West Cook YMCA

October 2015 CEO Message

Published 10.01.15


As we begin to enjoy the beautiful bracing fall weather, members and friends of the West Cook YMCA will come together on Saturday, November 21, for an evening to celebrate spirit, mind and body.

Yes, this year’s Annual Gala at Oak Park Country Club is focused on those same three memorable words emblazoned high on the walls of our two gyms that for years formed the nucleus of the Y’s symbol, one of the world’s most widely recognized logos.

The Gala has just one goal: to make it possible that everyone in our community — people of all ages from the ten west suburbs we serve with more than 100 weekly programs and classes focused on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility — are able to take advantage of every opportunity to be healthy in spirit, mind and body.

The Gala will raise funds for scholarships that ensure that everyone who wants to take advantage of the Y’s programs can do so.

At the West Cook Y, we believe everyone should have access to the tools necessary to live a healthy life in spirit, mind and body. Because of this belief, we never turn anyone away because of their inability to pay.

Specifically, the Gala will secure funds for our Annual Support Campaign so we can provide scholarships for youth, families and seniors who are unable to pay the full cost of membership.

The Y scholarships mean that youth can learn to swim, teens are mentored on how to be responsible leaders, seniors can enjoy good health and overcome physical challenges and parents are encouraged to make physical activity a part of the very fiber of their family life.

To inspire us on that mission, we’ve invited Jonathan Lever, Vice President of Health Strategy and Innovation for the YMCA of the USA, to be our keynote speaker.

An Oak Park resident and West Cook Y member, Jonathan has served for more than a decade as the chief architect of the Y’s response to the nation’s lifestyle health crisis.

Through Jonathan’s leadership, the Y now has national public and private partnerships with premier health organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, American Medical Association, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, LIVESTRONG, UnitedHealth Group, and numerous philanthropic and corporate supporters.

Jonathan’s experience with the Y and his previous work in philanthropy and as an attorney with special expertise in the non-profit sector, positions him well to inspire and inform us of new trends, new information and new ideas to help us continue our mission.

The plated dinner @ $150 per person will also feature a brief and entertaining auction of several donated items.

Another highlight of the evening will be the introduction of the Scott Gaalaas YMCA Partnership Award winner, named in memory of one of my predecessors. Stay tuned for details of that announcement.

I’m thrilled to report that we’ve just learned that in the coming months, the West Cook Y will participate in LIVESTRONG at the YMCA. This is a national program that helps adult cancer survivors reclaim their health and well-being following a cancer diagnosis. The West Cook Y will offer a welcoming community in which survivors can improve their strength and physical fitness, diminish the severity of therapy side effects, develop supportive relationships, and improve their quality of life.

The 12-week program will consist of two 90-minute sessions per week of small group physical activities led by specially trained YMCA Instructors.

Through the use of individual personal assessments, instructors create a physical activity plan tailored to each LIVESTRONG at the YMCA participant that includes cardiovascular conditioning, strength training, balance, and flexibility exercises. The program includes a functional and quality of life assessment evaluation before and after participation. LIVESTRONG is free to all participants and also will include a free six-month family membership to the West Cook YMCA.

We’ve also recently learned that in the coming months we’ll have the benefit of a Kott Gerontology Scholar on site who will assist in our healthy aging programs for one year.

The program is supported by a grant from the Russell and Josephine Kott Memorial Charitable Trust that funds training for qualified interns to develop skills to create and deliver services to senior citizens.

A sure-fire bedrock principle of marketing and merchandising is to know the territory and understand the product or service, inside and out.

That’s why we’re so appreciative of our members who participated in the anonymous SEER satisfaction survey conducted earlier this year, and it provided some wonderful feedback. It also helped us better understand members’ intrests and concerns.

Y members told us what they believe we’re doing well and areas where we could do better.

For example, members praised the staff and administration for friendliness and making all who enter the Y feel most welcome. Members also believe that the Y has enough staff to serve the needs of all.

SEER survey participants told us that we’re helping them achieve their personal goals.

So, you can believe that we’ll be sure to continue to do all of that.

But members also told us that we need to address the cleanliness of the entire West Cook Y facility, pay more attention to maintaining our equipment and be willing to adjust class and program schedules to better fit the needs of members.

We hope that members will agree that the recent substantial investments of a thorough deep cleaning of our entire building, that’s now fully brightened and burnished, plus a new suite of state-of-the art cardio equipment and new equipment for staff use when evaluating members’ fitness, that significant progress has been made towards meeting the primary concerns and needs of members.  

We plan to continue to seek your feedback and will be distributing a new Member Experience Survey later this year. Please be on the lookout for it. If you feel that we’re hitting the mark, please let us know. If you have suggestions for areas that need improvement, we welcome your feedback as it’s very important to us.

Our entire administration team has been very active in recent months encouraging members to renew and to refer friends, relatives, neighbors and co-workers. We’re also using a full portfolio of both traditional and digital media to introduce the Y to the entire west suburban community.

As a result of all of this renewed energy and activity, plus the new investments in facilities and equipment, I’m very pleased to report that 263 new members have joined the West Cook Y family in September.

All good news for the West Cook Y family. Happy fall to all.

Phillip Jimenez

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