Written by Johnathan Teal
I invite you to think back and reminisce with me.
Think back to a time when you took swimming lessons as a child. Do you remember the pride that came from knowing you learned a new skill?
Think back to when you were in the best health of your life. How hard did you work to achieve those results? What did it take to get to that point?
Think back to a time you felt comfort and assurance in knowing while your kids were away from you, they were still safe. What were you able to do or focus on as a result of knowing you didn’t have to worry about their safety?
If you connected to any of these memories, you may not have even realized at the time how easy they were to take for granted. The truth is, there are countless others in our own community for whom these experiences are simply out of reach. A stark divide exists between what some of us expect and are accustomed to and what far too many of us desperately desire. That gap is the difference between thriving and surviving.
Now, I invite you to think about the future.
While there are infinite unknowns surrounding the future, we can be sure of one thing: we can actively work to make that experiential gap disappear; that we can help make the difference between thriving and surviving real for kids, families and elderly individuals in need. This is what the Annual Campaign allows the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City to do.
Through generous financial support of the Campaign, the Y can provide all of those experiences and opportunities I listed earlier, and then some. Kids, families and seniors can receive scholarships that allow them to participate in our programs. After school childcare, youth sports, swimming lessons and SilverSneakers® are just a few programs that are covered by scholarships.
The contributions made to the Annual Campaign also help us to fund impactful, needs-based programs. Outreach initiatives like the Military Welcome Center at Will Rogers World Airport, the Safety Around Water course, the Youth and Government program and our Community Hope Centers fill specific needs in our community and allow us to bring the Y to people who can’t make it to us.
Even though we collect membership dues and program fees, donor support is what enables us to help fill in this substantial gap while providing a positive impact in our community. The Annual Campaign raises money for each of the locales that make up the greater Oklahoma City metro area. This means that when you donate to the Campaign, you are contributing to your neighbors.
While less than 10% of our resources are generated by charitable contributions, we put those dollars to work. They have a HUGE impact within our community. By the end of our last fiscal year, we provided nearly $2.5 million across our financial assistance and outreach programming. These dollars positively affected 20,312 individuals in 2020.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Y’s mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. Those last two words are part of the reason the Annual Campaign exists in the first place. The Campaign allows us to live out our mission and be an organization that truly strives for a better us. We want all members of our community to thrive, and Campaign contributions make it easier for the Y to close that gap.
Johnathan Teal is the Vice President of Strategic Development at YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City