Neighbors helping neighbors

(VIDEO: Tori’s testimony) Support the YMCA Partners Campaign, help strengthen your local community

Every day, the Dallas YMCA serves as a gathering place for the community. Kids pour in after school to play and do homework. Seniors meet for coffee, group activities, and to connect with one another. Future leaders are born as teens learn more about our government and take action.

As the nation’s leading nonprofit dedicated to youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y is committed to giving everyone the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive, regardless of their financial circumstances.

Gordon Echtenkamp, CEO, YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas

“Our work is not easy, but real and lasting changes can only come about when we work together to invest in our kids, our health and our neighbors,” said Gordon Echtenkamp, president and CEO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas. “The first step to achieving these improvements is having the full support of our community.”

The Y is able to offer these opportunities, thanks to supporters of the YMCA Partners Campaign. The annual campaign provides financial assistance to individuals and families who cannot otherwise afford to take advantage of the Y’s programs and services – programs that encourage children to reach their full potential, allow families to grow stronger, help people improve their health and give back to their community.

Last year, the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas provided more than 100,000 scholarships to kids, adults and seniors throughout the 23 North Texas communities that the Dallas Y serves. Such assistance was made possible thanks to the generosity of 13,265 donors to the YMCA Partners Campaign.

“What is unique about the YMCA Partners campaign is that each of our branches is able to provide scholarships for kids right there in their community – neighbors helping neighbors.”
– Howard Etheridge, 2012 Partners Campaign Chair, YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas

In many places, the Y is known as a place to go swimming or work out, but it’s much more than that. It’s a place that changes lives. For example, Tori grew up at the Park South YMCA, a child of a single parent in a struggling neighborhood.

“For as long as I can remember my mom would always tell me that the YMCA was my surrogate father. I didn’t want to believe her because I wanted a real person with me every day that represented what I thought fatherhood represented – unconditional love, discipline, nurturing, exposure, fun and friendship,” Tori said. “It is only now as I look back over my life that I realize Mom was right. All those things I wanted in a person I got everyday from a place.”

Today, Tori is a senior in college working for the YMCA.

Stories like Tori’s demonstrate the intrinsic value of having a Y in the community. There are many others like Tori who could benefit greatly from the different services and programs offered.

This year more than 1,800 dedicated volunteers are out in the community asking for support. With a goal of raising $4 million, this is no easy task.

YMCA aquatics“What is unique about the YMCA Partners campaign is that each of our branches is able to provide scholarships for kids right there in their community – neighbors helping neighbors,” said Howard Etheridge, YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas 2012 Partners Campaign Chair. “The money raised helps kids stay safe and learn in a licensed afterschool program. It saves lives by providing water safety and swimming lessons where folks need it the most, and it helps families fight childhood obesity by learning healthy eating habits and exercise.”

Each of the 23 branches that make up the Dallas Y run local campaigns, which raise funds that stay and support the children and families in that community. The YMCA branches are as individual as their communities and provide programs which fit the needs of their neighborhoods – programs as individual as Dallas Summer Musical Camps at the Park Cities YMCA, or LIVEstrong at the Y, a program for cancer survivors in partnership with the Lance Armstrong Foundation offered at six area Dallas Ys.

The Y also offers special programs for children with disabilities, like Angel Camp in Rockwall, which provides weeklong summer camp for children with disabilities, and the Miracle League in Irving, which offers adaptive sports programs.

Whether inside our walls in a yoga or zumba class or out in the community providing the Make A Splash program, which teaches lifesaving swimming skills to children in low income apartments, the Y works everyday to met the needs of the community. The YMCA could not do this without the support and investment of individuals and corporations.

When you give to the Y, you help strengthen the community. As the nation’s leading nonprofit for youth and development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y uses your gifts to make a meaningful enduring impact right in your own community.

For more information on how you can donate to a program or to support the Y in your neighborhood, visit

Written by Sarah Byrom, Associate VP of Communications, YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, for publication in Blue Ribbon News and the True Blue Business special supplement to the Wall Street Journal; all rights reserved. 

Read “Love Stories from the YMCA” here.

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