The YMCA — its mission, focus and values

Published 7:50 am Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Editor’s Note: This article was written by Emory Smith, a YMCA staff member
When people think of the Y, some think of a fitness facility where you come to work out and get fit. Some think of a place where children come for sports and to learn to swim. Some think of a place for reliable childcare. Others might think of a community center where one might come to “hang out” with friends, shoot some hoops, or attend classes. While the Y is all these things, it is much more. Our mission, our focus and our core values make us much greater than the sum of our individual parts.
The mission of the Y is to “put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.” From the first gathering of young men in London, England, in 1844, until today, Christian principles have always been at the heart of our identity. And, though our areas of focus have expanded and our programs have changed as we became a worldwide movement and as we adapted to changing social environments, we have always been mission driven.
At the Y, we want to bring about meaningful change in individuals, families and communities. We measure our success by how well we are focused in three areas — youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. That’s because a strong community can only be achieved when we invest in our kids, our health and our neighbors.
When they are at the Y, children and teens learn values and positive behaviors. We teach them our core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. We help them explore their unique talents and interests, enabling them realize to their potential. This makes for confident kids today and contributing and engaged adults tomorrow.
Our focus on healthy living means more than simply emphasizing physical activity. It is also about encouraging people to maintain a balanced spirit, mind and body. We offer many programs and activities to help achieve this balance.
The focus on social responsibility is at the core of the Y’s existence as a nonprofit. It is only through the support of volunteers and donors that we are able to support and give back to the communities we engage. Members volunteering as coaches make our sports programs for children and youth possible. And, donations from individuals, businesses and foundations help keep our memberships affordable and help with memberships for disadvantaged families.
The Y is for everyone. As we continue our 25th Anniversary Membership Drive, we hope that, if you are not a member of the YMCA, you will become one. But remember, the Y is not just a place to join. It is a place where you can belong to something much greater.
Mike Haynes is the interim CEO of the Bainbridge-Decatur County YMCA. He can be reached at (229) 243-0508.