Who, What, When, Where, Y!
As we finish the first quarter of 2019, I reflect on how quickly my first three years as the CEO of the HRYMCA have passed.
I vividly remember my first week at the Y. It was a week of introductions, listening and learning about our members, board and staff. I had not yet delved into the intricacies of our YMCA operations and all that entails. I was not yet expected to know answers to compelling questions, solve complex problems or manage interesting behavioral situations. It was by far the easiest week I have had! Even though I wasn’t yet acclimated, I immediately felt at home. My mom used to participate in arthritis classes here, my brothers played YBL and I broke my first bone as a 6 year old in the parking lot!
Our YMCA has a special feel, one that is shared by our members, staff and even visitors. This feel is unique and something to be treasured. As I enter year four, I can no longer claim the title, the “new CEO”. I now “own” the decisions, the successes and the challenges with my team. I think of Andy Pollock, my first board chair and Barbara Tytell, his wife, who both passed away within the past three years. They each held a great love for our YMCA and our community. As I spoke with their son Simon recently, I was reminded of the opportunity we have to leave an impact on this earth and those we touch. I hope we can all join together to create even more of an impact in our work here at the Y, for the lives of those who enter our doors and in honor of those who have exited.
As I look back, I am very pleased with the progress our YMCA has made since January of 2016. In the past three years, we have intentionally focused on staff development, strategic alignment, operational improvements, and facility maintenance and mission education. I believe we have been laying the foundation to best serve our community through a changing landscape. n 2018, our diligence paid off in many ways. The year end results showed annual contributions had increased by $68,476 over 2017 and grant awards increased by$114,517. Another notable statistic is a 59% increase in our individual and corporate donors! These numbers speak to the efforts of our Y staff and board team to increase our YMCA’s recognition as a charity worthy of giving. We have been able to consistently make small changes in the way we message our Y internally and in print and social media to ensure we speak to impact and accessibility. For an overview of last year’s successes, click here to view our 2018 Community Investment Report.
Our community outreach efforts and willingness to be “at the table” have also contributed to our impact growth. From our new programming at the Northampton Senior Center to our recent collaboration with Hampshire HOPE to increase opioid overdose awareness and Narcan training, we strive to address the most pressing community needs. Also in 2018, we completed over $500,000 of capital improvements and repairs to our mechanical, electrical, structural and physical facilities at both our Prospect Street and Camp Norwich properties. Our board and staff have carefully planned capital spending for 2019 to continue to provide preventative maintenance and ongoing updates. While many of these improvements are behind the scenes, they are vital to the operation of our building. We work with a variety of contractors and organizations to ensure energy efficiency and cost savings whenever possible. We utilize the savings programs through both our gas and electric companies.
In 2019, we will continue to assess our building and ability to meet the ever growing needs of our members and community. We are in the process of completing our community needs assessment, which will help us to determine our next steps with programming, fund development, facility updates and resource allocation. If you haven’t yet, please take a minute to click here and complete the YMCA community needs assessment for our area.
Our building assessments have been completed and we are working towards renovations to increase our impact in the community. We are partnering with YUSA to ensure our process is intentional and complete. While this takes time, we will save resources in the long run by following capital improvement best practices. If you’re interested in hearing more or assisting with our planning committees, please contact me.
As the needs of our community evolve so do the services of the YMCA. We respect that everyone sees through a different lens. Transparency and direct communication in a kind, compassionate, empathetic way is part of our culture. In today’s world, this is not always the case.
Our YMCA strives to partner with our members and community to create an environment that is safe and welcoming for all. We take pride in the YMCA core values of Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility and are hopeful our members do, too. We appreciate the smiles and greetings in the hallway, the eye contact made by a teenager as they hold the door for someone, the patience as people wait in line to register for camp, the recognition of the need for processes and policies so all may participate in the best way possible.
We are committed to our YMCA being a corner of the world where kindness and compassion live. I know our staff is prepared to continue to build upon the hard work we have started to increase our reach, impact and relevance in our community. We will continue to work diligently to help provide solutions to our community’s health need, to improve spirit, mind, and body for all.
The YMCA is more than just a building, it is a movement and one we are proud to be a part of! Thank you for all you do to help us make a difference in the lives of so many!
Julie Bianco, CEO