As many of you know, I grew up in the YMCA. My Dad (Tom Pearson, lover of fundamental basketball) was the director of the YMCA in Franklin, VA for 25 years and I spent countless hours at the Y in my youth. I learned to swim, had my first exposure to competitive basketball, baseball, and soccer at the Y. I attended Y Day and Residence camps, and as a teenager, experienced a life changing week every summer as an attendee of Blue Ridge Leader's School.
I had my first paid (camp counselor) and non-paid (also camp counselor) jobs at the Y, and was always very proud to have a place to work, to give back, and to teach kids about basketball or soccer or archery (even if I didn't know much about archery).
The many activities, led by the incredible staff and group of volunteers, greatly contributed to the development of the person I am today.
And now it is time for me to pay it forward. I have recently joined the Board of Manager of the West Side YMCA in Manhattan. It’s the world’s largest YMCA and has an incredible suite of programming. The West Side Y has everything from your standard swim lessons and Leader’s Club to youth arts programming, Teen Career Connections job placement, a working hotel and low-income housing to serve the neighborhood.
The West Side Y is an incredible “third place” that serves the community. Not to get all political science-y on you, but a third place is defined as a place outside of the home and workplace where people gather and share ideas. Third places were most famously discussed in Robert Putnam’s seminal work Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital.
And we need third places–where people can come together for fitness and fellowship–in these overactive, overcooked and generally crazy times. Whatever your race, gender, religion, etc. you always have a place at the Y.
The West Side Y, like most Y's around the country, turns no one away because of inability to pay. Subsidized memberships, program fees, and community outreach programs make up a significant portion of the Y's operating budget. To help fund these incredible programs, I am asking you to make a donation to the West Side YMCA via this Crowdrise page.
I hope you’ll consider giving anything you can to fund the West Side Y, and help it remain a pillar of the New York City community.
My goal is to raise $5,000, with $1,000 coming from my own personal contribution, another $1,000 from a company match, and the remainder coming from friends and family.
Thanks for anything that you can give.