During my first year as Board Chair, it quickly became apparent just how passionate, enthusiastic and committed our staff and volunteers are in their various roles. I was fortunate to visit a number of sites across Victoria in between lockdowns. It was inspiring to see first-hand the high valued relationships that exist between the Y and local communities.
The power of relationships is enormous. I believe this feature differentiates our organisation from others – we truly care about the outcomes for young people and the communities we serve. Dr Lindsay McMillan
To state the obvious, this past year has been challenging on many fronts. The constant 'stop / start' and 'close / reopen' created uncertainty and for many, anxiety. Yet, through it all, we have heard some amazing stories of resilience and fortitude emerge. Many staff who worked throughout the pandemic took up the opportunity to donate a day of their pay to support their colleagues who were unable to work due to our sites being closed. This is an outstanding picture of what the Y is all about. It is about people who care for one another.
Our volunteers have also gone above and beyond this year. One of those volunteers is Barry Furness, who is retiring after 40 years. Thank you, Barry – the Y will miss your undeniable passion for helping the community. We value our volunteers immensely and thank you for your time and commitment to our mission.
Through Virtual Y, the Y has continued to support the community by bringing our programs and services to people’s living rooms. Virtual Y will continue to be an important resource for people as we reopen – especially for those Victorians living in regional and rural areas. Furthermore, I am very confident our physical spaces in aquatics and recreation, camping, early learning and youth services will bounce back with the smiles, sounds and enjoyment of families, children, young people and communities as they reconnect with each other, staff and volunteers.
My connection with the Y is enduring in so many ways, as I grew up with the organisation. As a young boy, I participated in Saturday morning gymnastics and learnt how to swim at the old City Road Y in Melbourne. Back then, I could never have imagined that I would one day become the Board Chair of such a diverse, dynamic and inspiring organisation. Since commencing this role, my connection to the Y has only strengthened. In the coming year, I look forward to meeting you and getting back to doing what we do best – creating high valued and meaningful impact in our communities and in the lives of those we touch through our many activities and services.
In conclusion, I would like to thank my fellow directors who continue to volunteer and dedicate hundreds of hours to their role in governing the Y. Finally, Carolyn Morris and the Executive Leadership Team need to be elevated with our deep appreciation for their exceptional leadership over this past difficult year – your compassion, drive, professionalism and dedication to supporting our people is outstanding and certainly inspiring.
More from our leaders
If last year was about survival and resilience, this year has been about patience and hope. The Y will continue to persevere through the face of hardship. We will continue to do whatever it takes to ensure we can welcome the community back through our doors.
"Through every lockdown and every challenge that comes our way, it never ceases to amaze me how our staff, volunteers, partners, governments and our communities rally together to support one another. We may have a long road to recovery ahead of us, but we will get there."
Casey is a Board Director at YMCA Victoria and Chair of the Youth Affairs Subcommittee and Risk Subcommittee. "It has been such a privilege to be a part of the Y’s journey this year. I hope that we can continue to work together to empower young people to amplify their voice, contribute to better community outcomes and be a positive force for change in the world."