We made a difference today.
Almost every day as I hustle though a busy parking lot, this thought is one of many shooting through my head and heart as I start home toward my family.... We made a difference today.
My Y story starts 19 years ago in the summer of 2000. I spent the summer at home on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, as a college student working at a Y day camp teaching kids to swim. I loved so many different moments that summer, the camaraderie that I shared with the staff (especially my sister Kait), the pride campers felt when they learned a new skill or passed on to a new swim level, and the sense of purpose I felt as I was able to make a donation from my summer earnings to help a child attend that camp. I never knew which child I was helping, but when I watched the buses roll out in the evening, I knew I helped make their summer one of the best ever.
Summer ended as it always does and I packed up and drove the 14 hours back to Mount Pleasant, Michigan. I felt a new sense of purpose as I was taking on the school year. I would be changing my major, taking on a new course of study and I had this funny feeling I was just starting a life long journey with the YMCA.
Almost twenty years later, some things have changed. I have now worked for three Y's! Two were small-mid size stand alone Ys, but we never let size hold us back from impacting the communities we served. I am incredibly grateful to leaders like Joanie Sutherland, Tricia Michaelszyn, PJ Richardson, Todd Shuart, Beth Hardee, Charles Boehnkee and the entire team at Twin Rivers. You taught me more than I could ever put into words about the kind of leader and parent I wanted to be. You each also took moments to laugh with me and loved my family as we grew.
As a working parent, for me there has been no greater joy than having my children feel loved by my coworkers at each of my Ys. Building genuine, caring, nurturing, relationships is what the Y is all about. It's real, and it's awesome. My kids have always had times that they have to "hang out with Mum at a work" it's never been a struggle, they love the Y and they love that I work here. Although my daughter was strongly influenced by Miss Amy, a micro-farmer I worked with in North Carolina, and went through a pretty tough "we need to raise chickens phase".
My family has always made the decision to contribute to the Y's annual campaign at a level we felt was meaningful to our family. I'm in the Y every day. I see the good we do EVERY DAY. The decision is not a difficult one. As parents Eric and I want Mark and Emma to understand philanthropy. The act of giving to make a difference. We want them to desire change and understand that it is possible. This year, when I told Emma I was going to be staying late at the Y for campaigner training, Emma asked if she could come to the training. She feels like she's ready to take the next step in making a difference in her community. As a parent and a fundraiser, I couldn't be more proud that she was willing to spend the evening with adults learning more about the Y and how we can make a difference. It feels to good not to share it.
This year our family moved to Atlanta. It's been a big move to a BIG Y! One of the biggest in the country and this big Y is doing so much good in our community! Each day, the Y works to ensure our community has the support it needs to be its best. I’m proud to be a Y Champion to help give all kids, teens, and families access and opportunity to be a part of the Y – regardless of ability to pay. I am asking you to join me in my efforts to give all people in our community a chance to reach their full potential at the Y.
For more than 160 years, the Y has worked to ensure local kids and teens have the help they need to prepare for kindergarten, stay on-track in school, grow as leaders, and learn how to contribute to a stronger community. Through wellness and hunger relief programs, the Y helps people of all ages stay active and healthy. But, the Y needs your support of the WHY IT MATTERS Annual Giving Campaign to make this possible.
100% of every dollar donated has a lasting impact on the people of metro Atlanta by ensuring the Y’s doors are open to all – regardless of financial ability.
Please join me and support the Y by making a donation today. Your gift will truly make a meaningful difference in the lives of those who need the Y most.