The YMCA is an incredible organization! The services YMCA’s provide in their local communities truly do make a difference in people’s lives. As YMCA staff members and volunteers, we should be very proud to be a part of the positive, influential and life-changing operation offered every day at every YMCA!

However, as exciting as that is, there are other organizations in every community that can provide a wealth of resources outside of our expertise. These organizations focus on needs that may not be addressed in the normal program of our YMCAs. If the YMCA could find ways to partner with such organizations, just imagine the potential increased impact we could have together in our communities!!

Nowhere is this more apparent than when it come to partnering with organizations that share our faith background, locally, regionally or nationally. These organizations can help us fulfill our own mission statement to provide “programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all”. As excellent as the most YMCA’s are at addressing the issue of health through exercise classes, swim lessons, diabetes education, and fitness training, many often have a virtual dearth of opportunities for those who may need to strengthen their minds or feed their God given spirits.

In recent months the US Mission Network has been exploring a number of national partner ministries that can provide tools and resources to the YMCA to meet some of these other very real needs in our communities, both inside and outside our buildings. These needs include divorce recovery, parenting skills, addiction & recovery, marriage enrichment, personal finances, skills training, tutoring, mentoring, and much more.

The reality is, the YMCA is not equipped to handle all those things within the scope of our own resources. But there are community resources locally, regionally and nationally that specifically focus on them. Many of these organizations have training classes, materials, and skilled teachers who can lead such efforts in partnership with a local Y or a regional association. If the Y can provide them space and help them advertise their offerings, these groups can add an invaluable resource to the Y’s overall program offering.

The potential in such partnerships is staggering. The YMCA is almost universally viewed as a “safe place” in their community. People who are struggling through difficult life issues, such as raising their kids, walking through divorce, or dealing with their inner demons of addictions, need just such a “safe place” to address such things in their heart and lives. By partnering with a local faith-based program or non-profit, we can help provide some very real answers to such very real life issues. As a Christian-based organization, as strongly outlined in the constitution of the YMCA, we can openly seek such partnerships. Doing so will help us truly address the needs of a person’s spirit, as well as their mind and body!

As we move forward look for more information in future newsletters, on our website, and on our Facebook page about some of our faith partners – ALPHA, Restore Ministries/Journey to Freedom, Willowcreek, Grief Share, Financial Peace University, Transformational Leadership, and others. It is our hope to provide YMCAs across the country with a menu of options with such organizations that can help us all better meet the real life needs in their community.