Dorchester Family YMCA celebrates 30th anniversary

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This year our very own Dorchester County Family YMCA celebrates its 30th Anniversary. I wonder how many lives have been touched in this community by our YMCA?

So many people know us as a swim and gym … a place to get fit or lose weight. But do they know the powerful impact that we have in people’s lives every day? Do they know that we help children conquer fear when they learn how to swim? Do they know that we provide a place for seniors in our community to connect and make friends? Do they know that we provide opportunities for people to engage in volunteer activities that help to overcome anxiety and depression? Do they know that we mentor at-risk teens? Do they know our focus on chronic disease such as arthritis and diabetes? Do they know our emphasis on academics in our after-school programs? Do they know that we make a very special promise to be open and accessible to all regardless of race, religion, age, gender, or financial circumstance?

The Dorchester County Family YMCA’s mission is to strengthen the foundations of our community by nurturing and developing the potential of every child, promoting healthy living, and fostering a sense of social responsibility in our community. We do this in a variety of ways that are unique to the needs of our community all while focusing on the wellness of the whole person: spirit, mind, and body. We also strive to weave the values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility into the fabric of all we do.

We are so grateful to our founders for supporting the creation of this Y in our community 30 years ago. That list includes: Kemp Brooks, Hubert Fiery MD, Mark Heckler, Sewell Matthews Jr., John McGinnis, Mollye Meredith, Wyoma Mooney, Mark Resnick DPM and Linda Neighbors. And we are so grateful to our many Y members, local businesses and community partners that have invested in our Y to help make it what it is today.

The proverb “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link” resonates with the socially responsible call that our founders heard and our community continues to rally around.
They knew that a YMCA would bring the kind of support, services and values needed in this community in the decades to come. They understood that we are all connected and that by working together, we are stronger. And they persevered to ensure that this YMCA was able to fulfill its mission. Today, we are proud to be able to do this by:

  • Saving lives through year-round swim lessons and providing the SPLASH Water Safety Program (free of charge) to all 3rd graders in Dorchester County Public Schools.
  • Helping people with chronic illness through AFYAP (Arthritis Foundation YMCA Aquatics Program), which is offered to anyone in our community with a doctor’s recommendation, at no charge. With recent funding from Maryland’s Department of Health, we will be launching a Diabetes Prevention Program for pre-diabetic individuals. Statistics indicate that nearly 45 percent of the adult population in Dorchester County is pre-diabetic.
  • Supporting families with special needs children by offering our Camp Abilities, an inclusive camp for children with special needs integrated into our traditional summer camp program this year. The goal of Camp Abilities is to continue the physical and social development skills the children have achieved during the school year as well as provide a respite opportunity for the parents of challenged children ages 6-18.
  • Partnering to help children and families in need through scholarships for membership, programs and summer camp. A sliding fee scale is designed to fit each family’s financial structure. We believe that a strong sense of ownership and pride is developed if the recipient has contributed to the cost of their membership and/or programming.
  • Opening our doors at no cost to those who need our facility and in times of hardship. During the holidays, the Y opens our pool and gym to Camp Agape, allowing children of incarcerated parents to enjoy a day filled with presents and recreational opportunities. Our pool hosts the CSD Swim Team for practices and meets, the Rescue Fire Company’s dive training, and baptisms for local churches. And in times when fire or other natural disasters have hit our community, the Y has opened our doors to offer shelter and showers to those in need.
  • Striving to breakdown economic barriers for families and to meet the health and social service challenges in our community, our Y remains a second home for many, providing a safe place where inclusiveness is fostered, diversity is embraced, and where children and families can build relationships and find the support needed to build stronger families and communities for a better tomorrow.

So we have great reason to celebrate … for 30 years, anyone who has come through our doors has found the support they need to learn, grow, and thrive. But now, we need the support of our community in order to continue this important commitment — today, tomorrow, and in the decades to come. If you’d like to help our Y continue to meet these needs, please contact us about our Giving Is Living Annual Campaign. And please mark your calendars for the July 25 Heart of the Chesapeake Bike Tour in memory of our dear friend Bob Brannock, as well as our Nov. 7, 30th Anniversary Celebration. For more information about membership, programs and services, please visit us at www.dorchesterymca.org.

Editor’s note: Ms. Hansen is the chief executive officer of the Dorchester County Family YMCA.

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