Annual Meeting 2018
Michele Rulnick, President and CEO of the Northern Middlesex YMCA shared the following Annual Report at the May 28, 2019 Annual Meeting for the 2018 Business Year
Welcome to the 132nd Annual Meeting of the Northern Middlesex YMCA
Our theme this evening is Reaching Our Full Potential. I am going to start
with a quote by Jim Rohn,
"The big challenge is to become all that you have the possibility to
becoming. You cannot believe what it does to the human spirit to
maximize your human potential and stretch yourself to the limit."
Full potential is open-ended growth from birth until death. My experiences
at the Y have reinforced the incredible capacity of human beings to
achieve and amaze! It begins with watching infants full of joy moving
to music, babbling back in conversation and learning to swim in
parent/child classes. Those infants become toddlers who greet the member service staff as they arrive to the Y practicing their rapidly developing verbal skills.
In preschool these young children begin to acquire the building blocks for academic success and of critical importance begin to play with other children and develop empathy. The Y’s School Readiness Program plays a critical role in building foundational learning tools by promoting play, social skill development, exploratory curriculum and physical activity. Children often enter the Ingersoll Center for Children and the Y’s Macdonough Preschool with a host of limiting factors, but graduate to Kindergarten prepared and capable of reaching their full potential like their more affluent peers. This transformation is not easy. It takes a very dedicated, talented group of Early Childhood Professionals to achieve these positive outcomes and the Y is very fortunate to have a highly skilled team lead by Amber Creighton-Pandey.
The Y is a leading Youth Development Organization and the scope and breath of programs and services we offer is impressive. I want to stress however, that having a long list of programs is not what’s important! When it comes to Youth Development quality over quantity is the key to measuring success. At the Y, every youth program is filtered through a screen of intentionality. Our intention is – to support holistic growth, to encourage caring, respect honesty, and responsibility and ultimately to help young people grow into productive adults.
When you visit Camp Ingersoll or attend a family event you see these values in action. From well-planned curriculum to team building, intentional social skill development and recognition for demonstrated Y values. While young people are exploring nature, playing, developing specific skills and knowledge they are also experiencing community, friendship, and positive adult role models. I often refer to a well-run Camp as the secret sauce of youth development. Camp Ingersoll has been cooking up this secret sauce for 57 Years. In 2018 under the leadership of Ben Silliman and Taylor Savage over 1200 young people ranging in age from 4-16 were nourished at YMCA Camp Ingersoll, building a stronger foundation, one youth development building block at a time.
In 2018 the Friends of Ingersoll Fund was formed to serve the long term capital needs of the Ingersoll Outdoor Center. Donations made to this reserved fund will be invested into facility improvements beginning with the re-facing of the climbing tower and later to renovation of the lower camp structures. Information about the Friends of Ingersoll Fund can be found on your table.
Kids Korner Before and After School Programs provide much needed childcare services to working families of school age children in 12 elementary schools. Visit a KK program and you will see children from diverse backgrounds participating in enrichment, STEAM, and physical activity all while developing social competency. You will hear adults leading literacy activities thanks to a Kidzlit Grant from Liberty Bank Foundation and you will not be able to differentiate a child whose family receives financial support through our open doors program funded by the Middlesex United Way the Peach Pit Foundation and our generous Y donors.
In 2018 KK received a grant from the YUSA to expand work with CDLI. CDLI stands for Character Development Learning Institute. The mission is to advance effective youth character development practice among adult providers so that more youth cultivate the character skills and traits necessary to reach their full potential. The KK team led by Melanie Carfora, Ceara Ladue, Justin Tokarz has embraced this mission and exemplified integrating adult learning with youth engagement, earning the prestigious designation as a CDLI HUB Site. As Y youth professionals grow and develop so do the young people in their care! Our Y CDLI team (Melanie Carfora, Ceara Ladue, and Chaelyn Lombardo) are now teaching other Y’s how to excel in this work and help children build empathy, emotional management, responsibility, personal development and meaningful relationships.
In the world of aquatics the Y continues to be the leader in teaching water safety and inspiring the next great Olympic swimmers. The new YUSA swim instruction curriculum focuses on teaching children water safety first and then progressing to stroke development. Nick Dionne and Carla Mackay fully committed to the new curriculum and provided a seamless transition. Do you know that in 2018, 2077 people drowned in the US? Drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1-5 yrs of age and the 2nd leading cause of death for children 1-14. 80% of victims are male and African American & Hispanics are 3 times more likely to drown. Teaching children and adults to swim saves lives and for some it becomes a lifelong sport and passion. Many young people transition from lessons to joining the Y’s Barracuda swim team. Swim coaches Heather Chandor and Nick Dione not only prepare youth to be competitive swimmers, but they teach personal goal setting, reinforce that strong work ethic and commitment pays off and celebrate the attributes of a great teammate – all building blocks of leadership and life success.
On Friday nights the Y is full of youth energy as close to 80, 6th-9th graders attend the Y’s teen nights. The consistent turn out has made it abundantly clear that young people want a safe place to socialize and have some fun with friends. Thanks to the generosity of Jay and Pam Keiser, the Drummand Foundation and a City of Middletown CDBG grant the Y has been able to run this program year round, provide close to 50 teens with free Y memberships, and run basketball clinics and leagues. Teens need positive role models and safe alternatives to time spent on the street or in isolation. They need to feel welcomed and valued. The Y is often that place for local teens. We want to expand our reach beyond a recreation program and play a more significant role in helping our local teens reach their full potential. Lori Lodge, Ben Silliman and I continue to identify potential long term funding and new partnerships that can help us build capacity and expand our impact. This is our goal for the future.
The Y helps people reach their wellness potential. Each day when I walk through the facility and talk to members I am reminded that the Y community is an oasis for many. The Y is a place to socialize, set personal goals, and maintain a routine that helps one live a long and healthy life. Do you know that in 2018 the Y served over 1500 members over the age of 65? As an organization that welcomes all the Y provides the support adults need to address many of life’s challenges. This is evident in the work that Jim Goodin is doing to help men who live at the Y apply for jobs, find permanent housing, receive medical care, and address food insecurities.
In 2018 the Y held its inaugural Livestrong class led by instructors Sue Cox and Craig Chivers. This was years in the making and a very gratifying moment. Our first class served 8 adults at various stages of their cancer diagnosis all striving to make a full recovery and regain their strength. Over the course of the 12 weeks of programming, participants not only increased their physical wellbeing but they developed friendships and a support network that will last a life time. In June we will welcome our third Livestrong cohort. The initial outcomes and positive feedback is greater than we imagined and made possible because of the generosity of The Community Foundation of Middlesex County, Eversource Foundation and our donors. We are abundantly grateful for the support!
The Y is here for the very young and the very old, for the wealthy and the poor and for all people regardless of religion, nationality, race, sexuality and gender. At the Y we celebrate the diversity of the full community and strive to address community needs.
The Y strengthens individuals, families and community. It is what we do. The we represents a dedicated group of talented Y employees (that includes countless talented people not mentioned in this report), a committed and engaged Board of Directors, volunteers and generous donors. This is the secret sauce for non-profit success – it takes an army of people who give generously of time, talent and treasure to serve the collective good. Thank you all for being an ingredient in our secret sauce, a building block that helps people reach their full potential!
As we look to the future the Y will continue to focus on our core values of Youth Development, Social Responsibility and Healthy Living. We will continue to serve all in our community regardless of economic status and we will work to assure that the Y is positioned to serve the next generation of children and families. This is challenging work and challenging times for all non-profits. I have confidence that the Y will continue to thrive because we have you – the army of support – our secret ingredient for long term success.
Thank you for sharing your strength of character and commitment to the greater good with the Y so that we can build the foundation for a strong, diverse and healthy community for generations to come!