Sometimes seeing is believing.
In January, the boards of directors and trustees of YMCA of Bucks County boarded two buses, with the goal of seeing all of the YMCA branches, camp sites and child care centers in Bucks County. The outcome was a renewed understanding of the mission of the Y and the impact that the newly merged organization makes across Bucks County.
Now one organization, the Ys in Bucks County are governed by an association-wide board and three branch boards, as well as a group of dedicated trustees from the Upper Bucks and Central Bucks County regions. With the merger of Central Bucks Family YMCA, Lower Bucks Family YMCA and Upper Bucks YMCA completed in January 2019, the board and trustees quickly established the logistics of running the new, single organization that would be governed by one, overriding body and regional boards to ensure that the needs and individual character of each branch were represented.
After a year and now a $21 million organization, President/CEO Zane Moore felt it was time to take that understanding a step further and planned a board and trustee bus tour, with stops to include all YMCA of Bucks County locations including five membership branches, six child care centers and a camp site.
“It is a way to deepen the understanding of all of the boards of directors as to how our mission functions at each of the branches,” said Moore. “The needs of the community in Upper Bucks are very different than the needs in Lower Bucks and there is no better way to understand that than to see the mission in action.”
With nearly 60 participants on two buses, the group consisted of YMCA of Bucks County board and trustee volunteers representing many high-profile, regional organizations including ADP, Delaware Valley University, Doylestown Health, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Merrill Lynch, NovaCare and St. Luke’s Hospital, along with Penn Community, Univest and QNB Banks.
The journey started with breakfast and departure from their Warminster branch, with subsequent stops at the New Britain Child Care Center, Doylestown branch and Quakertown branch. The buses then traveled to the Y’s newest child care center, New Hope-Solebury Clubhouse for Kids and then on to the Morrisville child care center, Fairless Hills branch, Holland camp site and Newtown branch.
The bus trip concluded back at the Warminster branch where, over dinner, participants were able to reflect on the day, all they learned and experienced, and to share stories that clearly reenergized their passion for the work of the Y and their roles as volunteer leaders.
Several remarked that the visits were a great way to see first-hand and to clearly understand the impact, challenges and needs in each location. One participant commented, “We have done so much but we have the opportunity to do so much more.”
Many of the participants were impressed by the number of children being fed two or three meals a day in the Y’s programs. “I had no idea that a cold supper could be so important to children and families,” said one attendee.
“When we traveled from the childcare center in Solebury to the child care center in Morrisville, I thought to myself ‘these kids are exactly the same but what a different experience in life they have,’” said Fran Cardaci, chief volunteer officer of the YMCA of Bucks County association-wide board of directors. “I have never woken up a day and thought ‘I wonder what I’m going to eat today.’”
“If you never thought about the impact that the Y makes in our county, today made it clear,” Cardaci concluded.