve as program director for the San Bernardino Family YMCA. “My heart is in working with the community and with families.”
It was not at all difficult for YMCA of the East Valley Chief Operating Officer Kevin Pearson to say why the organization is thrilled to welcome Franco to the YMCA family.
“He has a passion for kids and youth development,” Pearson said. “And his high energy style will carry him far.”
As director, Franco would like to not only continue providing the same family-oriented programs as always, but improving upon them and incorporating new ones to meet the needs of the community.
As such, he would like to see more teen programs that allow young people to explore and learn valuable life and communication skills, such as job skills and interviewing.
He would also like to incorporate programs that improve communication between children and parents, especially in the age where younger and younger kids are using smartphones more in a way that he believes could be disrupting normal speech development and communication.
“We want to see parents and kids working together,” he said.
And as a father of four in a blended family, Franco is also very much aware of the role fathers play in kids’ lives, so he would like to incorporate more fatherhood classes in partnership with San Bernardino Fatherhood and using curriculum from the National Fatherhood Initiative.
His own personal experience as the first-generation child of immigrant parents has also played a big role in his desire to strengthen family and fatherhood relationships. His own father was raised in an orphanage in Mexico where he did not have role models or ways of learning how to be a father.
“My goal was to be the best dad I could be,” he said about his approach to fatherhood when he had kids. “We play such an important role.”
And part of helping to strengthen bonds between kids and families includes having fun together, including the YMCA’s well-known swimming program, where kids learn how to swim both for fun and for safety, but where parents and kids spend quality time together.
In order to continue providing all these services and resources to families, Franco has also made fundraising a priority to ensure that no family is ever turned away due to lack of financial resources.
“The YMCA is here for families; we’re called the Family YMCA for a reason. We are here to serve in any way we can,” he concluded. “We are a safe haven for people looking for help and we have their best interest at heart.”
For more information on the San Bernardino Family YMCA call (909) 881-9662. They are located at 808 E 21st Street in San Bernardino.
For more information on the YMCA of the East Valley, visit http://ymcaeastvalley.org.
Written by Cynthia Mendoza