What a year 2020 has been. Despite the pandemic, industry leaders continued to lead and provide support for their communities the best they could. Below, take a stroll down memory lane and recap our top 2020 cover story takeaways.
“Where there’s a Y, there’s a way.”
No statement better encapsulates the presence of the YMCA of Greater New York in a city with 8.5 million people. To serve such a wide variety of individuals and cultures, the YMCA needed to be ubiquitous in The Big Apple.
“That tagline really sums up the way we think about helping every New Yorker reach their full potential, and the role the Y can play in helping people be successful,” said Sharon Greenberger, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York.
Read the full cover story on The YMCA of Greater New York.
Every city has its own best kept secret. Of course, what qualifies a particular place as a secret is entirely subjective, but the common theme among all best kept secrets is the surprising number of people who don’t know what kind of experience they’re missing.
In the city of Dallas, it’s the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center of Dallas (Dallas JCC), a full-service fitness center open to the whole community that delivers an engaging experience for members of all ages.
“We often have people come into our building — people who have been in the community for years, but have not seen the JCC before — and they can’t believe what we have in this facility,” shared Artie Allen, the CEO of the Dallas JCC. “They walk around here in awe — they’re starstruck at what we have to offer. So we often say it’s the best kept secret because how could they not know we were here?”
Read the full cover story on The Aaron Family Jewish Community Center of Dallas.
Spirit, mind and body.
These three words make up the motto commonly used by YMCAs across the country. It encapsulates the purpose of every program that’s planned and service offered. Each new offering should benefit an individual’s spirit, mind and body, and is thus filtered through that lens.
In recent years, as a greater understanding of the symbiotic nature of physical, mental and emotional wellness continues to evolve in the industry, the balance has started to shift. Greater care is being put into holistic wellness practices across the industry, and the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, with locations throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, is leading the charge.
“Historically, most people have known the Y as a destination for working out or doing fitness, and that is one discipline for taking care of the whole human experience — but it’s just one,” said Sally St. John, the senior director of well-being and integrative care at the Twin Cities Y.
Read the full cover story on The YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities.
“What were all these people doing before this place was built?”
This question, posed in 2013 by John Curtis, the previous mayor of Provo, Utah, represents how important the Provo Recreation Center (Provo Rec Center) is to the surrounding community. Since its grand opening in 2013, the Provo Rec Center has been the hub of health and wellness activities in the local community.
“Roughly 7,000 of our 125,000 residents come here every single day — and that includes Group X classes and outdoor leisure aquatics,” said Bryce Merrill, the recreation center manager. “Plus, it serves as a gathering place. It’s a significant community hotspot.”
The 162,000-square-foot facility was an instant hit when it opened, and with a full suite of recreation services, it has remained a popular destination for fitness enthusiasts and families alike.
Read the full cover story on The Provo Recreation Center.
Since they were implemented into the organization in 1900, the YMCA of Greater Kansas City has relied heavily on traditional fitness offerings. After realizing several years ago the future of community health now lies in services that promote holistic wellness, the Kansas City Y is now leading the charge in achieving a sustainable medical services model for nonprofit organizations.
“We are continuing a culture of innovation, the ability to think outside our traditional ways of doing things,” said John Mikos, the president and CEO of the Kansas City Y. “It also gives us opportunities to reflect on the organization’s resilience, and then pivot based on what our communities want.”
Read the full cover story on The YMCA of Greater Kansas City.
“It is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars.”
This quote by Richard Evans speaks volumes for the current state of the community rec industry. Throughout 2020, YMCAs, JCCs and community rec centers have been faced with a multitude of challenges, from laying off thousands of employees to enduring months of shutdowns — all while trying to help navigate tensions that have arisen due to social injustice and political unrest in America. While 2020 has had its dark moments, it has also proved rec centers are bright lights, and they show up when needed.
From delivering food to at-risk members, serving as childcare centers for children of essential employees and giving members an outlet to relieve COVID-19 stress through virtual programs, community rec centers didn’t fold when things got hard — they rose to the occasion.
Community recreation facilities exist to serve others, and while the challenges and impacts of the pandemic are far from over, they’ve helped reveal the need for what this industry does. In this story, seven industry leaders share their COVID-19 experiences, and how the industry can come out on top and continue to meet the needs of those they serve.
Read the special edition, COVID-19 cover story.