Dear Members, Friends and Neighbors:
I am writing to you today on behalf of the Princeton Family YMCA to share our story and to assure you that we are doing all that we can to endure through this crisis.
At the YMCA, our four core values – honesty, caring, respect and responsibility – are embedded in all that we do, but today they are being tested like never before. Arguably we’ve taken these values for granted – including them in marketing materials and on banners in rote fashion – but I can tell you today with confidence that they are deeply ingrained in our Y’s culture and community and they will be the foundation by which we navigate this unimaginable challenge and successfully come out of it on the other side.
This is where we are:
HONESTY: Our Y is in a financially fragile place. We operate in a well-used building, long past its prime, with little in reserves to keep us going in a time like this. We depend almost entirely on revenues from our membership and program fees, with about 10–15 percent from charitable donations. With revenues disappearing in an instant, we had no choice but to temporarily lay off 130 hourly part-time and five full-time staff. It was a heartbreaking decision. These individuals are the life-blood of our organization and they maintain deep, meaningful and longstanding relationships with our members and the larger Princeton community. But we know that to survive, we must rely on what little savings we have to serve the community when we can open our doors again. We are also hopeful that we will be able to access emergency resources from the state and federal government as they become available for nonprofit organizations.
CARING: Our now much smaller staff will be available to support Princeton in any way we can. Two staff members are dedicated exclusively to supporting our children and teens, and their families, who are part of the Princeton Young Achievers and ACE programs. We know how especially vulnerable they are in these trying times. We will also do everything we can to make ourselves available to the town, the school district, and the larger community as a resource – our facility is here for the asking. Our Board of Directors want to help too – they are also available to support and/or lead community initiatives to connect our neighbors in need, regardless of circumstances.
RESPECT: Our Y is facing a big challenge, but nothing like what healthcare workers, physicians, emergency responders and local and state leaders are. We are in awe of their dedication and commitment to saving lives, often at great risk to their own, and to helping find a way forward. The YMCA’s earliest beginnings, more than 170+ years ago, centered on the belief that having faith in a higher power and in one another is how we endure periods of suffering, pain and loss. We at the Y still have a deep faith – especially in our community’s resilience – thanks to these remarkable people, and will continue to believe that we will prevail, by working together and putting the other first.
RESPONSIBILITY: Now is that time to follow the direction of our medical experts and local leaders, and do our part to flatten the curve. Now is the time to put social responsibility into action and model good citizenship by sheltering in place and practicing social distancing. As you spend time at home, call your loved ones frequently, check in with your neighbors by phone or using other technologies, and write to your legislators to tell them what you think.
Even though we are at physical distances, we are still deeply connected as neighbors, Y members and citizens. Now, more than ever, we need to come together and intentionally model these four core values in our actions and choices and also say why it matters.
As an organization, there is no doubt that we are in a very precarious moment. If you can help us during this time, please visit our website to learn more or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I pledge that I will do everything that I can to lead us through this time so the YMCA of Princeton, with 112 years of enduring history in this community, will be here on the other side, ready to move forward to connect us, enrich us and help in shaping a brighter future.
Kate Bech, CEO