Park South_MP

Rodrigua Ross, Executive Director of the Park South YMCA, shares her perspective of the Park South Meal Program being offered during the Coronavirus pandemic. Through this defining moment, we can see the importance of standing in the gaps, and letting our community know that the YMCA is here for good. 

“I think I have come to realize that defining moments aren’t necessarily defined in the particular moment.  Rather, it seems that many moments (some we notice, others we don’t) lead up to it. 

Who would have thought that over 3 years ago when the Park South YMCA was going through an evolutionary shift, that shift would lead to the definition of this moment for us. 

Only through the intentional development of thought leaders and teams, given the permission to engage radical shifts in thinking for the greater good, would I be able to stand in this defining moment.  

I have always noticed that opportunity gaps exist.  It has been something that fascinated me and aggravated me simultaneously.  When this leadership created the space and opportunity for us to engage in diversity and inclusion work, it allowed us to look deeper into gaps known and unknown. 

The thing is, once you know about something, you know.  Since we have a better understanding of the equity struggles and opportunity gaps that exist in our society, when these struggles get worse and these gaps widened it heightened our responsibility to help stand in them. 

 So, we did.  We are setting up ways for the least of us to not be forgotten, and for the most essential of us to get support.  

This week we were able to serve kids and families in some of our already established spring break camps as well as pull together a strategy and implement Emergency Child Care across our city. 

 As of Saturday, March 21st,  the Park South YMCA was able to distribute 6000 pounds of fresh produce, (500 individual bags), 200 bags of toiletries and essentials, and 100 senior only food and snack bags in a community that is feeling isolated and cut off more than usual.  People walked, rode bikes, used motorized wheelchairs, took the bus, and drove to get here and get items.  For five hours we were methodical and steady.  And we served everyone.  And we did it with our friends.  United Healthcare, In the City for Good, Miles of Freedom, the North Texas Food Bank, and The Y were able to galvanize and go! 

 We did this while managing a few things in reverence to the seriousness of the global pandemic. 

  • We only had four people in the facility the entire time.  

  • We turned our parking lot into a social distancing learning space.  We had physical markers along our fence line and repurposed of parking spaces as personal boxes which allowed us to teach individuals what real social distancing is and leave a physical reminder for them to see. 

  • We used 10 volunteers to execute the entire project for the entire five hours of distribution and four hours of prep.  Well, maybe eight and a half….. I was the DJ and the one who started the soul train line and electric slide to help pass the time, and our board chair Maurice West didn’t stop me! 

Just about everyone who received a bag asked will we be doing this again.  I boldly told them, “Yes indeed!”  As long as the Lord and the Law allow! 

To see people whose desperate primary needs that outweighed their fear, and people whose desperate need to serve that outweighed their fear, together in a safe way, was in fact MY defining moment.” 


Rodrigua Ross

District Executive Director

YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas