As we step off into the holiday season, it’s wonderful to reflect that we have so many reasons to be thankful here at the West Cook Y. All year long, we’ve benefited greatly by the generous spirit of our board, members, friends and neighbors in the communities we serve.
I think back to just about a year ago when we ticked off our specific goals for 2015--all focused on increasing the health and wellness of our members and all who live in the ten west suburban communities we serve.
I’m pleased to report that through everyone’s generous efforts, goodwill and patience, we’ve hit virtually every mark we projected to meet the goals we set out to achieve.
- We had a significant response to our annual SEER Study, hearing from all who participated in the random query about every aspect of the Y’s operations—our programs, facilities, staff and community services.
- The payoff of the SEER Study is that its results guided us into taking the many steps we launched in recent months to provide our members with the very best Y experience possible.
- Watch for an invitation to participate in this year’s SEER Survey from firstname.lastname@example.org between November 5 to December 10.
- Members, please share your feedback on what you believe the WCY is doing well and help us identify opportunities to create a better Y experience for everyone. Also, SEER will conduct additional surveys among registrants of individual programs. We welcome your participation.
- We added over 800 new members since the beginning of 2015, a high water mark for the West Cook Y in recent years.
- Membership fees were held study for Youth and Young Adults.
- Our Program Innovation Team worked hard to review all of our offerings, consolidated and eliminated programs that no longer appealed to members, added new ones and increased the number of free programs included with membership.
- The team identified several innovative “Y without Walls” programs and initiated new partnerships.
Among them are: the new Diabetes Prevention Program that offers a year-long group-based lifestyle intervention opportunity for adults at risk of developing type 2 diabetes; Healthy Communities Initiative in partnership with Westlake Hospital and Westlake Health Foundation, that offers a series of health fairs and screenings; the Workplace Wellness Program that brings the Y into offices, distribution centers, manufacturing facilities and not-for-profit organizations with nutrition education and fitness programs; a new partnership with Concordia University’s Center for Gerontology funded by the Kott Gerontology Foundation that will enrich our offerings for seniors across the board and add new ones; a recently expanded relationship with the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry, Rush Oak Park Hospital and Dominican University to provide surplus nourishing evening meals to residents of the West Cook Y who are Housing Forward recipients and other residents who can benefit from complimentary meals several evenings a week. This program was inspired by Dominican University’s Community Leadership program conducted in partnership with the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation which spearheads new concepts and ideas for community organizations.
And, in the coming months, we will add LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, a national program that helps adult cancer survivors reclaim their health and well-being following a cancer diagnosis.
- The Annual Scholarship Campaign netted contributions to date of $ 58,503. This total reflects contributions by many new donors and others who have contributed for the first time. These results mean that many individuals and families, who otherwise would not have the opportunity to be members of the Y, will now be served.
- We installed a new suite of state-of-the-art cardio equipment—Stairmasters, treadmills, elliptical and stationary bikes which are in heavy use day after day.
- We had a successful Healthy Kids Day that drew a record level of participation by young people and their families to enjoy games, demonstrations and entertainment all built around health, fitness and nutrition.
- We paved and stripped our North Parking lot to the applause of members and visitors; and added complimentary towel service, another welcome addition.
- This litany brings me to the final two major events of the 2015 year—the return of the YMCA’s Gala on Saturday, November 21 and the 43rd annual Christmas Tree Sale which begins the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 27 and runs until Christmas Eve, December 24. The tree sale will benefit qualifying individuals and families with YMCA scholarships
The Gala is headlined as “An Evening to Celebrate Spirit, Mind and Body,” drawn from the memorable motto of the YMCA all across the world.
The Gala will focus on securing 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.
Guests will enjoy a reception, a plated dinner with an elegant fall menu, music and a short after-dinner auction and raffle.
Jonathan Lever, Vice President of Health Strategy and Innovation for the YMCA of the USA, will be our keynote speaker. Jonathan is an Oak Park resident and West Cook Y member, who has served for more than a decade as the principal architect of the Y’s response to the nation’s lifestyle health crisis.
So, as we look forward to the holidays, let us give thanks for these and all our blessings of good health, friendship and the support of our community partners.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.
President and CEO