A Letter to our Community
Thank you. Thank you for believing in us, staying with us, and supporting the Summit Area YMCA, especially over the past two and one-half years. We write this letter today feeling optimistic – about our mission, the communities we serve, our countless volunteers, and, importantly, our dedicated employees. The Summit Area YMCA is strong and healthy – ready to continue to serve today and in the years ahead.
In response to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Summit Area YMCA staff, volunteers and donors rallied around the catchphrase “Our doors may be closed, but our mission is wide open!” As the world, our country and communities continued to evolve at a dizzying pace in 2021, our catchphrase became “We are here, when you’re ready!” After the transformative year of COVID-related disruptions, and an accompanying need to support our communities in countless new ways, the Summit Area YMCA was again able to provide some of our more traditional programming. With proper safety measures in place, our summer camps, outdoor pools, and childcare classrooms thrived, with a steady stream of members who returned (or newly joined) for top-notch fitness and aquatics. We are extremely grateful for the thousands of members who came back to our Y to experience fun, healthy activities in a safe environment.
As difficult as 2020 and parts of 2021 were, we learned one incredible lesson that will only make us stronger moving forward: we have an opportunity to be more assertive in reaching out to all those in the community who need our help. The pandemic offered new opportunities for us to support those most in need – and it is more evident than ever that our mission work is even more impactful when we when we work with the community IN the community. These outreach efforts – and community partnerships, especially to large segments of our underserved and disadvantaged residents, has allowed us to reach more people than ever. Appropriately in 2021, our members, donors, and partners helped us raise a record amount of dollars for this exact purpose, including direct aid for childcare, camp, and membership participation while allowing us to provide more than ever to our food insecurity, basic living essentials and college scholarship programs.
While this strategic shift in our mission is critical for today and the future, our three pillars that define how we serve ALL in the community remain: youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Youth development includes teaching our children academics, sports, and core values. In today’s world, this also includes a strong emphasis on social and emotional well-being. Indeed, our 7th grade free membership program has a record number of participants in 2021-22; no doubt they were most eager to regain a social and emotional balance that largely has been put on hold in the past two years. Healthy living includes giving everyone the opportunity to exercise their mind, body, and spirit. Like our kids, adults and seniors are clamoring to come back from the social isolation and shutdowns to experience the excitement of a new outdoor class or the variety of exercise options at our brand-new Berkeley Heights YMCA. Social responsibility continues to be about helping you, the community, and to give back to all. We are here to give you a voice, a platform, an opportunity to serve ALL of the community. For our teens, this meant taking bold steps in expressing the need for social justice, equity, and anti-racist communities. For our adults, this could mean visiting seniors experiencing social isolation and participating in weekly socials. For families, it means attending events in person again, like Healthy Kids Day and Diwali. Thank you to all our volunteers who give back so unselfishly to make the communities we work and play in so special!
While we still recognize that uncertainty and changes still loom, we are well-positioned to have this special opportunity to serve you. We are here for you and our community, and we thank you for your steadfast support!
President & CEO
Summit Area YMCA
Chairman, Board of Trustees
Summit Area YMCA