After a weekend of exploring Boston (depending on whose activity tracker you believe this ranged from 44,000 to 60,000 steps) we picked up our Discovery Visit schedule this morning with a visit to the Parkway YMCA.
On arrival the reception area brought the annual campaign to life with a large Christmas tree and wall of stars representing pledges made by members and businesses in the local community. Philanthropy has been a key discovery throughout our visit as we have learnt about the culture of donating to the Y ranging from Board members (both local and association boards) through to staff and members.
Parkway Y was redeveloped in the last 2 years and the quality of the facilities are outstanding, we toured the aquatics area, fitness centre, gymnasium (and even had a tour of the boiler room!) before meeting in the community room to talk with staff about fundraising and their childhood development programmes.
From Parkway YMCA our next stop was Thanksgiving lunch hosted by Executive Director Billy Alves and his leadership team at Menino YMCA. We were met with warmth and enthusiasm by Billy and his leadership Team and it was a pleasure to be invited to share lunch with them.
Photo with the leadership team from Menino Y
Throughout our visit we have been fortunate to hear the stories of some of the people involved in the Y and over lunch I met Lyle Jackson, Teen and Youth Sports Development Director. Lyle shared his story with the Y which began at Springfield College where he found he was struggling with college and sought help. Lyle was pointed in the direction of Harry Rock and Erin Friedman who quickly realised his potential and got him involved in the wider YMCA Movement including a visit to London to see the work of some of the English YMCA’s. Following his graduation from Springfield College Lyle then chose a career with the YMCA!
We had the pleasure of meeting Erin Friedman, Associate Director of Springfield College on Thursday and in the spirt of Thanksgiving I would like to share with you a Mission Moment Erin delivered at the Massachusettes YMCA Alliance meeting we attended.
As Thanksgiving nears, I come to you with a simple message about gratitude.
In a community where people feel isolated, disconnected and are longing to belong, we have a place called the Y. Steadfast and stable - a place to ‘be’ and ‘become’.
In a community where children may fail to reach their full potential due to lack of resources, we have a place called the Y. Determined and driven - a place that nurtures the goodness in every child - socially, emotionally, cognitively and physically.
In a community where the health and wellness of children and adults alike has been significantly compromised, we have a place called the Y. Collaborating and conscientious - a place that renews and rejuvenates healthy lifestyles.
In a community where our social and political views divide us, we have a place called the Y. Unifying and unique - a place that builds bridges and professes to be the place for all.
In a community where new Americans arrive daily, we have a place called the Y. Warm and welcoming - a place that helps some of out brightest yet most vulnerable settle in. Let us be grateful.
In a WORLD challenged by conflicting ideals, torn apart by wars, lacking access to education, healthcare and recreation, we have places called the Y. Powerful and purposeful - that serve as beacons of hope, love and peace throughout 119 countries around the world.
Let us be grateful for our global YMCA Movement. The vision and legacy of George Williams. Thank you for your service to this great movement. Thank you for your continued servant leadership. Your willingness and courage to stand for what is right. Thank you for reinforcing that the Y is the place for all. Thank you for modelling the way. The Y way.
Thank you to all of our YMCA Colleagues who have welcomed us to your Y’s and shared with us your knowledge, experience, challenges and celebrations throughout our visit. It has been a pleasure to meet and get to know each and everyone one of you.
We now have a short break in todays programme to pack in advance of our departure for the UK tomorrow evening, before dinner this evening with the Director of Healthy Living, Bobby Kleinau.