Collaboration is an essential component to community recreation. Existing in the nonprofit sector, YMCAs, JCCs and community rec centers rely heavily upon local partnerships to provide many of their programs and services.
“There is no one agency alone that can address some of the most critical social issues in our communities,” said Jarrett Royster, the executive vice president of operations at the YMCA of Greater Boston. “Therefore, there is a great need for broad-scale collaboration in the community.”
Through sponsorships from local organizations, the Boston Y is able to deliver a wide array of services that extend beyond just fitness and, in line with its mission, give financial aid to members who need it. In fact, Royster considers these partnerships necessary to his organization’s mission.
“Children and families are in need of comprehensives services,” said Royster. “Our mission calls for us to raise philanthropic dollars that allow us to reduce rates of programs, provide scholarships and provide access to those who need us the most.”
“We have a large ‘Safety Around Water’ program where we partner with Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) to use the pool at a local high school and provide free swim lessons to children who would otherwise not have that opportunity,” said Becky Gamm, the senior vice president of program development and operations at the Louisville Y.
The Louisville Y’s partnership with JCPS has yielded several other beneficial programs, particularly in the areas of academic success and social learning for children.
“Part of our niche is in the area of social and emotional learning,” said Gamm. “As we met with the JCPS leaders, they said they wanted our help with social and emotional learning for the kids — how to resolve conflict, get along with others, make friends and wait for a turn, for example.”
So if you have a vision for a new program or service that might not seem feasible at the moment, it’s worth exploring your community partnership options. Chances are you will be able to forge a good relationship with a local organization whose values align with your own, and begin work on a new project to benefit the community.
According to Royster, seeking out local collaboration is essential for community recreation to continue changing lives. “The not-for-profit sector should always be figuring out better ways to collaborate,” he said. “Not only do we need to figure out how to collaborate, I believe the sector can benefit from merging for different programs.”