Saturday, June 1, 2013

Prove me right about the YMCA!

I am no longer a YMCA member.

That is a strange phrase for me. I have been a YMCA volunteer, member, staff person for over 35 years. But with recent changes and management decisions that has changed. But I do not want to go down that road in this post.

Instead, I am hoping you can help me.

When the YMCA of the USA started it's rebranding process, it developed the strategy, worked with CEOs, consultants, key staff and whatever.  Then they worked with Marketing Depts and Leadership at local Y's to roll it out. They were trying to change the YMCA to be seen as a cause driven nonprofit, not a place to go.  But Marketing won't change that (in my opinion).

Ever since I started in the Y as a kid learning to swim and then becoming a volunteer as a Teen, I always knew the real mission impact was done by the program and membership staff at the local Y. It is the staff on the front lines working with the members that make the real difference. And these staff tend to be overworked and treated as just another employee by big Metro offices. These staff have the real power to change the YMCA image and impact. Not a new logo.

My theory has always been that the real power of the YMCA is the everyday staff. It is the lifeguard that takes time to high five a kid for getting in the water even though they were afraid. It is the Day Camp staff person that is purposeful about talking about Christian values, instead of barking orders about rules. It is Fitness Staff that encourage the Health Seeker by being realistic about body image, slow change and gradual progress. It is the Front Desk staff willing to chat with members and knowing the names of their kids. These are the YMCA Heros. These staff matter.

So what does that have to do with me not being a YMCA member? Well I still love the YMCA. I still cherish the friends I have made with other YMCA staff. But in the end, my YMCA career took turns that I didn't choose and now I am in a different place.

Over the years, I have collected mounds of YMCA logo stuff. Sweatshirts, T-Shirts, mugs, luggage tags, USB drives, etc. I want to share my collection with people who also love the YMCA and want to help me prove my theory right about the YMCA. The staff make the Y what it is.

My wife and her friend have started their own organization, Leap of Faith Arts Ministries ( This organization embodies everything that the YMCA used to be for me, plus a strong emphasis on Worship which plays a larger role in my life today. Everything is focused on the mission and the kids in the program.  They are consistently asking themselves, what can we do to help these children learn to use their gifts to praise God and to know they are perfect just the way they are.

Kids today are under so much pressure to achieve, to be better than the rest, to rise above. What ever happened to having a heart eager to serve?

Image is everything. You have to have the right clothes, cars, house, cell phone, etc. Girls are encouraged to dress like they are 25 at age 5. Body Image is so distorted. Where is our sense of values?

Leap of Faith Arts Ministries is having a real impact on changing this. It isn't about the Arts that they learn, even though they are getting high quality, professional instruction. They are changing lives.

This is not some new start up though, Leap of Faith is new as a nonprofit, but has been around for years. They just recently went out on their own though. And this first year in their new building is proving financially challenging. They have a solid business plan for operations and funding through program and membership fees. However, they do want to go down the path of relying solely on charging more or running more programs to generate revenue to expand their impact.  They want to begin with a foundation of support from donors, so they can grow the program and not put a heavy burden of cost on the members.

This is their first attempt at real fundraising and we need your help to kick start it and show the board and parents that this is worth fighting for and raising money can be done.

So here is my ask. Can you show support for my wife's new org that is living out what I think is the best quality of YMCA staff today?

Here is the fun part. The first thirteen people that make a donation over $50 can get a Thank You in the form of random YMCA logo items. You will get one of the 13 piles in the picture below. Each contains some clothes and a random item.

Here are the rules:
1. Make a donation of $50 or over at
2. If you would like the YMCA thank you, leave your name in a comment below in this blog post. I will get your address from the donation, so just your name, indicate you would like a "YMCA thank you" and any other thoughts in a comment. First 13 comments from people that live in the United States will get an pile of YMCA stuff shipped to them.

NOTE! so if you want to make sure you are one of the first 13, just count the comments below.

Here is another picture of all of the items.

Or if you would just like to show your support, you can make a donation or share this post with others. If you want to leave comments, without donating, that is welcome also. We also ask that you keep Leap of Faith in your prayers as they look to ensure their future growth and impact through their first fundraising efforts.

Thanks, Steve


Steve Heye said...

Woot! We have 2 donations so far! That is a great start, but I still have 13 sets of YMCA logo stuff to give away. So spread the word.

Steve Heye said...

We are up to 5 donations and down to 11 sets of YMCA logo stuff! Thanks for everyone's support so far!

Steve Heye said...

I have received a number of compliments and messages of support for this post offline. And I really appreciate the support! We are up to 6 donations! But I do still have 11 sets of YMCA stuff left. Whatever is left by June 15 will be moved over to a Mission Fish auction to support Leap of Faith. Thanks everyone!