All Roads Lead to the Center

We on the board of the Yucca Mesa Improvement Association believe it’s time for our community to dust itself off, make some adjustments, and start moving forward in the world we now find ourselves in.

The Yucca Mesa Improvement Association is a membership driven 501c3 collection of neighbors that was founded in 1961 to improve the Yucca Mesa area as the town of Yucca Valley started to grow.

Over the years, the YMIA has helped this community grow in positive ways, according to the needs of those who live here. In the past, we’ve been the starting point for neighbors to let the county know how it can best serve our community. We’ve been the “center,” where people meet each month for potlucks, entertainment, and informative presentations. We’ve also been a voting site for every election for years.

The community center is rented each month by scouts, homeschool groups, birthdays, weddings, club meetings, and more. And in the recent past, it has been home to the annual Mesa Fest, an all-day community event that features local music, games, food, and vendors, not to mention a Beer Garden filled with local home brewing clubs all over the basin.

When the pandemic started back in March of 2020, the YMIA shut down along with the rest of the state. We cancelled all events for the foreseeable future and held our board meetings by conference call. As the pandemic wore on, like you, we all simply did our best to keep things afloat in stressful and uncertain times.

In 2021, as the state began to tentatively open for business once again, the center has been rented out to a few small events. That income, along with our savings, has allowed the YMIA to pay its bills. There was one act of vandalism that we’ve had to clean up, but outside of that, the center sits and waits for our return.

Now is the time, but return to what?

Not only in our neighborhood, but all over the United States, community involvement, including social clubs and sports groups, had been declining long before the pandemic began. There is much debate about why. But the pandemic has shifted something in the world. Maybe it’s time to refocus and rethink what it means to be a community, especially in the California desert.

Our neighborhood is changing rapidly. Once again, those who wish to escape the madness of the city are heading out to the deserts, some for room to grow, some for the peace and quiet. But city people’s version of “peace and quiet” can be much different than ours. Could it help if we got to know them and bring them into our circle instead of shutting them out?

While it is nice to see pretty new homes going up in the empty lots between houses, along with the rise in our own property values, it does mean more neighbors and possibly more conflict. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could reach out to those people in the ways of our grandparents, and make new friends?

How can the YMIA and the community center help facilitate that and more? That’s exactly what we need to get together and start talking about. How can meet the needs of the existing community? What can we do to bring people together and make this community better for all of us? What can we offer in these changing times?

The YMIA is volunteer driven and that means we need you, and many others. A strong membership number is how we get our voice heard at county meetings. The membership dues we pay each year are how we keep the lights on. And volunteers are how we get the work done that keeps our neighborhood that awesome place we all call home.

Now is the time, not to hunker down and put up walls and fences, but to come together as a community.