Thu. Jun 23rd, 2022
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Once you learn about the Bertie YMCA, you will be amazed at how much they do for Bertie County residents.

Do you remember the famous children’s tale about the little train engine that had to climb a steep mountain? The hill was steep, and the journey was hard. But the determined little engine mustered all its steam and chug-chugged all the way to the top.

Like that locomotive engine, the Bertie YMCA staff continually pushes to exceed all expectations and deliver the gift of better health to the community.

Besides the extensive programming that happens in a relatively small facility, here’s a super-impressive fact. The facility achieves so many objectives with a small staff. In fact, the Bertie County YMCA, Inc. operates with just two full-time staffers–Casey Owens, Director, and Tamechia Cherry, Assistant Director. The duo works in tandem to administer their programs. Cherry describes Owens as the face of their programs who gets out and connects with people. On the other hand, she is more comfortable staying behind the scenes, managing grant writing, and implementing policy decisions.

In addition to the two full-timers, the YMCA has about a dozen indispensable part-time employees. Those part-timers serve in many capacities. Think class instructors, front desk greeters, member services reps, and sanitation workers.

The location is one of the smallest YMCA locations in the United States. As a stand-alone location, with no other branches, they must obtain all funding on a local level for the 501c3 organization.

Despite those challenges, the Bertie YMCA serves as a beacon of hope in the community. Here, all people are welcome, and parents find affordable and positive activities for their children.

Offerings of the Bertie YMCA

Bertie News spoke with Tamechia Cherry about all their offerings, and we asked her why she and Casey continue to do the work. She answered without hesitation:

“For the kids–we do it for the kids.”

Tamechia Lee Cherry, Assistant Director, Bertie

Owens and Cherry have a heart for serving the community, especially the children. But they have plenty of healthful adult programming, as well.

This facility offers many opportunities to the local community.

  • Summer camp for kids
  • COVID testing site
  • Tutoring
  • Exercise classes for adults
  • Children’s classes and sports
  • Free play basketball at the Joseph Acree Gymnasium in Aulander (summertime only)

We’ll take a deeper dive into some of the most popular programmings.

bertie ymca dance class
Bertie County YMCA Dance Class, from a 2019 Facebook post | Photo used with express consent.

Winter Basketball Program

The YMCA operates a winter basketball program each year, with practice starting in December and the first game scheduled for early January.

The basketball program includes people from age five through adults. In fact, Cherry noted that they even have some spry seniors who join the fun.

Players can practice at every local elementary school gym through a partnership with the Bertie Public Schools. These practice sites are essential to making the sport accessible, even to those in the most rural parts of the county. They play games at the Bertie Middle School on Saturdays during the winter months.

Registration is open right now.

Winter Cheerleading

In addition to winter basketball, the Bertie YMCA offers a cheerleading team, the Diamond Cheer Squad. The Diamonds cheer on the basketball players at their games each Saturday, giving team members real-world cheer experience.

Kids aged from five to thirteen can register for cheer–and registration is already open!

Dance Classes for Children

Dance classes for children aged two to eighteen started the second week of September. However, the lessons still have open spots, and they run until the end of the school year.

Dance classes include (class schedules subject to change due to COVID):

  • Hip Hop: Tuesday from 6 to 7 pm for K-2nd graders; 7 to 8 pam for 3rd through 5th graders. Middle through high schooler hip hop dance is from 7 to 8 pm on Thursday
  • Ballet and Tap: Wednesday from 3:45 to 4:30 pm preschool aged children; 4:30 to 5:30 for kindergarteners through 2nd grade; 5:30 to 6:30 pm for 3rd through 5th graders; 6:30 to 7:30 pm for middle school and high school age dancers.
  • Praise Dance: All ages dance on Thursday 6 pm to 7 pm.

Dance instructors Wanda Rossman and Sharea Williams guide your little ones in a fun and supportive environment.

Adult Line Dance Classes

Adult line dance classes happen every Saturday at 11 am.


Master William Burke of Ahoskie’s Jakarta School of Martial Arts turns the Bertie YMCA into his dojo every Monday and Wednesday evening, teaching karate to children from five to eighteen. Karate class is a year-round program and enrolls continuously.

Master Burke is a sixth-degree blackbelt.

bertie ymca karate class with master burke
Bertie County YMCA karate class with Master Burke | Photo from a 2017 Facebook post, used with express consent.

Exercise and Fitness Classes

YMCA members have access to the best exercise equipment in Bertie County, along with fun fitness classes to add some zing to your fitness routine.

  • Weightlifting
  • Aerobics
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Zumba
  • Toning class

The sheer volume of offering all these programs on a non-profit budget, and in a small facility, in a remarkable feat. So like the little engine from that classic children’s storybook, they continue to chug-chug along. To their entire committed staff, they plan to continue to forge new partnerships and devise new strategies to deliver a mentally and physically fit lifestyle to Bertie County residents.

If you are interested in joining the Bertie YMCA, enrolling in an athletic program or class, or donating, contact the YMCA at 252.794.9622.

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