Letters to the Editor

The YMCA: A cause worth investing in | Letter

Recently, the YMCA 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 YMCA is a cause worth investing in. Serving the Redmond, Bellevue 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 YMCA and its ability to help us reach our goals.

Throughout the Eastside, countless people know of the YMCA, but there is so much more to the YMCA than one might think. From athletics to academic achievement, summer camp to senior activities and volunteerism to violence prevention. The YMCA doesn’t just strengthen bodies it strengthens the community. Every day the Bellevue Family YMCA 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 YMCA 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 YMCA 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, she could communicate key elements of the story in English including, plot, character development and themes.

The YMCA 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 YMCA 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 YMCA 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 YMCA is ensuring our seniors stay active and involved. Many fondly remember their friend, Stephan, who at 102 was still a vital part of the YMCA family. Jack Cass, a longtime YMCA member, happily admits that not only did the YMCA 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 YMCA. Through a continuum of programs and offerings, the YMCA is a place to belong at any stage of life.

Through this work and so much more, the Bellevue YMCA staff, volunteers and financial supporters demonstrate daily that the YMCA is more than a place, it’s a cause. The YMCA 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 YMCA during its Annual Giving Campaign and year-round.

Arnie Tomac

Board chair, Bellevue Family YMCA Annual Campaign


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