It's no surprise that last night was the Super Bowl. Whether you tuned in for every minute of the game, or maybe just watched the beginning and/or half-time show or commercials - it's certain millions of eyes were on the TV last night. Of all the takeaways or favorite moments of the night, the one that caught my eye honestly has nothing to do with football and everything to do with character, service and community - ironically much like the mission of the Y. Stay with me here...
In an interview with ESPN, Philadelphia Eagles player Mychal Kendricks said:
"You look at the outside world and where some of us have come from and where our family and friends are or what we’re able to do with the sport that we love, with helping people, being in a position to hold platforms that helps others or enlighten others, or just make someone’s day. There is some weight to it... When you’re passionate about something and you can feel it in your heart and your soul, that energy radiates outwards..."
Very well said. This week, our YMCA association and all of its branches will kick off our Community Support Campaign time period -- a few short weeks that make it possible for us to continue to serve our communities and use our "platform" for good.
What you may not know is that in addition to serving our members with countless healthy living and youth development programs, we hold every bit as high SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY to our character.
Each year the Y gives in excess of $1 million dollars back to the Chattanooga and surrounding areas. Every year we make strides like the following:
- Providing over 350,000 meals to school-aged children in 2017 (our eyes are set even higher for 2018)
- In less than 5 years, we've gone from 4 feeding sites to now 85.
- Offering 90+ programs to our members and community. We're adding more and more not for the sake of quantity, but because there's a real NEED.
- Serving more than 60,000 members association-wide and WE NEVER TURN AWAY SOMEONE FOR INABILITY TO PAY. Countless scholarships are awarded each year to individuals and families who need it most.
- Providing Safety Around Water to our members and community - a week of FREE programming all geared around making kids safer around water.
- Partnerships throughout the community to revitalize the sense of "community" through projects like Bingo's Market or Early Learning Readiness, a program is designed to help close the achievement gap for at-risk children ages birth-4 years old.
- Continuing the success of our YMCA Y-CAP program for kids ages 10-14 who have been referred to us either through the juvenile court system or the school system. Each child and his/her family has a personalized treatment plan which addresses their spiritual, physical, mental and social needs.
- Restore Ministries, which provides those suffering from addictions a network of support and guidance.
Literally, the list could go on and on. WHY IN THE WORLD DO WE DO ALL OF THIS? Aren't we primarily just a "swim and gym?" Absolutely not and a resounding NO.
While we get no money from the city or county, we aren't slowing down. We fund and grow so many of our outreach efforts through our Community Support Campaign and the giving hearts who believe in our cause and know that We're Here for Good.
Just as Mychal Kendricks noted that with HIS platform comes an incredible opportunity to change lives in big and small ways, we completely agree. We hold ourselves accountable to changing communities and lives... to empowering others and leaving communities stronger than when we found them. Kendricks said "when you're passionate about something, that energy radiates outward..." We want to continue to radiate outward into our communities.
The bottom line is that we serve so many outside the walls of our facilities. It's a huge undertaking. Also in our character is a desire to do the good work and not boast. But there are appropriate times of the year when we have many stories to tell... stories that will warm your hearts and make you glad you are a part of something good. Something that in a world of politics, conflict and negativity is just GOOD.
If you feel led to assist us in our cause, please contact your local branch. If you have a story to tell, we want to hear it! Call us or message us on Facebook. Together, WE CAN ALL BE HERE FOR GOOD.