November From the Director

What to be thankful for in 2020?

I am sure we are all tired of hearing about how 2020 has been so different, or a year like no other. All of us have had to deal with the stress and the change of 2020 in our own ways. You might be wishing for 2020 to be over already, so we can just move forward into 2021 with a renewed hope. You just might be right, but 2020 is also a year we can be thankful for.

While all this may be true, at the YMCA we have had so much to be thankful for in 2020. The first two months of the year saw our highest utilization at the Bear Levin Studer and Betty J. Pullum Branches. Our Northeast Branch at the Vickrey Center was starting to get comfortable in their new space and making it feel like their home. Our overall member retention had increased, along with participation in our programs. All signs that the YMCA of Northwest Florida was making a connection with our community. Then March happened.

This is where we all learned about gratitude. Your YMCA was thankful that we have so many organizations serving our communities. We were happy to partner with the Council on Aging, Feeding the Gulf Coast, Baptist Health Care, the City of Pensacola, B.R.A.C.E., the Early Learning Coalition, and so many more. We are thankful that we have a collaborative spirit in Northwest Florida to serve the greater good of the community and push aside organizational agendas and work together to serve. We are thankful that our partners sought us out or accepted our offer to assist them, something often not as easy as it sounds.

Just when things seemed like they were getting back to normal, Hurricane Sally decided to visit. Again, your YMCA was thankful to have such great facilities made possible by the charitable giving of so many people. The Betty J. Pullum Branch handled the storm very well and was back open in days, welcoming members and the community. The Bear Levin Studer Y was without power for days, like so many in Pensacola. Once power was restored, we were thankful that we could host the linemen and women who arrived in Pensacola to help with storm recovery efforts. We know those 300+ linemen were thankful to our members for allowing them the use of our Y as a place to sleep and recover.

Personally, I have much to be thankful for in 2020. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer again and has recovered from having a mastectomy. During October, she prepared herself, had surgery, and is now recovering with the help of family and friends by her side in New Jersey. I am thankful I will get to spend Thanksgiving with her and the rest of my family in Central Florida. I am thankful for healthy children and a wife at home, with a roof above our head. I am thankful for family and friends who reached out from miles away to check on us after Sally. I am thankful the 40’ tree that fell in my yard did not hit the house. I am thankful that my first experience as a child with my local Y has led me to the YMCA of Northwest Florida.

Thankful moments are happening in 2020. We just need to stop and recognize them when they are happening: remember them when we reflect, and keep them close to our hearts when we need a moment of comfort.

Our Mission: To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.