YMCA of the Triangle

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Fostering Connections: April 2, 2024

Every time I visit one of our Y branches, camps or programs, I am privileged to get glimpses into the behind-the-scenes magic that makes our teams so great. Whether it’s for a fitness class or a meeting, I fly by to see staff and am reminded of the work we do. 

It never fails to pick me up.  

Every time I walk into the Taylor YMCA, Shyamala Mahadevan hears my voice and with a huge smile on her face, gives me a warm greeting. I don’t know if she’s actually glad to see me, but it sure does feel like she is. I think Shyamala is the type of person that makes everyone she encounters feel as if they are the most important person around.

I dropped by the Chapel Hill Y last week when Denise Done was in the office. She stopped what she was doing to walk around the facility with me and she shared some of the great things, as well as the challenges, that the team is facing – particularly with an older facility. In every room we stepped in, every corridor we walked through, Denise called a member by name, introduced me and shared some bit of history about the person I was meeting. She INVESTS in people.

Folks aren’t coming to the Chapel Hill YMCA because it is shiny and new. People come there because of Denise and the team Aubrey has in place. It’s a place where they feel that they belong.

I see members of our team building folks up, supporting kids or teens in need, asking thoughtful questions that lead to relationships and belonging. They go about their job each day with smiles on their faces, often never knowing the impact they have on the people who come through our branches, camps or programs day in and day out.

Just a couple weeks ago, we had three colleagues recognized by the YMCA Professional Network at the regional Chapter 23 conference. Ines Freile at the Taylor Y received the Cause-Driven Leader Award and both Kim Keith, our VP of Youth Development, and Jess Joiner, the Association Director of Membership, were recognized with Leadership Excellence Awards.

I know no one on our Y team is here for the awards, but I am so happy they were recognized. 
The Y employs more than 400 full-time staff and upwards of 3,600 part-time team members depending on the time of the year and we are committed to pouring into staff to make sure all 4,000+ feel a sense of belonging and feel appreciated while they are at work. 

Which is why we are expanding some of the full-time benefits to serve more equitably those who serve our members and program participants so well. And why one of the driving organizational goals is ensuring we are a Workplace of Choice so we can continue to attract and retain top talent like Shyamala, Denise, Ines, Kim and Jess.