Monday, April 25, 2011

Engaging Members Through Generosity

This April 20 blog post on Donor by Design spotlights our April 5 Walk a Mile in Our Shoes events throughout the Triangle. Bruce Bergland is president of the professional services firm that works for not-for-profit organizations.

Board and member engagement are two topics that I am asked about almost every day. We all agree that there is great philanthropic potential in our membership. After all, these are the people who regularly access our facilities, our programs and should be most closely connected to our mission.

As member engagement increases, so does our fundraising. Consider asking your members to live beyond themselves and partner with your Y to help another agency doing great work. What? Help another not-for-profit? I can hear your outraged gasps from here. Shouldn’t we be lifting up our own work?

Some of you may know the TOMS Shoes story. This amazing organization gives new shoes to kids and families in under-resourced countries.  Their premise is simple. For every pair of shoes purchased, they give a pair away.

On April 5, TOMS hosted their annual One Day Without Shoes, where people around the world go barefoot to lift up their case. That very day I had the privilege to visit Kraft Family YMCA (Apex) and the Downtown YMCA – both branches of the YMCA of the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham, NC).

Cary Family YMCA TOMS Walk

As an association, this Y decided to lift up the important work of TOMS by creating donation stations for shoes, highlighting various facts underscoring the health and social issues of kids and families not having shoes, and basically had lots of fun creatively lifting up the TOMS case and activating their members. 

The evening of April 5, the Y encouraged their members and families to “walk a mile in our shoes” where families got active and walked (barefoot) together.

Walking in Cary's Bond Park

I was so proud of this Y!  They were engaging their members through acts of generosity - doing something beyond themselves.

YMCA Guides & Princesses: I Remember

More than 13,000 fathers and their children participate in YMCA Guides & Princesses. Small groups, known as tribes, make up the Arapahoe Nation. Brendan Bailey recalls the time he spent in the program with his children.

When fathers, sons and daughters think back to their time together in YMCA Guides & Princesses, the first words you hear are “I remember.” These words are followed by memory after memory of the great times they spent together in this wonderful program.

I was fortunate enough to be in the YMCA Indian Guides in Charlotte in the early 1970s with my father. The memories I formed with my father are still with me today. It was very important to me to share some of the same experiences with my kids. 

I have two children in the program. Aaron “Tough Bull” is now 15 years old. Aaron will mark this year’s Spring Outing by driving his old dad to camp. My daughter Ashlyn “Fuzzy Kitty” is 11. This is her 5th year in the program.  While our tribes may have disbanded, we continue to spend time together by volunteering at Fall and Spring Outings, Orientation meetings and more. 

The time I  spent in the program with my two children has definitely brought us all closer. Joining the YMCA Guides & Princesses will strengthen your relationship with your child and create memories that will last forever. You’ll also have a great time together.   

From tribe meetings and camping, to Polar Bear swims and Kite Day; from Fall Outing and Winter Inning to the highlight of each year, Spring Outing at Camp Sea Gull and Camp Seafarer, each year is full of fun activities that will bring you closer to your child.


Brendan Bailey “Red Cloud”
2007 Arapahoe Nation Nation Chief

To learn more about Y Guides & Princesses, visit the Arapahoe Nation website.

You Can’t Spell Family Without the Y

Each day at our YMCA, thousands of children learn new skills, make new friends and follow the lead of their counselors.
Terry Lewis, a senior at North Carolina State University, is an after school counselor at the Alexander Family YMCA. As Terry shares, sometimes Y counselors learn just as much as the kids!

Is this Wacky Wednesday?

The term family doesn’t have to be limited to just the people you’re related to. A family can be any group of people that you feel a close bond with. Thanks to the Y, I have a very large family.
I started out working summer camp at the Alexander Y in the summer of 2010. I came into training only knowing one person.
Ask anyone. They'll tell you I was a very reserved guy at first. Not long after training ended, I was thrown into the chaos and excitement that is summer camp. That's when I realized how blessed I was. I was no longer that reserved guy at training, but a counselor who loved every minute of his job.
The relationships I formed with my staff and campers are what opened me up. They allowed me to have a memorable summer.
I still work for the Y as an after school counselor at Stough Elementary. The people I work with aren’t just my co-workers, but my family. Outside of the Y, we go out to eat, take trips, and just hang out together.
I know when I leave the Y, I’ll always have a family to rely on.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

This is Y

Why the Y? Seems like simple question, doesn't it? But when you hear how the YMCA of the Triangle helps our community, you'll realize there isn't just one answer.

Through this blog you'll hear from real people: parents, kids, staff members and volunteers. You'll hear from folks who wanted to lose weight and others who wanted to gain friends. All of them can tell you why the Y.