We all know that January is the month of the year in which the Y’s and health clubs’ membership surges, thanks to New Year’s resolutions, too much holiday “cheer,” and a relentless barrage of advertising (most of it, in my view, grimace-inducing) with enticing offers to lure folks into year-long contracts. At the Y, we make no cheesy promises and don’t base our membership experience on a contract filled with fine print. We simply invite people to consider becoming part of our community, for a better you and for a better us. We offer top-notch health and wellness programming and facilities, but what underlies it all is a deep commitment to building relationships, strengthening families and community, and focusing on the more meaningful goal of well-being. Our members, both new and longstanding, quickly come to understand the Y’s unique and essential value, which is more gratifying and rewarding than what’s offered by a high-priced “club” or gimmicky cut-rate purple and yellow gym with lots of machines.
This past month, we welcomed 10,675 new members to the Y community, bringing us to a region-wide membership of 137,484 good people who have banded together to make themselves, their families and their communities better and more connected. The impact of that can be measured only superficially through numbers; the true measure of our impact is what that xxx,xxx strong community translates to in terms of breaking down barriers, improving health, meeting surprising new friends, and improving local neighborhoods.
I am so proud of the many Y associates who work so hard and diligently to make this happen. It requires tremendous focus, teamwork and dedication to a cause that is way bigger than any sales spreadsheet can reflect.
Three stories from this past month wonderfully underscore what is really at work underneath all of the impressive numbers and growth.
“I ran into two members in the parking lot as I was loading my kids in my mom’s car. The member stopped me and said she joined last year because of the complimentary membership for signing up for the Turkey Trot. She didn’t run in the Turkey Trot but wanted her “free” month. She said she loves it here.
She and her partner have been coming to the Y for a year and she said it’s the best thing for them. They both have health problems but said the Y has helped them. They take our water aerobics classes and do a few light weights on the fitness floor. I asked her if she was going to run or walk the Turkey Trot next year and she wasn’t sure. I encouraged her to keep coming and to let us know if there was anything we could do to help her with making that a 2018 goal. She said she loves the community here, being able to meet new friends in her classes and having a sense of being “looked for” when coming into the water. Everyone in her class is encouraging of each other and she loves that.” From the Greater Annapolis Y in Arnold
“I had a great conversation with a member and learned that his reason for choosing the Y started 20 years ago when he completed his Army duty. He always heard about the Y and he decided to try it. He met some great members who became friends, so when he moved back to Baltimore, he came to the Weinberg Y and really enjoys that it makes him feel like home.”From the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Y in Waverly
In the story below, Madison Rowell from our Engagement Center was doing new member welcome contacts when she received the following e-mail back from a new member from the Walter and Betty Ward Y in Abingdon:
“Hi Madison. We have enjoyed it, especially my children, but unfortunately I will have to cancel my membership. My family has found ourselves homeless due to very unfortunate circumstances. My landlord allowed his home to go into foreclosure and did a short sale. He gave us one hour notice to get out. We are in a double predicament because my business was run out of my home. I’m sorry for unloading all of this. I really hope to join again soon, especially since it’s one more thing my kids are losing.”
Madison immediately turned to Suzanne Green, VP, Operations at the Ward Y. Not only was Suzanne able to help reinstate her membership through our Open Doors program, but she was able to personally connect her to a resource in the community to help in her personal situation.
The response back to Suzanne from Brandi says it all:
“I stopped in to thank you personally but you were on a tour and I had to leave to get my daughter to school. I CANNOT express the amount of gratitude I have for you, Madison and Dwight. I am so thankful I spilled everything to Madison that day. I am so thankful she forwarded my email to you and I will be eternally grateful you put me in contact with Dwight (Dwight Griffith, a Y member and founder of The Griffith Never Give Up Foundation, which helps people overcome life’s unexpected challenges). I was incredibly appreciative, as are my kids, for the gift of the membership, but putting me in touch with Dwight has saved my family and I can never thank you enough. You are an angel to my family, thank you from all of us.”
These are but three of so many incredible stories and windows into what the Y’s membership is really about. If ever you get down or tired, as we all do from time to time, read these stories and pat yourself on the back for being part of a cause-driven organization that truly is For a Better Us.
All the best,
John K. Hoey
President & CEO
The Y in Central Maryland