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Chaplain's Corner: YMCA impact and the Spirit of Giving
Dear YMCA community,
It's our Annual Campaign fundraiser, now through March 14. I hope you'll choose to give to the Y. Every little bit helps!
When I was a Y member, I thought I knew the Y. Now that I work here (and get to dance with Y campers like the teens with me in the photo below), I would really like to share parts of it that you may not see.
Recently I heard three people share about how they benefit from the Y. I was blown away. They were:
- A stay-at-home mom whose husband died suddenly in his 30s, leaving her grieving and financially on the brink. She had to sell her house in Houston and move to Hays County, with her two young kids. This mom knew no one in her new town. A YMCA yoga class at the Hays Y helped her find much-needed community and healing. (Click to read Cheyenne's story.)
- A formerly homeless man who now helps run our Showers for the Homeless at our Northwest Family branch. Once a month, a church partner buses over homeless people to help them get the shower and coffee that can feel like a breath of life and connection to dignity. (Click here to hear Roland's story.)
- An empty-nester in Manor who ended up adopting a baby after her coworker, the child's grandmother, died of AIDS. Diantha felt called to keep the baby girl, and she couldn't have afforded to do that without YMCA Afterschool Care. She described how every service agency she thought could help gave her a "hard no" and the YMCA have her a "hard yes." Now her adopted daughter is thriving.
What about my Y story? For years before I worked here, I was an enthusiastic member of the YMCA -- a regular at the TownLake, East Communities, and Southwest branches. I even made a point to go to the Hays branch after a playdate in Buda. The Y got me through the first years of parenting, big time, and brought the joy of dance fully into my life.
In 2017, I chose to root my work here, as an interfaith chaplain, because I have seen firsthand the way Y programs transform lives, including my own. My commitment to the Y is only stronger now that I see the work that goes on behind the scenes.
The world needs diverse, inclusive, intergenerational communities now more than ever, REAL PHYSICAL PLACES where we can connect across differences, learn from each other, and take care of our minds, bodies and spirits TOGETHER.
YOUR GIFT helps make it possible for thousands of people to join the Y -- or play youth sports or go to Y camp while their parents work -- who otherwise could not afford it. They are single parents, seniors on fixed income, people who are between jobs, those who are experiencing homelessness, new immigrants, longtime Austinites who can scarcely afford to live here anymore, people who are going through a health crisis, and more.
Every single day, people come into branch offices and we find a way to include them. YOU ARE THE WAY. Your donation is the way. I cannot tell you what a difference your gift makes.
I have made a donation of my own. I hope you'll join me in truly making our YMCA the "Y For All."
With much love and gratitude,
Rev. Erin Walter
TownLake YMCA Community Engagement Director
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