Monday, March 4, 2024

The true community value of the Y: “We’re more than just a gym. We’re a cause.” [Free Read]

*photo credit to Tyler Brantley Photography 

While some use their local YMCA as a place to exercise or swim, YMCA’s true value represents and serves a much larger purpose in our communities than simply a place for us to workout. (It is also more than a popular 70’s disco song still enjoyed by all generations.)

Since its inception, the YMCA of Southeastern North Carolina (the “Y”) has been a cause-driven organization of a dedicated community of men, women and children with a shared commitment and mission to nurture the potential of kids, promote healthy living and foster a sense of social responsibility. Through its numerous programs encompassing Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility, the Y aims to strengthen its local communities and enhance the lives of the elders, adults and youth it serves in its communities with its facilities and programs.

With its community-oriented mission and values, the Y stands as an indispensable community pillar and historic organization, with a proven record of positively impacting and benefiting its community. In addition to the use of its facilities, the Y provides a multitude of programs to benefit all members in its community – ranging from childcare to its teen leadership programs to its array of physical rehabilitation and exercise classes to their evidenced-backed programs targeting chronic health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure to its child-obesity education program for families and many more.

This brief cursory glance of the wide scope of programs offered at the Y, combined with its long-standing commitment to serving its community, should once and for all, erase any notion limiting the Y to simply being a gym. The Y’s mission and programs, and the immense effort, work and community outreach required to implement its programs and activities, goes far above and beyond the task of merely providing a place to exercise.

Reflecting Diversity: Y’s Commitment to Access and Inclusion for All

In addition to servicing and bettering its community, the Y is committed to implementing its core principles of inclusion and accessibility for all and strives to make all of its facilities, classes, and programs accessible and useful for people of all abilities and fitness levels. The Y provides a wide-range of exercise equipment in its facilities to serve people with a variety of physical fitness levels and athletic abilities.

You can learn and read more about these programs here or watch a video  here .

The Y’s strong commitment to inclusion and accessibility for all remains another prominent feature which sets the Y apart from other gyms. By focusing on inclusion and accessibility for all, the Y ensures that its membership reflects its diverse community and is comprised of individuals from all walks of life. Members of the Y include people of all ages, races, abilities, religions, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds.

This sense of diversity and inclusiveness also enhances members experience at the Y in addition to making all members feel embraced and welcomed at the Y regardless of external differences.

*photo credit to Tyler Brantley Photography 

Y members often share that they have always felt included in their “Y community.” In addition, they have expressed gratitude for and love of the Y’s diversity, and the sense of belonging they feel when coming to the Y. It is a sentiment that also contributes to the well-being of its members and allows them to create connections, social bonds and feel a sense of community, which are important factors for our emotional and mental health.

As part of its efforts to be inclusive, the Y aims to make sure an individual’s financial circumstances do not prevent or exclude a person from joining and enjoying the benefits of programs at the Y. The Y offers a number of low-cost or no-cost programs/services to respond to its community’s needs including the following programs:

*photo credit to Tyler Brantley Photography 

In addition, the Y offers scholarships and financial aid to ensure everyone has access to its programs and services and that no person or family is prohibited from participating in the Y’s programs due to financial hardship. At the Y, families have the opportunity to pay for programs and membership rates based on a financially affordable sliding scale, contingent upon their household income.

In fact, each year the Y provides more than $400,000 in community outreach programs and scholarships for its numerous programs, including its summer camp, after school care, youth sports, community health programs and Y memberships.

*photo credit to Tyler Brantley Photography

The Y’s financial accessibility and flexibility remains another prime benefit which distinguishes the Y from private gyms and clubs, whose focus is on profits as opposed to serving and providing access to all in their communities.

The immense positive impacts and benefits communities reap due to the Y’s significant contributions and long-standing commitment to inclusivity, diversity and improving local communities with their facilities and programs is worthy of recognition and acknowledgement of the Y for what the organization represents and truly is: a cause-driven community organization with a mission to support and improve communities, help community members lead better, healthier and socially responsible lives and promote early civic involvement and more to guide our youth to participate in improving their communities.

Given all the work, programs, inclusiveness and financial assistance the Y provides, we should all be in agreement, on the comment made by Sarah Gibbs, Director of Financial Development & Marketing, YMCA of Southeastern North Carolina, “We are more than just a gym. We are cause.”

Indeed, the Y is far more than a gym; it is an essential asset to many individuals, families and organizations in our area and it continues to play an important role in creating a healthier, happier, and more connected community. At the Y, your membership means more.

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*photo credit to Tyler Brantley Photography 

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