Reflecting on a Year with Gratitude and Appreciation
Last updated: December 22, 2021, at 9:17 a.m. PT
Originally published: December 22, 2021, at 8:47 a.m. PT
As 2021 ends, we reflect on what a year of change, new challenges, and opportunity the Y and our community have come through together. We began the year with bold goals and a renewed commitment to advancing equity and justice for all, and serving all communities, in everything we do and everywhere we do it. We continued to serve meals, house youth experiencing homelessness, offer rental assistance, give children a safe place to learn and play while first responders and frontline workers and other caretakers returned to work, and so much more.
The Y made progress on our commitment to equity and justice and becoming an anti-racist organization. In planning our first new camp in over 100 years, the Y engaged with local tribes to create inclusive learning opportunities for youth. The Y hosted community conversations to discuss diverse and pressing needs, such as such as creating access for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) youth to swim, addressing Anti-Asian hate crimes, and education and advocacy for ending violence against Indigenous women and girls. We also saw the long-awaited return of the Y’s signature A.K. Guy Award event, where we honor and celebrate volunteerism and changemakers who uplift and better our collective pursuit of a more just, equitable and inclusive community for all.
Our teams helped parents enroll youth in education, childcare, camps and hosted pop-up vaccine events. Despite the challenging change, we found a way to seize opportunity, be productive, and serve our community in 2021.
Here are some highlights from this truly unforgettable year:
Strategy and Vision
- The YGS Board of Directors, in collaboration with the Senior Leadership Team, expanded Vision 2025 to advance Equity and Justice for all with a focus on BIPOC and other underserved youth and their families.
- The Board and staff also took steps to further diversify our leadership, staff, and program offerings to reflect the communities we serve across our region.
Investing in Our Staff
- We recognized the work of our staff with a merit increase, or bonus, in April 2021 and increased the annual accrual rate for paid time off, ensuring that full time and part time staff have equitable access to PTO to take care of their health and well-being.
- Covered increased cost of health benefits with no additional cost to employees.
- Announced a hybrid work policy to provide greater flexibility on work location.
- Invested in LinkedIn Learning to enrich staff development and growth.
- Established a wellness day each month for all Y Social Impact Center employees.
Social Responsibility/Equity & Justice/Volunteerism
- Welcomed Equity and Justice Officer, David L. Humphrey Jr., Ph.D. to develop and execute the Y’s operating plan to advance equity and justice for all and train our staff and community to becomes future equity leaders.
- At the long-awaited return of the Y’s signature A.K. Guy Award event, we advocated for foster youth, highlighted the need for investment in youth education, and destigmatized the mental health crisis that is growing in our communities during the pandemic
- Completed the first phase of our internal equity assessment established DEI training for all Y staff.
- Y Branch Operations and Programming
- Expanded our days and hours of branch operations, increased programming, and revamped our website to make information easier to find.
- In response to member demand, we doubled down on offerings for Virtual Y, our online streaming platform for on-demand workouts, family activities, cooking classes and more. It’s free to all Y members and available 24/7.
- A pilot launch in partnership with Gabrielle’s Wings for Family Safety Around Water programs taught swim and water safety to 65 youth at no cost to them. This program expands in 2022.
- In partnership with Seattle Kraken, 80 BIPOC youth learned to play hockey in the gym and on the ice with special visits from former NHL player J.T. Brown and Kraken staff.
- Hired dedicated Y staff to work with community partners to bringing lifesaving Covid-19 vaccines to thousands of people. Since youth have become eligible, we have hosted pop-up clinics and served 500 youth and counting.
- Behavioral Health needs skyrocketed in 2021, and in response our team grew capacity by more than 50 percent and increased our percentage of therapists who identify as BIPOC or LGBTQ to 45 percent to meet need of youth and adults.
- We stepped up to address hunger and food insecurity with hundreds of thousands of meals and produce boxes.
Child Care/Camping and Outdoor Leaders
- We are nearing completion on three new Early Education facilities which will be opening soon in Woodinville, West Seattle and Redmond, serving hundreds of youth and families.
- Summer 2021 saw the return of residential camp for individual campers, and we closed on the first 500 acres at Mineral Lake to start our first new camp in 100 years. To build an inclusive curriculum that seeks to avoid erasure of history, the Y is working with the Nisqually Indian Tribe to craft camp activities and programs.
- Successfully advocated at the state legislature to save fish and save camp at Camp Colman.
- BOLD and GOLD, a YGS program that has expanded to Ys across the US, received a $2.5 million endowment in 2021. With these funds we’ll invest in staff, sustainability, and expansion of the program to more Ys in 2022.
- Since 1999, the Y has partnered with public high schools in King County to anchor the Y Scholars program, which provides extra support and resources for students to learn and thrive. Since inception, 100 percent of participating students have successfully graduated high school and in 2021 over 20% of seniors had already obtained an AA degree at the time of high school graduation.
- Nearly 350 foster families received free yearly family memberships to the Y for 2022, an invaluable way to bring the family, community and child enrichment programs of the Y to youth in need.
These are only some of the highlights of our work and the investments that were possible in 2021 through your support. Thank you for walking alongside us on this journey. We cannot do it without you.
To our Y family who makes possible all these impacts and community empowering work you truly are among the invaluable gifts we are deeply grateful for this season.
Thank you for walking with the Y in all the ways you do. As a member of our team, as a donor and volunteer, you are what makes the Y special, and you are a valued member of the Y Movement. Thank you for your continued trust and partnership. We appreciate the opportunity to work with you and remain committed to serving with you to lift those furthest from opportunity. We’re excited for what’s to come next year and wish you and your family a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season.