Do you remember when Coca-Cola made the ill-fated mistake of changing the original formula of the world's most ubiquitous soft drink?
Well, Coca-Cola soon listened to its customers and quickly returned to the original.
Yes, listening is far more than hearing.
Here at the West Cook YMCA, we've been following the advice my family's elders passed on to me in my youth— "if you want to learn, you first must listen!"
Active listening to the thoughts and ideas of the Y Board, members, staff, residents, neighbors and community leaders is what's been guiding us in many of the actions that have been initiated in the past several months and others that are planned for the near future.
Some of our projects have kicked up a bit of dust, so please bear with us as we continue in the spirit of our recent Summer Recess to renovate and renew other priority areas of our historic property.
Through listening to the thoughts and opinions of many, we're taking a measured approach to evaluating proposed changes and adjustments and then taking action.
Stay tuned, as there’s much more to come in future months.
A good example of how listening leads to productive change is the initiative we took with our own residents coupled with tours of several neighboring YMCAs.
Through listening to the thoughts of others, we made the determination to shift our Resident program from being strictly an SRO (single room occupancy) setting to offering optional Case Management services to the occupants of our 127 rooms so they may have opportunities to transition to healthy and productive lifestyles. This new initiative for the delivery of services to our residents through an optional case management system is being assisted by a grant from the Oak Park/River Forest Community Foundation.
A new full-time Resident Director is coming on board who will have professional case management experience.
In addition, aided by AmeriCorps funding, our partnership with the West Suburban PADS continues within the Resident program. A second Case Manager will be dedicated to actively assist residents enrolled in the PADS program transition to employment and self-sufficiency.
And, through the initiative of Illinois State Representative LaShawn Ford, who toured our vintage building last year, a substantial grant that is pending from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will permit us to remodel, refurbish and equip our residential floors to encourage healthy and comfortable living conditions. In the near future, we plan additional upgrades to the residential area.
Our residents also will have the opportunity to benefit from a new program funded by a $479,000 grant from the Westlake Health Foundation. They will be able to participate in health fairs in nearby Proviso Township where health assessment and health education programs will be offered by Westlake Hospital. Participants can then continue their personal fitness regimen through the West Cook Y's many active fitness and exercise programs.
The Westlake Foundation grant is another excellent example of how the West Cook YMCA is making a conscious initiative to embrace the "Y without walls" concept.
Through this new partnership between the West Cook YMCA, Westlake Hospital and the Westlake Health Foundation, Proviso Township residents who live in the communities of Bellwood, Forest Park, Maywood, Melrose Park and Stone Park will have the opportunity of:
- health screenings for early detection of chronic and preventable diseases which may be potentially life-threatening;
- health education to help understand and manage prevalent and preventable diseases; and
- fitness sessions to encourage all to live more active and healthy lifestyles.
The Westlake Health Foundation grant provides support for a full-time bilingual community outreach coordinator and other staff to conduct the health education and screening programs, the cost of screenings, including laboratory analysis, reading medical images, physician reimbursement, equipment and supplies to conduct the program and to track results.
We look forward to celebrating the coming Holiday season marked by friendship, fellowship and healthy food.
This season, we’re partnering with Food for Friends, a local non-profit organization whose volunteers have offered to serve a full Thanksgiving Day dinner here at the Y for up to 150 persons — residents as well as Y members — who may not have family or friends with whom to share the holiday.
The West Cook YMCA's 42nd annual Christmas Tree Sale begins on November 28th and will continue through December 23rd. We're moving the trees to the alleyway adjacent to the north side of the Y building so as not to inconvenience members' use of the parking lot, and our Member Engagement Desk staff will handle tree purchase payment. The Tree Sale will benefit the Y's Annual Support Campaign, which provides scholarships for individuals and families who cannot afford membership.
In other developments, in addition to the new Resident Director, a new experienced Membership Engagement Director, Kyle Hartje, joins us this month. He is a veteran of more than 18 years service in similar capacities at other YMCAs.
We at the West Cook YMCA have so much for which to be thankful. The energy, enthusiasm and good suggestions of our members/resident members, staff and volunteers continue to be a major blessing.
I wish you and your family all the best for Happy and Healthy Holidays.
President & CEO