What does World Service mean to you? Unlike most of you, my first YMCA ‘paid’ job was overseas as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I grew up active at my local Branch Y in Cleveland, Ohio, and had a BS in Recreation & Parks Administration, so when Peace Corps offered me the opportunity to start the Y in Turrialba, Costa Rica, I eagerly said “Si.”
Then, in 1981, the Cleveland YMCA raised the funds to send me to Spain for two years, in their early stages post-Franco, as a Young Professional Abroad. Back in the USA for three summers I placed college-age students from around the world to work in American summer camps with ICCP (International Camp Counselor Program). This program was a vital bridge, for example, connecting the two Toledos (Sister Cities Ohio with Spain) to bridge a Y partnership and mentorship.
My guess is that few Y members are aware of YMCA World Service, beyond our roots with George Williams in England in 1844. ‘”YMCAs in 120 countries are working to empower young people to build a just, sustainable, equitable and inclusive world, where every person can reach their full potential.”
The current Y USA World Service Campaign advances “Vision 2030” which goes directly to creating opportunities and make positive change for youth and families through locally led programs, that focus on health and well-being, leadership, preparing for meaningful work, and more. Please click HERE for additional information.
If you are interested in having an active role and direct impact, learn more by connecting with our YMCA Alumni International Service Corps (ISC). This group has connected with YMCAs interested in hosting a Y retiree as a volunteer with expertise to match their specific needs for 2 weeks to 6 months. For example, the young Y in Albania is eager to develop a camping program.
Other opportunities are in childcare, aquatics, strategic planning, and volunteer development. For more information: Visit the ISC info page on our website. You may also email ISC Chair, Wayne Uhrig.
Today there are 39 national YMCAs in Europe. Imagine the collaboration of services provided to meet the needs of all people affected by the war in Ukraine.YMCA Europe Secretary General Juan Simoes Lglesia, started in the YMCA in 1985 as a volunteer camp counselor in Cleveland, and employed by the YMCA since 1988 when he was an intern at Cleveland YMCA. (Juan was National General Secretary of YMCA Spain from 1999 to 2011.) Our paths finally crossed at the 20th YMCA World Council meeting last July in Denmark.
When asked, I joined the Lyon Chapter Board to continue to advocate for YMCA World Service. Please consider sharing your talents as an ISC Volunteer and donate to Y USA World Service campaign. Thank you in advance for ‘Creating a Better World for All’ (the YMCA World Service Campaign slogan).
(Note: The International Service Corp (ISC) is a program of YMCA Alumni. YMCA World Service is a program of the YMCA of the USA.)
Photo: Lindy in Greece.