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The Y: A cause worth investing in
By Arnie Tomac
Recently, the Y commissioned a consumer survey – the Y Community Snapshot – to measure how Americans view quality of life in their communities nationwide. The survey was based on several factors, such as community member involvement and the quality of a community’s services, ranging from education to public safety.
Interestingly, the survey revealed a 30 percent gap between what people say is most important in creating a strong community and how satisfied they are with their own communities in those areas. For example, Americans report that a safe environment for children and assistance for struggling community members (job training, food pantry, etc.) were important for building a strong community; however, they rate their own community low in these same areas.
When asked for the solution to closing this gap, survey respondents held themselves accountable. Survey respondents feel it’s important – now more than ever – to contribute their time and money to community causes (an 8 percent and 10.5 percent increase from 2012.) They expect more from their community – and each other.
I agree, and that’s why I believe the Y is a cause worth investing in. Serving the Bellevue, Redmond and Kirkland communities, the Bellevue Family YMCA is launching its annual Giving Campaign to help ensure that all of our neighbors have the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. This is an ideal time for our community to learn more about the work of the Y and its ability to help us reach our goals.
Throughout the Eastside, countless people know of the Y, but there is so much more to the Y than one might think. From athletics to academic achievement, summer camp to senior activities and volunteerism to violence prevention. The Y doesn’t just strengthen bodies it strengthens the community. Every day the Bellevue Family Y works across the Eastside to support the surrounding people and neighborhoods by addressing critical community issues such as academic achievement, youth obesity and senior isolation.
For example, the Y is committed to closing the achievement gap. Over the summer months when children do not have the opportunity to engage in enriching activities, many fall behind in key scholastic areas like reading and math. Summer learning loss is avoidable and the Bellevue Y is addressing this pressing issue.
When Viviana first arrived at the Reading Rangers program, she was comfortable reading in her native Spanish but struggled to read and write in English. After five-weeks of site reading, word play and literacy activities, not only was Viviana self-selecting books to read to her classmates, but also she could communicate key elements of the story in English including, plot, character development and themes.
The Y gives students like Viviana the opportunity to build skills and confidence according to their learning needs, preparing them to enter the next grade level. The Y wants to make sure programs like this continue to cultivate the next generation of our community and make sure Eastside students achieve long-term academic success.
The Y is just as involved with programs that support the other spectrum of our community – our senior citizens. From knitting clubs to fitness classes, the Bellevue Y is ensuring our seniors stay active and involved. Many fondly remember their friend, Stephan, who at 102 was still a vital part of the Y family. Jack Cass, a long-time Y member, happily admits that not only did the Y save his life, it gave him a whole new perspective. “They’re friends, they’re personal, they’re part of my family,” Jack notes about the people he’s met at the Y. Through a continuum of programs and offerings, the Y is a place to belong at any stage of life.
Through this work and so much more, the Bellevue Y staff, volunteers and financial supporters demonstrate daily that the Y is more than a place, it’s a cause. The Y is grateful to all of its generous donors, but it needs help from more community members and partners to continue and expand its vital work. Please join me in giving of your time, talent and resources to support the Y during its annual campaign and year-round.
Arnie Tomac is board chair of the Bellevue Family YMCA Annual Campaign.
About the Y Community Snapshot
The Y Community Snapshot was conducted online by Toluna (www.toluna-group.com) between Feb. 20-25, 2013 and is an opinion survey of 1,500 online interviews with U.S. adults aged 18+ conforming to U.S. Census parameters for age, gender, and region of residence. The survey has a total of 30 questions and a +/- 2.5 - 2.75 percent margin of error at 95 percent confidence for demographic, behavioral, attitudinal and other subgroups within the survey. For more information, or to see additional survey results, please visit ymca.net.