The YMCA shows the power of community

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For well over a century, YMCA of Northern Alberta has been serving communities in central and northern Alberta. Through world wars, The Great Depression, and wildfires, they’ve been there.

So while the last year has been challenging for all of us, and when connection is needed more than ever, it’s no surprise that the Y continues to transform neighborhoods into strong communities and provide services for all people to feel supported. Join YMCA of Northern Alberta throughout March for the Month of Giving, as they raise $100,000 to serve the community’s greatest needs.

Every year, the YMCA proudly helps more than 120,000 people find refuge through their programs. The Y ensures all members of our communities have access to a Y experience - which means children, youth, families, the underprivileged and marginalized, newcomers, visible minorities, people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, and those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 can have access to the Y’s 72 childcare programs, 28 community and affordable housing initiatives, community centres, and Health, fitness, and aquatic centres. During the Month of Giving, your gift can mean a stronger community for all, regardless of financial background.

One of the countless people who have benefited from the YMCA’s programs is Simi Multani. Simi was a single mother to her 3-month old son, and was living in a women’s shelter when she first learned about the YMCA. “There was a bulletin up with information on how to apply for a new affordable housing YMCA residence called Melcor Village, that was in the process of being built to house low-income families. There was also information about the Y’s Family Allies Program. I applied to both and got in and accepted within two months.”

YMCA’s Family Allies program addresses the need for stability to families that are economically disadvantaged. With the Family Allies program, Simi developed habits to help her family function, and learned critical life skills like paying bills, budgeting, and grocery shopping. A close relationship with the Family Allies Support Worker led her to joining another YMCA program called Bridging the Gap, a program that provides tools and resources to youth aged 15-30 to help prepare them to enter the workforce.

When speaking about what she hoped to get from the program, Simi told us “I was hoping to get a job when I joined the program and through Bridging the Gap, I was able to strengthen my interview skills and land my first job, which was actually as a receptionist at the Bill Rees YMCA.”

There are many in your community like Simi, facing economic and social barriers, who need support to help them feel their best. The Y is where they can turn, but the Y can’t help people belong and thrive without the support of its donors.

What does your donation mean? When you give to the Y, you help kids thrive through programs such as childcare, day camps, and community initiatives that develop leadership skills, support at-risk youth with employment and schooling needs, and connect youth to a safe and inclusive environment. Your gift can mean families will have support through housing and wellness programs, and they’ll have access to support workers, cooking classes, parenting sessions, and more.

Prior to the global pandemic, the YMCA supported our communities with childcare for 3,000 kids daily, provided housing for 10,000 of our neighbours, and helped over 23,000 people get active with health and fitness programs. With multiple facility closures impacting the availability of certain programs, and many Albertans impacted by the downturn in the economy, the Y anticipates the need to access the YMCA and financial assistance to be greater than ever. For their 2020 programs and initiatives, the YMCA spent over $164,000 – up from the $153,000 needed for their 2019 programs.

While the YMCA can support our community, they are asking you to give, so their support will be possible. Donations are critical to allow the Y to continue serving the Northern and central Alberta community, and all funds raised will help the YMCA make your community stronger.

“When I lived at Melcor, I would walk up and read the names of all the donors that made this all possible. I thank each and every donor from the bottom of my heart. The Y helped make me be able to do this all for my son. I hope he is proud of me.”

The YMCA has transformed the lives of thousands of people in our community, just like Simi. If you want to improve your own wellbeing and make a difference in the life of others in your community, please donate today at northernalberta.ymca.ca/give, to give and learn about how your donations help change the lives of children, individuals, and families in our community.