Some of my clearest memories are a result from an extreme amount of excitement, fear, happiness or anxiety. Since I was young, the thought of public speaking or being involved with large social spaces always stirred uncomfortable emotions. In 1996, when listening to my job description, one of the clearest memories was the statement, “You will need to greet everyone who walks through the door to the Y.” I will never forget this comment as my body temp immediately shot up to what felt like 150 degrees, of course sweating, my stomach got queasy and in my head I kept repeating loudly “everyone, has to be greeted.” I remember thinking I honestly didn’t know if I could do this job.
That statement in August of 1996 started off my journey with the YMCA — emotions of excitement that someone believed in me enough to recommend me for the position, along with fear and anxiety of what it would mean to be working at the Y. Twenty-four years later, I’m experiencing my newest position with the Y — Financial Development Director, the privilege of sharing the Y’s story.
The Y’s paved road was originally laid down over 50 years ago with a belief, vision, hard work and grit from our founding community members — some who still visit us at the Y today. We’ve definitely had some bumpy parts, that led to many strong emotions of fear, anxiety, anger, and disappointment, but thanks to our continued support from our friends, donors, and community, we’ve been able to continue the strong dedication and focus to our mission.
In 2019 the community, asked for the Y’s support. We helped our community with just over $126,000 in financial assistance for memberships, programming that may not be affordable including swimming lessons, school-age before and after school care, summer day care, competitive swim and gymnastics team expenses. Supporting our community through free preventative and life-sustaining classes — Diabetes prevention, LIVESTRONG and Parkinson’s. Swimming lessons and safety around water, gathering and training space for municipal and other non-profit community organizations, and we helped in the following capacities:
■$78,772 Scholarship Memberships
■ $25,052 Free Military Membership
■ $9,789 Free Third Grade Memberships
■ $1,413 Program Assistance
■ $11,011 Summer Y-Kids Day Camp & School Age Programming Assistance-Menominee, Marinette and Peshtigo School Districts
Seeing the amount of impact the Y has within our community, along with nationally and internationally, is incredible. I am blessed beyond measure to have found an organization whose mission and values align seamlessly; it’s like driving on a freshly paved highway in a very reliable vehicle. Is the road always smooth and perfect? No, but even the bumpiest parts always lead back to the paved road. We’re experiencing a bumpy, unpredictable part now, and to meet the responsibility of this work, we need your continued support to help maneuver through this.
We continue to maneuver the unexpected road of Healthy Out of School Time (HOST) which now; is a detour from what we did before, Monday-Friday before and after school, adapting how to teach swimming, finding ways to socialize safely with friends, sharing recipes, instructing fitness and wellness, engaging with youth, playing with infants and demonstrating skills. We continue to adapt programs so families and kids can safely learn much needed “soft skills” such as teamwork, communication, leadership, responsibility, problem solving and self-motivation. YMCA programs and events mentor these skills.
I am hoping the Y has been just as impactful for you as it has for me. I am willing able to greet everyone who is involved with the Y, and enjoy doing it. Now is the time to join me in making a larger impact on this journey. Help us get back on that paved, smooth road leading to another impactful 25-50 years within our community. Help us support leadership skills. Help us continue to mentor how we should treat each other. Help us continue to keep our doors open for anyone and everyone. Help us continue this important work.
In-person or not, there is an opportunity to help support by attending in person, or purchasing a ticket for our Party with a Purpose event at the Dome Lanes in Marinette Sept. 19 from 3 to 7 p.m. Your support at this event will help us continue supporting the needs within the community.
This is where your help is needed as it affects more than just our community. Your support of our Annual Fundraiser and Annual Campaign allows us to continue this work. We need you. We need you now more than ever before.
Some things will always stand true:
With the continued changes our nation and community face, the Y continually looks for ways to help our community based on the needs favoring those in alignment with our mission. We are not in charge of The Plan, God is. So let’s take those emotions and feelings good and bad and move forward and make the biggest, best impact we can.
Will you join us?
Will you help support us?
The Y – here yesterday, today and tomorrow!
Michell Hampton is the Financial Development Director for the Greater Marinette-Menominee.