I’ve been lucky enough to call Princeton home for more than 20 years, and for all of that time, the Princeton YMCA has been a mainstay of this vibrant community. People in the area have been coming to the Princeton Y for more than a century, always finding a place to learn, share, and grow. Now, the Y is growing in order to meet the changing needs of those it serves, and I’m proud to be supporting the effort.
In the spirit of how time really does fly, I first came to the Princeton Family Y when my son, Oliver, was four years old. He’s now a graduate student at NYU! Those first successful swats at a T-ball, and the lessons he learned from his inspiring Y basketball coaches — lessons in being a good sport and being a good team member — still serve him well today. It was a thrill to watch his skills and confidence grow, and years later to see him become a camp counselor, passing along the encouragement and enthusiasm he received from everyone at the Y.
Our children’s formative years pass all too quickly, and we soon move onto the next chapter. For me, that next chapter unexpectedly included a “heart adventure.” After a lifetime of good health, I suddenly felt extremely tired. No, it wasn’t bronchitis, as the doctor first suspected. In a matter of days, a rare disease destroyed my heart, and 48 hours later I was blessed with a heart transplant. I am so very fortunate to be healthy again, and back to the life I love.
This adventure has been an important reminder of the inextricable link between our minds, bodies and spirits. The Y’s programs address these linked needs by providing children with a safe and nurturing place, by providing adults with exercise and camaraderie, and by providing the elderly with a welcome break from loneliness and isolation. From the youngest to the oldest, the Princeton YMCA is providing critical support for the whole community.
And this adventure has been an important reminder of our underlying compatibility; that we are more alike than we are different. That we can find common purpose in common values: Caring. Honesty. Respect. Responsibility. These values drive the vision and work of the Y, and provide a rare opportunity for our entire community to agree on something: that this place of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility fulfills a critical need, and is worthy of our support.
I hope that our community will be there for the Y, as it works to upgrade the facility which welcomes more than 8,000 members, program participants and guests every year to its life-affirming programs. Membership is up 40 percent since 2013, and these much-needed facility upgrades will ensure that everyone can participate.
I am honored to have received the Y’s Centennial Award, and am especially proud that they asked me to share these thoughts with you. I invite you to learn more about the Princeton YMCA REFRESH campaign, and about how you can be a part of this exciting adventure. There is something for everyone at the Y, and something everyone can do for the Y! Please take this amazing community asset to heart, and rediscover and support our Princeton YMCA.