Each spring, the YMCA of Greater San Antonio kicks off its One Y campaign to raise funds for financial assistance for people who are interested in joining the YMCA as a member or enrolling in programs but cannot afford the retail cost.
“At the Y, we want to remove any barriers to help others attain a healthy lifestyle,” said Shannon Gowen, Senior Director of Mission Advancement and Communications of the YMCA of Greater San Antonio.
The One Y Campaign officially kicks off on April 18. Last year, the campaign gave away over $1 million in financial support and aims to increase that amount to $1.2 million this year. Funds raised will go toward memberships, reduced-rate memberships, and access to the many programs the YMCA offers, such as swimming lessons, child care, youth sports, healthy living and summer camp.
Financial assistance is available through the Open Doors scholarship program, which only requires applying.
Gowen hopes the community will be inspired to get involved by becoming fundraisers themselves, sharing their stories and support with life-changing monetary donations this year. She also encourages the community to follow the Y on all social media platforms, where the YMCA will share endless impact stories from members, volunteers, staff, and others for their Why the Y Campaign. The Y community shares stories about why they chose to support this longstanding organization.
“Just about everyone you meet has their own Y story,” she said. “Our goal is to bring awareness to these shared experiences [at the YMCA] and let’s celebrate them.”
In the 175 years since the organization's establishment and the 147 years of its presence in the greater San Antonio area, the YMCA has provided a safe and friendly environment to come together as a community. Today, the YMCA’s 12 San Antonio facilities include youth sports, swimming lessons, group exercise, personal training, mental health services, child care and healthy living classes on subjects such as diabetes prevention and blood pressure monitoring.
“The Y adapts to the needs of the community,” Gowen said. “During the pandemic, when our doors were closed, we still had food drives in four locations every week. We still checked in on seniors who were socially isolated. We essential workers had access to free child care. And we ensured that people could use our Wi-Fi from our parking lots to stay connected. We shifted what we traditionally offered the community.”
As the YMCA continues to meet the community's changing needs, it will expand their offers with free mental health counseling for teens and families. And the YMCA of Greater San Antonio will be the first Y to establish a partnership with Peloton, piloting the program at two locations to offer free Peloton memberships for YMCA members to join in the virtual classes in a community environment.
“We’re working with Peloton to create small studio experiences within our Y locations offering a new experience for everyone from fanatics to Peloton newbies,” said Gowen.
The YMCA of Greater San Antonio has also invested and expanded its pickleball courts and leagues. Pickleball is America’s fastest growing sport and the Y offers open play at affordable rates compared to local competitors.
“Every weekend the courts are completely full,” Gowen said.
The One Y Campaign will host regional mixers before the official kick-off campaign begins. Community members, volunteers and board members will come together to create grassroots campaigns on social media to inspire donations. Gowen encourages everyone to get involved and attend these events.
“We need to continue to support community needs and ensure anyone interested in becoming a part of the Y, has the ability to do so.”
The free regional mixer events will take place at the D.R. Semmes Family YMCA on March 28 at 6 pm and at the YMCA Schertz Area Senior Center on March 30 at 6 pm.
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