Grateful for A Year of Purpose at the Y

Published On: December 22, 2023Categories: Blog

A Message From Kathy Kuras,
President & CEO, Greater Austin YMCA

We hope your holidays are filled with warmth, laughter, and joy. Each of you is an integral part of our vibrant and diverse community because the YMCA is FOR ALL. This year, as so many forces have strained the fabric of our community and our nation, we are particularly grateful for the power of the Y to bring people TOGETHER. 

That spirit of connection fills us with excitement for the year ahead. But before we look to the future, let’s take stock of all that our volunteers, partners, donors, staff and members – all of YOU – have accomplished over the past year, and celebrate the many positive changes we’ve powered across Greater Austin. 

We started the year by notching our 15th anniversary in Dripping Springs, where our Y – “The ‘Drip” – has become a hub of this fast-growing community. We launched our new brand with a new, more inclusive name that reflects our regional reach Greater Austin YMCA and our promise to help POWER YOUR PURPOSE at the Y and through the Y. By empowering and educating youth, ensuring access and opportunity for all and energizing a sustainable future, we will elevate quality of life across Central Texas. 

We began designing a new Y in the Four Points area of West Austin, which will create a blueprint for the next-gen Y by piloting new programs and facility features. We gathered community input to shape the vision for a new wellness district at the TownLake Y, and we announced our intentions to the public to explore redevelopment at all our Y centers. 

We expanded the scope of our Texas Youth and Government program (top middle) to reach more rural and low-income youth, and reaffirmed longstanding support from the Sumners Foundation, which has provided over $5 million in funding over the years. 

Through the Extend-A-Care YMCA, we began a multi-year effort to redesign the business model for the entire child care sector statewide (top right) convening conversations with legislators, regulators, business leaders and community partners like school districts and Austin Community College. As the largest provider of child care locally, in Texas and nationally, the Y has an obligation to lead development of a sustainable model that can meet family needs and fuel economic growth. 

We welcomed special guests from the Lviv, Ukraine YMCA for Voices of Ukraine, an evening of music, culture and conversation. It can be easy to forget that the Y is a global movement. This event was not only a reminder of the spiritual benefits of arts and culture in the face of existential threats. It was also a testament to the power of people coming together across boundaries to lift each other up in times of need. We’re hosting a Refugee Arts & Crafts Bazaar at the TownLake Y on Saturday, December 30, from 9am to 1pm, featuring the creations of Ukrainian and Afghan refugees. We invite you to join us. 

The Southwest Family YMCA continued leading our Association’s efforts in expanding opportunity for people with disabilities. Camp In Motion completed its eighth year providing a rich summer camp experience to kids and young adults. Our Y offers popular adaptive programs like swimming as well as inclusive formats that enable kids to participate in Y programs like dance, gymnastics and sports.

We marked our 10th anniversary at the North Austin Y with the launch of our Everline Counseling mental health support program and a grant for a Best Buy Teen Tech Center that will open doors of creativity and career opportunity for kids in the neighborhood. We’re providing in- person counseling at our North Austin and East Communities YMCAs along with telehealth appointments available across the area.

For Welcoming Week in September, the Hays Communities YMCA hosted a kids’ cooking class making traditional Arabic dishes. Welcoming Week brings together neighbors of all backgrounds to create welcoming, inclusive spaces. 

We celebrated progress at Camp Moody, notching more than 3500 kids and families in summer camp and family campouts since opening in 2020. The Hays CISD Aquatics Center at camp surpassed the 1000 child mark in Project SAFE swim lessons. And we unveiled plans for the next phase of development, which will include a large multipurpose activity center that will support more campers, conferences and retreats. 

We launched Explorer Point: Groves & Caves at the Northwest Family YMCA, creating a “mini-children’s museum” for drop-in child care and co-play hours where kids and parents can explore and learn together. 

And just when we thought our plate was full, we received a calls from leaders in suburban cities asking the Y to consider partnering on new community facilities. 

We are so incredibly fortunate to live in a vibrant region like Greater Austin. We’re equally fortunate to be a part of an organization like the Y with a rich history of innovation. Whatever you can imagine a Y doing in YOUR community, we can achieve it at the Y and through the Y. 

I have every confidence that this next year is going to be transformative in our Y’s history. As a volunteer-led, nonprofit community enterprise, we rely on ALL OF US to think like community entrepreneurs. But instead of building profits, we will build healthy people, healthy places and a healthy planet. 

If you want to help power this work across our community, we invite you to make a year-end contribution by December 31, with a reminder that all donations are tax-deductible. 

Let’s be bold, creative, and collaborative. 

Thank You 

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