Veda Ramsay-Stamps stepped into her role as Executive Director of the Crenshaw Family YMCA with one goal in mind – to transform the organization by focusing her efforts around community development.
Since taking the reins last year, Ramsay-Stamps has not only changed the branch’s culture, but overseen a major renovation. In the process, she has helped to elevate the community’s expectations for what is possible.
“My focus is transforming the space into a place where our kids feel welcomed and they feel like they can get lots of different types of services beyond just sports,” explained Ramsay-Stamps.
The USC alumna with a background in global education, also understands that sustainable funding sources and direct investments will help her achieve these goals.
Which is why she is so appreciative of the $800,000 investment on behalf of the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation and the Jordan Brand. Ramsay-Stamps views the investment as the first phase of many future investments that will help sustain the Crenshaw YMCA’s programming.
Making An Impact On and Off The Court
It should come as no surprise that the centerpiece of the remodeled facility is the indoor gym.
Featuring a fresh hardwood court, new backboards, state-of-the-art training equipment and colorful murals boldly painted across the walls, the near million-dollar investment delivers both style and substance.
However, true to Ramsay-Stamps’ vision, the upgrades are not isolated to the court. Local youth seeking after-school activities now have access to a fully equipped technology lab and plush lounge area.
“The Crenshaw YMCA has always been known as a basketball spot, but I really want to make sure that we are doing transformational types of work,” Veda continued. “I want to make sure our kids have access to high tech and highly innovative programs and services like artificial intelligence and opportunities where they are learning how to code.”
Ramsay-Stamps says that these types of programs and services are the vehicles that will take local youth into the next level, preparing them for success and making sure they are equipped for the future. She is really focused on providing educational improvements that so many youth in the community need–in fun, and creative ways.
“I actually have a degree in public planning and I owned a firm where we did housing and economic development planning for city governments,” Ramsay-Stamps said. “My husband runs that firm now, but that background really brought me to the YMCA with the serious intent of improving achievement gaps.
While she makes it clear that the YMCA is open to everyone, she also notes it is hard to ignore the obvious challenges facing African-American children in South Los Angeles.
During a walk-through tour of the improvements, Ramsay-Stamps showed the upstairs area which serves as a hub for local youth. The computer lab allows members to work on projects, while the adjacent lounge area serves as a safe space for youth to relax with their peers.
Ramsay-Stamps says they wanted something that felt comfortable and inviting for local youth, so Russell Westbrook and the Jordan brand’s investment really helped to curate that space and feel.
Near the end of the tour, Ramsay-Stamps took a moment to reflect as she looked out the upstairs window overlooking the remodeled indoor gym.
“I never get tired of looking at this shot. It all started with a conversation.”Veda Ramsay-Stamps, Executive Director
Crenshaw Family YMCA
“Having a space like this demonstrates to the youth that people care about them being in a place that’s beautiful and looks the best – not the leftovers. Their facilities should be top notch and high tech” Ramsay-Stamps detailed.
“It is also important because when people say they are going to make something happen, kids see the hard work that it takes to make something like this come to fruition.