Knoxville YMCA opens doors to hurricane evacuees

Local News

As thousands of people evacuate the East Coast ahead of Hurricane Florence, the YMCA of East Tennessee is lending a helping hand for those who might be headed our way.

“We want to open our doors and invite anyone who’s been evacuated to come to us,” said Jim Dickson, the YMCA of East Tennessee CEO.

THE YMCA of East Tennessee is offering hurricane evacuees a little taste of home, with a place to go free of charge for a hot shower, a cup of coffee, access to WIFI, a swim in the pool, and even a workout or aerobics class. 

“Right now we’re trying help the evacuees, knowing that when they come to a strange town, they may need something as simple as a shower,” Dickson said. “But they also need something like also might need a place to work out to forget about the fact that their home is being ravaged by a storm.”

Dickson said they are prepared to help hundreds of people fleeing the hurricane, but helping the community is not something new, with the non-profit organization opening its doors on many occasions over the years during hurricanes and other natural disasters. 

“For me, the biggest thing I want to do in my career and my life is help people,” Dickson said. “To see in very tangible ways something as simple as getting in a pool and swimming some laps and not think about what’s happening at your home during a hurricane is a big thing for people to get through this and spend their time productively.’

He said he hopes the help will give people who had to leave their homes a chance to unwind and relax, and for a moment, escape their troubles.

“They’re going to be welcomed as if they’re being welcomed into our house and help them pass the time in a way that takes the worries off their mind,” Dickson said.

One does not need to be a YMCA member to enjoy these services. Just present a photo ID showing residence of either North or South Carolina. 

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