See The “C”

See The “C”

Fred Astaire once sang about joining the Navy to see the world, but what did he see? He saw the sea.

As I left the Army in 1998 I spent a month at a monastery in Oregon to discern what God would have me do next. I had been a Chaplain’s Assistant in the Army and loved what I was doing, but an injury forced me out of that role and out of the service. I went to the monastery to listen – to see if I felt the call to priesthood or monasticism. What I came away with was the nudge to look for a community organization where I could serve, and, a few months later, I found a job at the YMCA. My roles and responsibilities have changed many times in 17 years, but one thing has never changed: the YMCA serves our community.

I joined the Y to serve the world, and what do I see? I see the C.

Every year, since I first set foot here, I have heard people worry about the role of the “C” in the YMCA. In difficult times it’s often the first thing I’ll hear – that the “C” no longer matters. And, every time, I see that the “C” is the very core of what we do.

I joined the Y to serve the world, and what do I see? I see the C.

I see the C in the program launched by Camp Seymour to feed hungry children in the summer months when school is out and they have limited access to food at home. Feeding the hungry? I see the C.

I see the C in the campaign we run every year to find the funds needed to make sure the Y is available to anyone who wishes to enter its doors, regardless of ability to pay. Helping the poor? I see the C.

I see the C when I walk past a room full of adults learning how to recover from back injuries, strokes or heart attacks. Healing the afflicted? I see the C.

I see the C when I read the success stories coming from the Y’s partnership with Tacoma schools, turning around the drop-out rate and giving our area’s youth a shot at a fuller life and fulfilling career. Helping the downtrodden? I see the C.

I see the C in the pool, where kids and adults, under the watchful eye of skilled lifeguards, learn to not only survive but thrive in the water. Protecting our youth by teaching them skills that can save their lives in our watery corner of the world? I see the C.

I see the C in an organization that, a number of years ago, instituted practices to ensure that every single staff person and volunteer receives Child Abuse Prevention training every single year, without exception, and every staff, member or guest is screened against all available registries to identify offenders. Protecting our children? I see the C.

I see the C in management that, every single year, listens to the community, builds new facilities or invests heavily in renovating the existing buildings so that all may feel welcome and safe. Loving our neighbors? I see the C.

I see the C in leadership that wrestles with the decisions on how best to serve all and, because they are human, sometimes stumble. Forgiveness? Yes. Because I am C.

I joined the Y to serve the world. And what do I see? I see the C. Every day. And I’d be happy to show you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*