Dear Friends of the YMCA:
YMCA Canada’s national annual general meeting was this week and I, along with colleagues from across the country, have been enlightened by the knowledge and experience of so many individuals from within the Y as well as from other organizations.
One talk in particular will stay with me. It was given by (Retired) Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire. As you will recall, General Dallaire was the Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda prior to and during the 1994 genocide. He spoke up about the PTSD he suffered as a direct result of this mission and has become a strong advocate for destigmatizing the impacts of PTSD. He spoke with us about the need to give mental health care the same recognition and prominence as physical health care.
This struck home with me as we at your YMCA are seeing an increased need for help and the beginnings of openness in discussions around how people are struggling, recognizing that it’s okay to not be okay. We are also looking within our association, working to provide staff with what they need as they grapple with both the personal and work implications of the times we’re living through. The necessity for mental health care has always been there, but the pandemic has certainly brought this to the surface for more of us.
That’s why this year’s Strong Communities fundraising campaign is focused on interpersonal and societal connections. Over many years, research has shown the correlation between physical activity and mental health. That is a relationship that the Y is known to serve. What might be less well known are the opportunities the Y presents for people to make friends and to feel part of a larger purpose. During successive closures, we heard from our members about how they were missing the friends they had made at the Y, how much they missed our staff and how important these relationships are.
When you give to the Strong Communities campaign, whether during the year or to specific fundraising events like Send a Kid to Camp, the Gord Brown Memorial Golf Tournament, in which we are partnering with the United Way of Leeds and Grenville, or the George E. Smith Memorial Fire Truck Pull, you are helping seniors become less isolated, helping teens to have a safe space to go after school, helping kids of all ages learn leadership skills and how to form positive relationships, in addition to helping people right here at home access the Y’s healthy programs.
I hope you will make a donation to Strong Communities today. Every dollar really does count and removed financial barriers to those who would not otherwise be able to afford the beneficial connections and programs found at your YMCA.
Staying with this theme of connections and serving our community, I will be participating in a Housing for All strategy session lead by the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing. The Y has a long history in offering shelter and we are keen to see where we may respond to this need in our region.
Wishing you a happy weekend,
CEO, YMCA of Eastern Ontario