We Are Working Hard To Navigate Together As A YMCA Movement
One thing I’ve learned in isolation:

Many of the things we normally draw comfort from—little things, routines, even the scenes of daily life outside the window—are so different and this is very disorienting. Perspective is everything and I have leaned on family and friends. I am very grateful for the connections I can have with people through text, Skype, email and phone. I wonder if this will ever feel ‘normal’?

People I pass on the street when I walk in my neighborhood will not make eye contact and I think they are fearful. I hope folks will start to look up soon.”

Something I want to tell staff:

“I miss you. I am very grateful for the support and understanding of the situation and the difficult decisions that we have had to make. Your professionalism and positive attitude have been humbling. In HFA, the willingness of staff to alter their schedules to provide oversight and protect our assets through night shifts is greatly appreciated.

I am worried about you and your families, and I hope you are all staying healthy. I wish the impacts of this situation are not devastating. Please know that I am here: available over call, e-mail or text anytime.”

A perspective on what I have learned from the network:

“I am participating in several work-groups comprised of senior YMCA Leaders from across the country. We are trying to work together to figure out how to navigate these unprecedented situations. I wish you could see the work going on behind the scenes; scenario planning, re-starting thought, responses to customer service issues, donor outreach, ongoing member engagement, and more. There is no road map and we are working hard to navigate together as a YMCA movement.”

An update on business:

“We are hearing lots of speculation about timing, schools, camps, government initiatives, etc. We are trying to break down the facts; what is tangible now for us to act on, and what can wait. A lot of things are not in our control. We are working with the government as a provincial collective to communicate our needs and concerns.

In HFA, we have been working through a lot of customer service inquiries. While it is gratifying to hear many suggest they will continue being members, there are other scenarios too. We continue to have a lot of conversations about Financial Assistance as well as more virtual options for program participation. The online activities that so many staff contributed to are being well received. And some are even reaching out to offer donations.

We continue to work on daily content across our digital platforms in order to keep members and families engaged with YMCA activities. We are also maintaining communication channels with members, families, donors, volunteers and the media.”

Personal reflection:

“Despite the news reports we saw from around the world in December and January, this crisis seemed a bit more remote until it affected our community—and that seemed to happen so rapidly!

It feels like this is the start of a new normal… In my lifetime, 9/11 was another point in time where many things changed.

I reflect on how our YMCA has lived through more than a Century of difficult situations and events. Our Canadian YMCA, including the YMCA in Niagara, lived through 9/11, two World Wars, the 1918 Flu Epidemic, and the Great Depression. Few other organizations can say the same. Each of these events changed how we worked and the ways we needed to serve community. They altered our daily approach in many ways, but we learned and adapted and found new ways to move forward.

I am optimistic that will be the case again. We may be facing an uncertain time now, and over the next period. However, I have confidence in you, in our members, volunteers and donors, and in our entire neighborhood. I believe that our YMCA will transform, adapt and be more important to our community than ever before.”

Cathyann White
Cathyann White

My budgies get really fired up every time the sun shines through the window; not sure how my neighbours have handled the cacophony while I am at work!