June 4, 2020

I hope this email finds you doing well. As I send this email, we have now had our doors shut for 82 days. In the early days of this crisis, I never dreamed that our closure could last this long. Each day my heart breaks to not be with YOU, our staff, our greatest asset.

The past couple of days have been some of the most difficult that we have faced as an organization and community. Now, more than ever, we must embrace the values of the Y. The Y is FOR ALL and racism is not tolerated. Our community needs the Y as a safe place to peacefully come together, unite, and build a stronger community, and I cannot wait to open our doors and provide this opportunity.

Amid an already difficult week, we had to make the painful decision to permanently eliminate leadership positions across the Association. This is a decision that was not made easily but was one that was necessary for us to continue to be here for the community in the future. We continue to pursue every opportunity to help us through this crisis, but this decision for reorganizing through position elimination has become a sad reality as we emerge a new organization.

In better news, we were very excited to hear Governor Cuomo announce that Summer Day Camps can open on June 29! This is some of the best news we have gotten in nearly three months. We have been preparing for all scenarios of running day camp this summer, so now we can begin to implement those plans for a safe, fun, and memorable summer for children. We know that kids and families are ready for summer camp this year more than ever.

In more staffing news, it is with mixed emotions that I share the news that longtime Y staff leader, James Smith, has accepted the position of President of Nativity Preparatory Academy. This is an incredible appointment for a deserving Rochester Y leader who will change many lives in this new position. James has spent nearly 20 years with the YMCA of Greater Rochester and worked at all levels of leadership at Lewis Street, Maplewood, MetroCenter, and the Association Office. Most recently James engaged donors and the community in his position as Director of Development and Community Engagement. James’ impact on the Y and the community is immeasurable, and we wish him all the best in his new journey. We regret that we are unable to celebrate his work during this continued time of physical distancing, but please don’t hesitate to send your best wishes to James at: jksmith69@live.com

Our plans for branch reopening remain with the State of New York, and we anxiously await guidance on when we can reopen. As more and more businesses open around us, we feel confident that our plans are a great path forward for a safe and meaningful Y experience for all. We will continue to keep you up to date on any reopening news.

As I close my email this week, it is hard to put into words the many feelings and thoughts I have had through this experience. Not having the opportunity to speak with you face-to-face in our branches, to watch you perform your incredible work, to interact with you and our members, to listen to your experiences, is what makes all of this so hard. I sometimes feel I can’t quite convey in writing my deep commitment to you, to this organization, and to our community. I hope this note can convey that in some small way. Please stay well, take care, and I can’t wait to see your smiling face (even if it is behind a mask!) sometime soon.

All my best,