Better to Give Than to Receive


January, 2019

Community Impact

Here at the Clark County Family YMCA we are always asking the question, “If we went away, if the Y closed its doors, would the community notice? Would the community care?” 

In our Board of Manager’s meeting, I talked about our Giving Tree, where we partner with the Salvation Army to provide gifts to kids in need during the Christmas season. The Salvation Army gives us 200 tags to put on our tree, and members, guests and staff can take a tag and purchase a gift.

But we ran out of tags and the gifts just kept coming in. We estimate that we gave somewhere between 300–400 gifts this year.

I asked the question, “If we went away, if the Y closed its doors, would the community notice? Would the community care?”

I walked back into my office when the phone rang. It was one of our partners who had a giving tree in La Center, Washington. One of the kids had asked for a YMCA membership for Christmas. This child is 9 years old and lives with his grandmother—they don’t have much. I was on the phone with our partner when our Executive Director Eddie walked by. I summoned him in, and put our partner on speaker as she told Eddie about the request.

Eddie said, “Absolutely. We will give them a 3-month membership certificate.” Then he said, “They need to have something to open on Christmas so we will print out the certificate and put it in a card so they can open it on Christmas.”

As Eddie talked, I was getting concerned that he would end up giving them a lifetime membership before it was done! Our partner was touched by the generosity and we hung up after many thank yous. Eddie got up and as he walked out of the office he stopped at the door and said, “We need to get them a bunch of Y swag to go along with the certificate.”

A little while later, Angela, our Aquatics Director, came into my office. She said that another organization was looking for free swim lessons for a 16-year-old boy whose mom had died of cancer and who had asked for swim lessons for Christmas. The organization had called other places to find this gift and had been turned down repeatedly. Angela told them yes, we would give him free swim lessons.

My heart is overflowing.

If the YMCA went away, I still don’t know if the entire community would notice, if the community would care. I do know one thing though. We matter to a lot of kids, families, seniors … I do know that. In this time of year, I know the Clark County Family YMCA is working on the ethos, “It is better to give than to receive.”

My heart is full.

Roger Button