What is the first thing you think about when you hear or see the the YMCA sign as you drive by the . It's more than just four letters.
It's likely to make you smile and maybe want to sign and dance! Then you probably think about swim lessons, summer camp, youth sports, senior programs, or maybe basketball, Toastmasters or Father’s Day? These programs have been associated with the Y for many, many decades, several of them getting their start at a YMCA.
A child is having fun in a safe environment because he is attending summer camp; an active senior, who lives alone, gets ready to join her friends on a day trip to a local attraction; a mother works out on a treadmill, while her husband and son shoot hoops in the gymnasium; her daughter is practicing soccer and her twins are in Cool Kids playing ping-pong and a father is volunteering his time to coach baseball. What do all of these people have in common? They are members of a YMCA.
But wait you say! Other organizations now offer these same programs too! What makes the Y programs any different from everyone else’s? Why should you send your child to the Y’s afterschool program instead of using the program offered at his school? Why should you attend a senior computer class at the Y instead of at the local recreation center?
Simply put the Y is much more than programs. It is not the product that the Y offers that sets them apart but what it does for the child, family, senior and community, a sense of giving back. What sets the Y apart from these other organizations is a sense of belonging, a sense of family. An impact that is felt when people connect through different programs, a feeling that is not tangible but very concrete.
The Y is dedicated to connecting communities by reaching out to kids in need through programs structured to keep them off the streets or from being home alone and to families and neighbors with activities designed to bring them together. The Y is open to all regardless of age, creed, race or the ability to pay and is for youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.
The next time you hear or see the letters YMCA don’t just think programs but think of it as a place where you can volunteer, get involved in the community, involve your family in exercise and physical activity and a place that helps to create individual pride and a sense of community.