Thanks to the 150 or so folks who joined us Tuesday April 9th at the YMCA’s AGM at the Holiday Inn in Point Edward as our YMCA held its first annual general meeting as a merged YMCA. Along the way we had the opportunity to convene our new Board of Directors, welcoming Shawn Zettel and Gary Girardi and thank our retiring Directors Chris Thomas and Gail Bishop for their many years of service as volunteers on our Board.
We celebrated the work of our volunteers in many ways; recognizing 6 volunteers from communities across our region as our volunteers of the year, as well as recognizing over 40 staff who had been nominated by their peers for their work on behalf of the YMCA.
We also took a moment for the official kick-off of our strategic plan – Together We Can. We even pulled off a ribbon cutting ceremony – and a great photo op (see it on this page) with a fantastic background of all our attendees in sharp white YMCA ball caps!
The evening closed with a presentation from our very successful Pilot Project – YMCA Project Kenya. Staff and several adventurers presented the impact that the program had on them and the community in Africa. Our own Project Leader Jaci Bork wrapped up the presentation – but not until after we’d all seen a great video on the part of the project that occurred in Kenya as well as 2 great testimonials from two of the young leaders who participated in the program.
I was really proud of the entire Project. As much as we guided this event in partnership with our staff and volunteers from both the YMCA and Big Brothers/Big Sisters – I found it to be a very fitting and dramatic illustration of how young leaders can design and impact on issues that are important to themselves and their peer group. Project Kenya isn’t the whole answer around Youth Engagement in our plan - but it is one early step (and a very positive one) in a process that begins to center our community programs more directly on the needs of youth and young leaders.
Big Bothers/Big Sisters and the leadership provided by Mike Hurry (their Executive Director) also represented a fantastic partnership opportunity for our YMCA. It’s an example of 2 agencies finding that their goals around the promotion of youth are very similar, and when their resources are shared the outcomes far outweigh the sum of the parts put into the process.
I’d also like to thank Mike Walters and his team at the YMCA’s Learning & Career Centre Branch for their great work throughout the Project. The profile the program brought to the Centre was excellent.
Finally – if you are interested in catching a more in depth presentation from the group – join us on Monday, April 22nd at 7pm at the Imperial Theatre in Sarnia, when the Project Kenya Team and Adventurers present the program’s premier to the Sarnia community.
Great example – of a great beginning!