For the Greater Burlington YMCA, Wednesday night’s annual meeting was as an opportunity to highlight not only their own achievements, but to honor another area non-profit for its contributions to create a stronger community. The Y recognized Howard Center with a special award for their years of service to their clients and the impact of their work. Y President and CEO Mary Burns noted the longstanding partnership between the Y and Howard Center. Burns remarked that she did not remember a time during her 29 years with the Y that the two organizations did not collaborate.
“Each day, Howard Center’s compassion and commitment to improve the well-being of all in our community changes thousands of lives,” said Burns. “The Greater Burlington YMCA, time and again, has witnessed the immeasurable impact of Howard Center’s work.”
During their long working history, Howard Center caseworkers have regularly made use of the Y aquatic and fitness facilities to enhance the lives of their clients. During 2014 alone, the collaboration resulted in 1,528 visits by Howard Center clients to the YMCA’s Pomerleau Family Y in Burlington and the Y’s Winooski location.
2014 was also the first full year of a partnership to assist at-risk youth in the Y’s pre-school programs. Howard Center dedicates two staff to the Y to provide therapeutic child care services. As the Y increasingly saw a high-needs population enrolling in their pre-school programs, they looked to expand their services beyond a traditional approach. HowardCenter answered that call. Through this partnership, Howard Center also empowers Y staff with tools and information that allows for a broader spectrum of care to all Y pre-school families.
Accepting the award on behalf of Howard Center, Liz Mitchell, Assistant Director Early Childhood Programs, said, “Our partnership with the YMCA childcare program allows us to support children in a therapeutic environment. Howard Center early childhood clinicians and interventionists partner with YMCA teachers to encourage children to experience success, stability, and a sense of belonging.”
Howard Center staff and board members accepting award from Greater Burlington YMCA in recognition of Howard Center's dedication to building a stronger community.
A plaque presented to Howard Center noted the impact the organization has on the entire community, not just its clients. “We live in a richer, more diverse and more accepting community because of Howard Center.” The plaque inscription concludes by noting Howard Center’s “dedication to mission and what they teach us all about the value of each and every member of our community.”
Before placing the spotlight on Howard Center, the Y highlighted a few of their own achievements in 2014. Board Chair Renee Bourget-Place cited several examples of the Y putting their mission into action.
- Camp Greylock, the Y day camp operated on the shores of Lake Champlain at Kingsland Bay State Park, assisted 68% of campers with financial assistance in 2014. This ensured a summer camp experience was available to everyone in the community. This goal was also furthered by free bus service from seven area communities, a free and nutritious lunch provided to all campers, and reserving 15 slots each week for children entrusted to State custody.
- The Y’s Early Learning Readiness (ELR) program, geared toward children ages 2 to 5, is free and intended to aid low-income families, new Americans and those parenting alone. Last year, the program deepened its relationship with ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, incorporating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) instruction into the ELR program. Cross training with ECHO allowed Y staff to incorporate proven methods of teaching science into the other two ELR sites and all pre-school classrooms. Local Y staff was asked to speak at a national Y conference on this successful partnership.
- In 2014, the Greater Burlington YMCA was asked by the State of Vermont to oversee all six health self-management programs that operate within the State’s Blueprint for Health initiative. The origins of this collaboration are founded in the Y’s success with its own Y Diabetes Prevention Program. In the first six months of managing the six statewide self-management programs, 109 workshops took place with 922 people registering.
About the Y
The Greater Burlington YMCA is a non-profit organization with a mission to build a strong community by involving youth, adults and families in programs and activities that develop spirit, mind and body. Last year, the Y awarded $572,000 in financial assistance so everyone could access the Y’s life enriching programs regardless of ability to pay.