YMCA reaches out to corporate Cayman

Among those at the YMCA Cayman Islands Corporate Founders Campaign launch were, from left, YMCA Philanthropy Chairman David Watler, Board Chairman Andrew Johnson and past board chairman, Pastor Randy Von Kanel. – Photo: Alan Markoff

The YMCA Cayman Islands launched its “Corporate Founders” fundraising campaign on Tuesday night at the Westin Grand Cayman Resort with an event that highlighted what it does, what it has accomplished so far, and what it plans to do.

One of the main goals of YMCA Cayman is to build a minimum of one full-service, traditional YMCA facility offering a wide range of programs for youth, adults, families and older adults by 2019. However, the purpose of the “Corporate Founders Campaign” is to raise money that will allow the YMCA to build greater awareness of its mission, further develop and expand its programs, and provide the resources for better organizational capacity and stability. The goal of the campaign is to raise $350,000.

Philanthropy Chairman David Watler gave the corporate leaders 10 reasons why they should support the YMCA and then summed it up to the top three: “We’re needs-based, we work with a third of the youth, and we build character,” he said, adding that the Corporate Founders campaign will continue through August.

Although it received its YMCA charter only in 2014, the Y was formed legally in the Cayman Islands in 2012. Pastor Randy Von Kanel, who was instrumental in the formation of the YMCA here, said he thought the organization had accomplished a lot in its short life.

“I stand amazed at the progress of the Y in such a relatively short period of time,” he said, telling guests that they would see and hear of some of the progress through the evening.

YMCA Cayman CEO Greg Smith outlined many of the accomplishments of the organization in Cayman, but he started by telling guests what the YMCA – which was founded in London in 1844 – does and why.

“Our mission is to help people reach their God-given potential by putting Christian principles into practice in ways that build healthy spirt, mind and body for all,” he said. “What the Y does is a lot.”

Before it started any programs in Cayman, Mr. Smith said, the YMCA conducted an assessment to determine where the gaps were. Near the top of the list was the need for an after-school program, something the Y provided in 2015 when it was awarded the management of the Ministry of Education’s Extended After School Care Programme at Grand Cayman’s government schools. That program serves some 1,500 students with a variety of activities, including arts and crafts, performing arts, a school garden project and sports.

Other speakers at Tuesday evening’s event, which was themed “Under The Sea,” included 15-year-old Georgina Balls, who told how her involvement with the YMCA Counsellor-in-Training and Youth Summer Camp programs had affected her life, including giving her the desire to work with children as a career, something she never thought would be the case.

American Denny Ryther, chairman of the U.S. open water swimming committee, told guests how the YMCA impacted his life, which was marred by an abusive father and being put out on the streets of Detroit at age 13.

“If not for the YMCA, I’d probably be in prison,” he said, noting that many of the opportunities he has had in his life have come through his involvement in the YMCA.

For more information about YMCA Cayman, visit www.ymcacayman.ky.