Being a volunteer soccer coach has given Amy a sense of where she belongs in this world, especially when she's standing with the kids and making them feel like winners. This is her Y. Her camera. Her story.
More Y Stories
"I Want to Help Kids Find Their Own Outdoor Adventures."
Mike has always had a love for the great outdoors. He has been hiking and camping since he was a child. Now that he's older, he's giving back to the community by volunteering and guiding kids to appreciate the beauty that surrounds them every day. This is his Y. His camera. His story.
"The Y Was There for Me, and I was Inspired to Give Back."
Years ago, Deirdre turned to the Y at a time in need. Since then, she has been inspired to give back herself, and is now a staunch supporter and volunteer for the Y who is studying to become a social worker so that she can continue giving back to others. This is her Y. Her camera. Her story.
Volunteer at the Y
Across the United States, more than 500,000 business leaders, community advocates, parents, teens and individuals who want to give back and support their neighbors volunteer at the Y. That’s because in 10,000 neighborhoods nationwide, we have the presence and partnerships to not just promise, but deliver positive personal and social change.
With a focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, Y volunteers give men, women and children of all ages and from all walks of life the resources and support they need to be healthy, confident, connected and secure.
Volunteers of the Y
- Lead our boards of directors and committees
- Raise funds to ensure the Y is accessible to all members of the community
- Coach our sports teams and teach many of our classes
- Motivate and support youth in building the character strengths, skills and relationships that lead to positive behaviors, better health, smart life choices and the pursuit of higher education and goals
- Extend a hand to help adults who want to do more, be more or live healthier
- Advocate for the Y’s efforts to influence policies and initiatives that positively impact societal issues of importance to the nation, and your community
- Participate in opportunities to give back and support neighbors
The Y is a nonprofit like no other. Take an active role in strengthening your community.
Togetherhood is a member-led community service program that invites Y members to activate their social responsibility by participating in the Y’s cause to strengthen community. Togetherhood provides Y members with fun, convenient and rewarding ways to give back and support their neighbors.
The program is run through individual Y branches as a partnership between a committee of members and a Y Staff Advisor. It is designed to be a simple, fun and rewarding way for members to identify ways that they can give back and support their neighbors through their own ideas, skills and energy, and the network of the Y.
Service Learning Resources
The Y is pleased to provide a suite of resources that can guide adults in helping youth identify their interests, and connecting those interests to volunteer and service-learning projects in their community. The Guide to Service Learning helps young people figure out what excites them, and what skills and passions they can share as part of the larger world. The Y's service learning resources also include a guide for adults, a survey for teens and a YouTube channel for youth to share experiences and reflections.
Including Volunteers with Diverse Abilities
By Karen Birmingham, Director of Member Engagement, Central Bucks Family YMCA (PA)
One of my favorite aspects of volunteerism is that it serves as a great equalizer. Through volunteerism, we can truly engage “all” in our YMCA mission.
Including volunteers with diverse abilities opens the doors to uniquely special opportunities and experiences. At Central Bucks Family YMCA, we challenge ourselves to look for volunteer experiences that suit a variety of physical and intellectual abilities. It is not always easy to find the perfect fit and although we have certainly made mistakes, we know that inclusion takes work. We have and continue to learn a lot but mostly we have come to realize that the rewards of engaging this group are enormous.
Here are just a few of the many people at our Y who have demonstrated why it’s so important for us to engage volunteers with diverse abilities:
- Ken - One of our most dependable volunteers, he takes public transportation from a group home ten miles away to volunteer at our Y. He has been known to travel two hours by bus, train and walking to make a volunteer commitment. Not only can he be seen several days a week greeting members in our fitness center and assisting with projects in the welcome center, but he helps out at almost every Y event. Quite possibly he knows and greets more members daily than any staff person at our Y. Our members and staff adore him.
- Mike - Began serving on our Togetherhood committee in 2013. Being confined to a wheelchair gives him a unique perspective in helping us insure that our programs and events are ADA friendly and compliant. He now also serves on our board and our Buildings and Grounds committee.
- Patrick - Although he is not very verbal, he greets our members with his contagious smile and makes them feel welcome in a way that words could not.
- Samantha - Her love for children and ability to interact with them is such an asset that after volunteering in Child Watch for several months, she was asked to join our Child Watch staff.
Time and again, we find that individuals with diverse abilities bring an unprecedented amount of passion and excitement to their work. They approach their work with a level of joy that is contagious and they are some of our most dedicated volunteers. Seeing our Y through their eyes helps us provide a better Y for all.
Martin Luther King said it best: Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
Building Bridges of Inclusion through Volunteerism
By Chad Nico Hiu, Director, Diversity & Inclusion, YMCA of the USA and Emily Holthaus, National Director, Social Responsibility, YMCA of the USA
The Y has long played an essential role as a community convener and bridge-builder. This is more important than ever as our communities face increasing polarization, segregation and challenges across all dimensions of diversity. Our Movement connects individuals and families from all walks of life under our common cause of strengthening community and we are committed to welcoming and including all people and helping them reach their full potential.
Our commitment to inclusion comes to life through programs like Togetherhood®, which invites teams of members to lead volunteer service projects in their communities. This unique forum unites members from diverse backgrounds, empowering them to collectively identify critical community needs and work together to address those needs alongside their neighbors and community partners.
We can work collectively to foster empathy, bridge building, and inclusion through volunteerism.
In June, we had the opportunity to present on the Y’s formidable efforts in bridging inclusion gaps at the Points of Light Conference on Volunteering and Service in Detroit, Michigan. Points of Light is a premier national volunteerism and social change organization, which YMCA of the USA collaborates closely with. The conference was an inspiring and vibrant gathering of individuals representing nonprofits, government agencies, and businesses united under the common goal of improving how all sectors of society can work together to improve lives. Speakers included Lonnie Ali, who spoke about her late husband Muhammad Ali's lasting legacy of service to others, and social entrepreneurs Phillip Cooley of Ponyride and Christian Vanizette of MakeSense, who demonstrated the worldwide impact that vision, passion and technology can have when harnessed effectively. We led two workshops, which engaged more than 100 participants in challenging dialogue focused on how we can work collectively to foster empathy, bridge building, and inclusion through volunteerism.
It was emotionally moving to be a part of this gathering of a thousand passionate change-makers. Despite our wildly diverse experiences, each of us shared a common goal of uniting communities to address critical social issues through service. Standing in the back of the auditorium on the final day, listening to a stirring melody played by Mariela Shaker, a virtuoso violinist who shared her personal journey as a Syrian refugee and community leader, we were viscerally part of a formidable movement of positive social change, empathy and inclusion.
To find out about volunteer opportunities, contact your local Y. For general questions about volunteerism at the Y, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to partnering with you on building cohesive communities together.