Community involvement central to YMCA?s next 10 years
Like any 10 year old, the Rhinelander YMCA has seen a lot of growth and change during its first decade of existence.
“We are still very young,” Wellness Director Chris Cook said. “The YMCA as an organization is 150 years old so we are pretty new.”
Cook said the first 10 years have been spent figuring out what the YMCA needs to be for the Rhinelander community but he said the next 10 years, he hopes, will be a melding of the community and the organization.
“We are growing solid roots into the community,” Cook said. “We are strengthening our impact in the community and growing our collaborations.”
Cook said all that is leading to the ultimate goal of the YMCA for the next 10 years.
“I want to sit here in 10 years and say the YMCA is synonymous with the Rhinelander community,” he said. “When you think of Rhinelander, you think of the YMCA.”
Interim CEO Laurie Schlitt said means breaking free of the perception that the YMCA is just a “gym and swim.”
“We are no longer just a facility,” Schlitt said. “There are so many different areas that we can focus on.”
And some of those areas include help outside of health and fitness.
“We have 10 years of expertise at getting volunteers at events,” Cook said. “Volunteerism is big for us. If someone has an event, we can share our knowledge and expertise.”
The areas where the YMCA can assist the community and organizations are vast some that people may not have even thought of. That is why Schlitt said the best thing for people who are in need to do is contact the YMCA to find out how they can help.
“It is as simple as an email or a phone call,” Schlitt said. “We can’t knock on every door and find out if someone needs help or our advise on whatever they have going on. But if they contact us, we can see what we can do.”
Sometimes that might be getting someone in touch in with the right organization, setting up a collaboration between the YMCA and the group seeking help or it could mean tapping the YMCA’s pool of volunteers. Schlitt said the opportunities are endless.
“Once we know the issue, we can figure out what service to provide,” she said. “We can find that avenue, that specific service to assist that group or organization.”
As the YMCA works with more groups and those collaborations grow, Schlitt said she hopes others will see the impact and contact the Y.
“Hopefully people will feel our passion for this,” she said. “This really is one person at a time. Let them know that we are here to support the community.”