We’ve all heard the saying: “if you want something done, ask a busy person.” Well, I think that quote was created for our indefatigable team of Y associates and volunteers across every touch point, service and program we offer. Fasten your seat belts for this one! It’s a Monday Mission Grand Slam!
This morning bright and early, a longstanding summer tradition began anew as a few thousand happy, anxious, eager and adorable kids streamed into one of 18 Y camps across Central Maryland, with parent or guardian and gear in tow ready for a summer of fun, new friends, exciting experiences and as yet unmet challenges! Like summer itself, the start of camp is filled with possibility and irrepressible smiles even amidst the inevitable first day jitters and an occasional tear!
Like those Olympic athletes who trick us into thinking how easy it all looks, I am here to tell you that the planning, intelligence and care that goes into the organization of excellent camping at this level and this scale is nothing short of magnificent! Hats off and good wishes for another successful season of Y Camp led by the oh so capable Michelle Becote-Jackson, Lana Smith and the great team behind them who help to assure that all systems are go! This also includes our marketing, IT and finance folks who help bring the camp opportunity to thousands of families long before the starting bell even rings!
Part of what makes the Y Camp experience, and all Y experiences, so important is the incredible diversity of families and kids we serve from all walks of life and backgrounds, including those at the bottom of the economic scale whose safe and happy Y Camp experiences are made possible by our generous donors who have so far funded 982 weeks of camp and still counting! Hats off to Lindsay Crone, who leads the Send a Kid to Camp charge and to our philanthropy, marketing and center teams for working so hard to make it all come to life!
Last Thursday, we were excited to cut the ribbon on the new Y in Pasadena. About 150 members, volunteers, associates and community leaders were in attendance to help celebrate the opening of our 13th Y in Central Maryland and with it the opportunity to extend our cause-driven mission even further into Anne Arundel County. The day was complete with many proclamations, and well wishes from our friends and volunteers. There were many speakers, including Association Board Chair Alan Cason and Anne Arundel Community Leadership Board Chair David Fries, who had this to say about how he views the Y and our role in the community:
“While I know the charitable aspects of the Y as a key asset for the county, as an engineer, I also look at functional aspects that make the Y different. The Y is a large entity, with best practices, successful models, and proven leadership. Yet a Y maintains the flexibility to change, adapt and stay focused on community. And on closer inspection, this shouldn’t come as a surprise; Ys serve the community, they mirror the community, they employ the community, for many longstanding Ys, they define the community. And this is a very special thing.”
Thank you to David, Alan and all our speakers and guests for helping to celebrate the addition of this new Y to our community. Thanks are also due to the teams of Y associates across every program area who came together to transform this beautiful 80,000 square foot center into a true Y that can live up to the standard so well expressed by David. That’s no easy task and it has taken a virtual army of Y associates, including those in finance, IT, operations, marketing, HR and many others to make this happen. Thank you one and all!
Further demonstrating the depth behind David’s words, we were also pleased to be able to announce on Thursday that we have just received a $15 million, five year grant from the Federal Office of Head Start to operate and expand Early Head Start and Head Start programming in Anne Arundel County. Effective July 1st, the Y will become the sole provider of Head Start programming in Anne Arundel County, serving more than 350 children and their families, expanding upon our already significant reach in the County.
With this addition, we will now serve 1,694 Head Start children at 37 sites across Anne Arundel and Baltimore Counties, as well as Baltimore City. With this new grant, we will launch a home-based Early Head Start program for 40 infants and toddlers and pregnant women, increase full-day Head Start programming for 196 three and four year-olds, and provide full-day Head Start/Pre-K programming for 120 children in partnership with Anne Arundel County Public Schools.
A huge round of applause for Chris Ader-Soto and her team for their diligence and the extremely impressive outcomes they have achieved over the years, success that clearly led to this opportunity to further extend our charitable mission into Anne Arundel County.
But wait! There’s more! I am also pleased to share with you that we have just been awarded four additional Before and After School Enrichment sites in Anne Arundel County! This makes the total number of school-based Y sites to 13 in the county (with another five Y camp sites)! Congratulations to Michelle, Derryck Fletcher and our entire Before and After School Enrichment team!
With all these additions, we will have an important impact on the well-being of over 30,000 people in Anne Arundel County alone! A mere four years ago, that number was about 2,000 or so. While it’s not about numbers per se, scale and a rich diversity of programming does provide the opportunity to have a holistic impact on the lives of not only individuals, but also families and communities.
Take a bow, Y team and then, let’s get back to it! There are many miles to go before we sleep…
All the best,
John K. Hoey
President & CEO
The Y in Central Maryland