Bristol, Tenn. — The YMCA of Bristol will reopen with limited services beginning Wednesday, May 6. The decision follows Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s announcement on April 28, which provided guidance for exercise facilities regarding how to safely reopen on or after May 1.

“We are taking extra precautions in our facility to ensure the health and safety of our members and staff,” said Rick Matthews, YMCA of Bristol president/CEO. “We are committed to serving the needs of our community and will continue to assist and offer support to those who need it.”

The YMCA of Bristol, in partnership with the Greater Kingsport YMCA, will provide free Emergency Child Care for essential workers and operate in accordance with state of Tennessee guidelines to accommodate exercise opportunities for members.

Phase 1 of the YMCA’s reopening will include the following safety measures:

  • The YMCA will utilize a single entry/exit point.
  • YMCA staff will receive temperature checks upon entry into the facility. Those with a temperature reading of 100 or higher will not be allowed access to the facility.
  • YMCA staff will be required to wear masks and other personal protective equipment while cleaning and interacting with members.
  • All open areas inside the YMCA have been evaluated and redesigned as necessary to help ensure social distancing between members, including limited equipment availability and capacity limits. Signage emphasizing the need for social distancing will be placed prominently throughout the facility.
  • In compliance with CDC and state of Tennessee guidelines, common gathering spaces such as coffee lounge areas, social rooms, water fountains, group exercise studios, pools, showers, saunas, stream rooms, whirlpools and gymnasiums will remain closed for the time being.

The YMCA is requesting that members adhere to the following health and safety precautions:

  • Members should stay home if they do not feel well. Members of vulnerable populations, including those with underlying health conditions, are strongly encouraged to check with their doctor prior to visiting.
  • Members, as well as YMCA staff, will be asked to complete an assessment questionnaire for COVID-19 symptoms before being allowed to access the facility. Those deemed to be at-risk will not be allowed to access the facility. 
  • Members (other than essential workers) will need to make alternative arrangements for child care services as the YMCA will be unable to provide these services during Phase 1 of the reopening process.
  • Members will be asked to bring their own water bottle. Water fountains and bottle filling stations will be unavailable.
  • Members of vulnerable populations are encouraged to wear a face covering whenever possible, especially in common areas where other members are present.
  • Members should exercise on designated equipment only and respect all signage requiring social distancing. Members must maintain 6 feet of separation between other members and YMCA staff.
  • To ensure proper social distancing, designated wellness areas will have a limited capacity. At times of full capacity, members will be asked to wait in a designated area until space is available or to return later.
  • Members should help reduce the risk of exposure by wiping down all equipment before and after use.

“We must remain positive, and together we can come out of this stronger and united,” Matthews said. “We appreciate our members who have chosen to stay with us, and we look forward to welcoming them back.”

About the Y

The YMCA remains committed to strengthening communities in the areas of youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Driven by its founding mission, the Y has served as a leading nonprofit committed to strengthening community for more than 175 years. The Y empowers everyone, no matter who they are or where they are from, by ensuring access to resources, relationships and opportunities for all to learn, grow and thrive. By bringing together people from different backgrounds, perspectives and generations, the Y’s goal is to improve overall health and well-being, ignite youth empowerment and demonstrate the importance of connections in and across 10,000 communities in our nation.

For more information about the YMCA of Bristol, visit www.bristolymca.net or call 423-968-3133.

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YMCA of Bristol to Idle During Recommended Closure

Bristol, Tenn. — In line with the Center for Disease Control’s recommended policies concerning the spread of COVID-19, the YMCA of Bristol will be closing on Monday, March 16, at 9 p.m. and tentatively re-opening Monday, March 30, 2020.

The YMCA Board of Directors and CEO Rick Matthews announced the decision Monday.

“As an organization rooted in social responsibility, we must do our part and take the steps needed to help slow the spread of this virus,” Matthews says. “Our decision to temporarily close the facility is based on the advice of state and national government and health agencies, and has one central goal in mind – to protect the health and well-being of our community and staff. We will continue to monitor the situation so that we make the most informed and thoughtful decisions throughout this unprecedented event.”

Matthews notes that the staff is employing intensive maintenance and sanitation policies throughout the facility, and also preparing alternative healthy living resources for members to enjoy from the comfort of their own homes. These resources will soon be available on the YMCA of Bristol website, www.bristolymca.net.


About the YMCA of Bristol

The YMCA of Bristol is a leading nonprofit organization committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The YMCA’s mission is to strengthen the community by improving the quality of life and inspiring individuals and families to develop their fullest potential in spirit, mind and body.

For more information about the YMCA of Bristol, contact (423) 968-3133, or visit www.bristolymca.net.

YMCA of Bristol Names Matthews Chief Executive Officer

Bristol, Tenn. — Following a nationwide search process, Richard “Rick” Matthews has been named as the new chief executive officer (CEO) of the YMCA of Bristol. Matthews succeeds Chris Ayers, who will retire as CEO of the organization at the end of September.

A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with nearly two decades of Y-related experience, Matthews will guide the organization’s long-range plan of transitioning to a higher level of membership service, while overseeing program development, staff training and ongoing capital improvements.

“Rick brings a diverse skillset and extensive leadership experience to the YMCA of Bristol, along with a passion for service and commitment to the community,” says Dwight Owens, chief volunteer officer for the Bristol Y. “He is full of enthusiasm and has a proven track record of success throughout his 19 years of service with the Y.”

Matthews comes to Bristol after serving for 13 years as district vice president for the YMCA of South Hampton Roads in Chesapeake, Virginia. In this position, he had oversight of three family centers, a regional day camp, a budget of more than $10 million, and 10,000 membership units totaling 26,000 individuals.

In 2017, while also serving as executive director of the Suffolk Family YMCA in Suffolk, Virginia, Matthews managed a $3.2 million renovation of the organization’s Family Center. Under Matthews’ leadership, the Suffolk Family YMCA’s budget increased from $2.4 million to $4.4 million. He was also responsible for raising $1.25 million in new program grants and $1 million in new capital donations, all while overseeing an annual campaign of $400,000 throughout his district.

“I am truly honored and blessed to be selected as the next CEO of the YMCA of Bristol,” Matthews says. “I pledge to work tirelessly to uphold and build upon the great legacies and traditions the Bristol Y has established. The future is bright, and I look forward to working with the amazing group of Y staff members, board of directors, community partners, local government leaders and others who are dedicated to positively impacting lives in the Bristol community for many, many years to come.”

Matthews’ additional experience with the Y includes serving as center executive director for a number of Y locations, including the Central Florida YMCA in Orlando, the YMCA of Greater St. Louis, and the YMCA of Greater Mobile.

“After 16 years as CEO of the YMCA of Bristol and 35 years as a Y professional, I am excited to pass the torch onto Rick,” Ayers says. “He will be a great asset to our YMCA, and will continue the 134-year tradition of leading our Y in meeting the ever-changing needs of our community. I have no doubt that Rick’s skills and experience will move our Y to even greater heights.”

Matthews earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business management from the University of Maryland in College Park.

About the YMCA of Bristol

The YMCA of Bristol is a leading nonprofit organization committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The YMCA’s mission is to strengthen the community by improving the quality of life and inspiring individuals and families to develop their fullest potential in spirit, mind and body.

For more information about the YMCA of Bristol, contact (423) 968-3133, or visit www.bristolymca.net.

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