Our 135th Annual Meeting was a time of gratitude.
This year volunteers, Y members, and staff gathered at the Marriott Event Center in Nashua on November 17. As is traditional, we honored volunteers of the year and inducted a YMCA family into our Hall of Fame as part of our celebration.
Honored as 2022 Policy Volunteer of the Year was Board of Director member JJ Poirier for his exemplary leadership in the Annual Campaign, Chairman’s Circle Committee, and Financial Development Committee. Judy Lecklider was chosen as the Program Volunteer of the year for her volunteer work at the Nashua Branch’s Welcome Center, totaling over 500 hours of service since 2017. On behalf of the Hall Family, Elliot Hall accepted the 2022 Hall of Fame recognition. This award is bestowed on an individual or family for five generations of YMCA membership from this Nashua family.
After a turbulent two-plus years, we have a lot to be thankful for here at the YMCA of Greater Nashua. Some highlights of CEO Mike LaChance’s annual overview included many bright spots and areas of wonderful growth for our organization:
• A focus this last year was growing membership. Prior to the pandemic, we were on a steady growth trajectory. We lost 52% of our membership when we were in the thick of the pandemic. This past year, we not only needed to recruit, retain and engage, we had a lot of work to do to recapture members who stepped away. Today we are at approximately 80% of our pre-pandemic membership numbers. People need a sense of community and the Y is one of the best places to get that. We are engaging people in new ways and are excited about new technology and engagement options to be released in the upcoming months. Many of you had a direct role in making this happen.
• The second area of focus is Access. When we engage more donors and raise more dollars, we have the ability to serve more children and families in need. We did just that, by raising just over $587K in our annual campaign this past year. This allows families and individuals to have access to all of our programs and services and a Y membership. In our child care programs alone one-third of the children in our are being supported.
• The third area is collaboration and partnerships. We currently partner more than 150 organizations to expand programs and services to our community. We are seen as a convener and collaborator in the community and this has served us well and has allowed us to expand our reach and respond to our community needs. A highlight of the past year was our work In the communities of Amherst and Mont Vernon where we launched new before and after-school programs for children serving more than 100 children.
• Our new well-being center has begun to take shape. This concept started a year ago when we convened a group of 10 healthcare leaders from Saint Joseph Hospital, Southern NH Health, Greater Nashua Mental Health, Lamprey Health, The Youth Council and others to hear from them the challenges they face. Some of the challenges they shared include: overcoming the stigma attached to mental health the struggle for individuals to seek out support and educating individuals on how to get support and getting access to individuals needing support .We wanted to serve more people needing to improve their mental health. We know the connection between physical and mental health and we know that most everyone feels comfortable walking in the doors of the Y. Why not offer these services at the Y? It is important not to confuse mental health with mental illness. Everyone has mental health, just like everyone has physical health. Our mental health is how we’re feeling inside or how we are emotionally. It is like our internal weather and our mental health is at least as important as our physical health. We know that there is a strong connection between physical and mental health and we want to be a little more intentional and supportive at our Y. We plan to do a big grand opening announcement in January and will have some events to commemorate the new Well Being Center at the Nashua Y.
• Our fourth organizational priority was financial sustainability. The financial impact we have seen is more than $3+ million in lost revenue in last 2.5 years. Between federal support, the launch of new services and programs, the focus to recapture members, significantly reducing expenses and financial and contributions, we have moved from the Survive Phase to the Revive Phase to launch us into the next phase – The Thrive Phase. I have seen our staff step up and be creative with new program offerings, promoting these offerings to our members and potential members, and control expenses. All of this has played an important role in our recovery.
Other highlights of the past year have included:
• We served over 23,000 members and served more than 25,000 individuals through programs, classes, and school programs.
• Our summer camps had the most successful summer to date. Nearly 2,000 youth made summer memories this summer! This includes Camp Sargent, and programs at the Merrimack YMCA, Nashua YMCA and Westwood Park YMCA.
• With great excitement, our Ninja Course was installed at the Westwood Park Y in January and new programming to introduce this obstacle course was shared with our current members and new members to the Y.
• We taught more than 3,500 children and adults to swim and 9 of our Storm swim team members were recognized as New England Top 10 swimmers. Forty lifeguards were trained or recertified in our YMCA pools.
• Nearly 300 dancers gained confidence during dance programs and more than 25 dancers achieved competition awards on the national level.
Our response to community needs is not a new concept. We have been doing this for 135 years. Please accept my sincere thanks for your commitment to our community through your Y work. I hope our staff, volunteers and YMCA members take time to reflect on the past year and are thankful for all that our YMCA has achieved.
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