NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A Newport News native, shocked to discover the YWCA closed Downtown, is on a mission to reopen its doors to the community.

Before the doors closed in 2018, it was a place Tamika Callis as a child and her family came to for generations, participating in programs like ballet classes. 

The mother, studying to be registered nurse, needs to raise thousands of dollars to purchase the building once it goes up for auction, all part of her goal to reopen a safe space for the community.

“It should not be closed,” she said. “We need more buildings, more centers down here for our children so they can receive support. So they can receive guidance. So they can receive the resources they need to thrive out here.”

Other community members, like Tamara Wills from Bridging the Gap Youth Program, are uniting with her to bring back this pillar in the community.

“When you are a product of your environment and things are not brought to you, then you cannot be held accountable for what you don’t know,” she said. “It has to be opened up and you have to have an opportunity.”

Yugonda Sample-Jones ran a mentoring program for young girls at the Y until it closed.

She wants to know why the city didn’t do more to keep it open and why they’re not encouraging others to bring it back.

“It’s like the city is holding this building hostage from the community,” she said. “So why not work with us with all the funding that’s coming from the CARES Act, from all this pandemic money, come and actually get this building open.”

For Callis, it’s about helping take back her community.

“It’s time for me to make a difference and I need this building to be open so I can do that,” said Callis.

She needs to raise $50,000 in order to buy the building as well as have the funds to restore the structure. Callis started a GoFundMe to raise the money from the community.

Anyone interested in helping her bring back the YWCA can reach her via email at