Essay: The Y – not just a gym

Essay: The Y – not just a gym

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I could barely contain my excitement when the Y opened its doors last spring. The gorgeous facility blew me away. I was so thrilled they had recruited some of the Island’s best personal trainers, yoga and fitness instructors, and I was extremely impressed with how the fitness component was being managed and run.

Knowing that I can always get in a workout because there is someone to watch my children (an Island luxury exclusive to the Y) is invaluable to me. If you haven’t been in yet, I encourage you to do so now. Take a tour and meet the professional, accommodating, and enjoyable staff. I fully expect you will agree that the environment is welcoming, encouraging, and inspiring. Come see the children thriving in the fun, safe, wholesome Y environment — at the Camp Blue summer camp, daily swimming lessons, after-school programs, the child watch or relaxing with their families at the Y Café.

My family and I are strong supporters of the YMCA and the difference it’s making in our community. With the Y’s annual Island Impact Campaign currently underway, there is a misconception that the YMCA does not need your support. With its ample state-of-the-art facility and thriving membership and programs, the Y has enjoyed immediate success. However, the reality is that the program and membership fees fund only 79 percent of the operational costs. The remaining 21 percent of these costs are needed for the Y to adhere to the charitable, community-strengthening principles of its mission.

This year, the Y has awarded more than $89,000 in financial assistance to help families and individuals benefit from Y membership and programs. One in four children in the after-school program is currently receiving financial assistance, and no one has who has applied for financial assistance has been turned away.

Additionally, the Y provides a safe home-away-from-home with motivational and educational programs and mentorships for Island teens. It also boasts successful collaborations with other Island organizations and nonprofits, such as the Martha’s Vineyard Regional swim team, various elementary school physical education programs and athletic teams, the Youth Task Force, the MV Health and Wellness Committee Retreat, Alateen, and MV Youth Soccer. The Y is also actively engaged in co-developing programs and services with other organizations such as The Yard, Featherstone, Elderly Housing, and Community Services.

The Y has offered my family and our community a way to stay healthy and connected. It truly is a place where all walks of the Island come together with a shared passion for nurturing the potential of our children, promoting healthy living and strengthening the foundation of our community. I cannot remember what the Island was like before the Y. Thank you for changing the game for the better. On behalf of my entire family I am truly grateful.

I look forward to celebrating the long-awaited grand opening of the Y’s Alexandra Gagnon Teen Center, on December 10, 3 to 5 pm, to which the public is invited.

Jennifer Marcus lives in West Tisbury with her husband and three children. She is a charter member of the Y, a donor, and a volunteer.