Thursday, December 3, 2009


In a recent blog entry, marketing guru Seth Godin wrote, "Money is more than a transfer of value. It's a statement of belief." As a leader at the Y, I continually challenge myself and my team with the question, "Why do people choose and why should they continue to choose the YMCA?" As I look into our Y community, I believe that Godin's perspective on financial transactions offers great insight into answering that question.

What I mean is this, people may purchase a treadmill to increase their activity. It's transactional. They invest their dollars into a piece of equipment that they may or may not use. People may purchase access to 100 treadmills to increase their activity. It's transactional, impersonal. They invest their dollars into 100 pieces of equipment that they may or may not use.

When I see people becoming members of the Y, it's more than transactional. It's more than a transfer of value. Rather, it's a statement of belief. It's a belief in personal growth. It's a belief in serving others. It's a belief in relationships. It's belief in family values. It's a belief in building up children who represent the next generation of leaders. It's a belief in a group of people who collectively make their communities stronger. It's a belief in a national movement of holistic wellness. It's a belief in an international association of mission-driven professionals and volunteers. It's a belief in the historic roots of a community focused organization. It's a belief in the future of a community focused organization. It's a belief in offering healthy programs and services to all people, regardless of their ability to pay. And it's a belief that the road to wellness extends beyond a treadmill and is best traveled in community, with others who support a shared mission of building strong kids, strong families, and strong communities.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Direct Impact of United Way

This summer a Mother and her children came to the front desk of The Carlisle Family YMCA. They had a simple request … would we please allow them to take a shower? The staff member on duty realized they were in great need and gave them towels to use and access to our showers. Afterwards she struck up a conversation with the mother and learned that Mom had brought her family to Carlisle with the hope of a fresh start. Unfortunately, she was having trouble finding a place to live without a job …she needed a safe place for her children while she searched for work … and they were currently living in their car because Mom was almost out of money.

The YMCA staff member told her about our camp scholarship program funded through United Way contributions. Her current situation made her children eligible to receive scholarships to attend one of our summer camp programs. She could register the kids for camp and they could make friends and have fun while Mom looked for a job. She registered them that very day.

The staff member also referred Mom to other United Way agencies that could help them …. Safe Harbour for temporary housing for her family ….and My Brother’s Table and Project Share for nutritious meals. Mom was incredibly grateful for the help that was available to her family during their time of need because of your contributions to the United Way Campaign.

Can you imagine the positive impact United Way funding had on this family? Can you imagine the outcome of this story if there wasn’t United Way funding to support these services?

The Carlisle Family YMCA is just one of the many United Way agencies who each day, provide basic and necessary services to people in need.

Your contributions to United Way gave this story a happy ending. The kids had a great summer, Mom found a job and also an apartment for the family.

Stories like this one, which I witness every day, are why I give to the United Way Campaign. I urge you to give generously to the United Way of Carlisle and Cumberland County. I thank you on behalf of all those people whose lives you will touch through your generosity.

Developing Leaders Locally

Recently, there are international efforts which are increasing their focus on developing young leaders so that they are well equipped to combat the global challenges of our age including poverty, AIDS, and social injustice. This is evidenced by the recently held Sixth Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations who encouraged adolescents with the theme of, Vision. Passion. Action. The Carlisle Family YMCA is leading innovative programming to develop young talent locally, housing their renewed efforts at the 78-year-old Camp Thompson.

The Leadership-In-Training Program is a 2-week residential opportunity for 15-16 year old campers. Justin Rose, Camp Director, says, “Developmental goals of the program include leadership components of; time management, organization, conflict resolution, initiative, public speaking, and listening. These valuable tools are beneficial in more than the camp community; they’re tools to be used for life.” Working in small groups, teens develop leadership skills, experience group work in activities like rock climbing; and participate in a service project during their 3-4 day back-packing or canoe trip. Participants must satisfactorily complete 80% of a leadership manual filled with tasks and challenges. Throughout the week, participants are immersed in leadership dialogue, role play, and practical application scenarios. The week culminates with participants delivering a public speech about their experience. Many participants progress into the Counselor-in-Training program, equipping them to work as Camp Counselors as they are eligible. For some, the week provides basic opportunities to identify strengths and weaknesses while facilitating relationship-building and socialization. For others, the experience is life-changing.

One parent describes this transformational experience this way, “Being a teenager is a pivotal time in a person's life when he or she is trying to figure out 'a place to stand' in this world. At fourteen, my daughter Emily was no different, so I suggested she try leadership camp offered through the Carlisle YMCA.

This experience proved to be one of the turning points in her life. She was taught how to plan, implement and evaluate service projects. She was given opportunities to
learn teambuilding skills and encouraged to make a difference in her
community. Following that summer, in ninth grade, she ran for president of
her class and won. In tenth grade, she started the interact service club and
continued being president of the club until she graduated. In addition to
becoming involved with international service projects, she was able to get other clubs in her school to all work together on various community initiatives. As a junior, she attended the Rotary Leadership Camp and continued to grow her skills.

As a result of all her experiences, she secured a Community Leadership scholarship at Point Park University, where she continues to be involved in leadership activities and community service. I thank the Carlisle Family YMCA and Leadership Camp for helping to inspire my daughter to become the caring and capable person she is today and hope that other teens can take advantage of this life enhancing opportunity."

The YMCA recognizes that global change begins as the most basic level – in our homes and in our communities. The Leadership In Training program embodies this concept, investing in area youth as the building blocks of social change.