It’s hard to believe we are at the close of another year! Collectively as an organization, YMCAs across the state of Texas have a lot to be proud of. In addition to serving as President & CEO of the Austin Metropolitan YMCA, I have had the privilege of serving as the chair of the Texas State Alliance of YMCAs for the past five years. It’s truly been an honor to help lead this Movement and deliver our cause on a statewide level. Beginning in 2017, I’m pleased to pass the baton to the incoming chair Tony Shuman, CEO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth. Under his leadership, I know the Alliance will continue to grow and thrive. As I close out my term as chair, I would like to highlight stories of how volunteers and communities are coming together to support their neighbors as well as share our advocacy priorities for the upcoming legislative session.
Throughout this entire year, Texas YMCAs have been working hard to deliver our cause and strengthen the communities we serve. The YMCA is a volunteer-driven organization and their dedication to our cause is at the core of our efforts. We could not do the work we do without the support of our volunteers. For example, the YMCA of Greater El Paso and Rio Grande Valley mobilized volunteers to advocate for a local policy that would help reduce the occurrence of underage drinking and overall promote healthier behaviors for El Paso youth. At our Wichita Falls YMCA, staff and volunteers partnered with the local fire department to support Luke, a five-year-old boy who tragically lost his mother as he and his father began the healing process. Whether it’s working collectively to impact one family or hundreds of families, Texas YMCAs truly believe that we are stronger together.
As we head into a new year and the 85th Legislative Session, the YMCA remains committed to keeping youth development, healthy living and social responsibility at the forefront of the state legislature’s agenda. We have filed legislation to create a voluntary program that would recognize and incentivize out-of-school time providers to prioritize nutrition and physical activity in their programs. We want to support parents as they seek quality care that will allow their children to have the opportunity to be active and develop healthy habits that will follow them into adulthood. In addition, we are also working with statewide partners to emphasize the importance of drowning prevention programs and strategies. Our Texas YMCAs provide over 90,000 swim lessons each year because we believe that learning to swim is an absolute necessity and we want to empower youth and adults to be safe in and around water. Lastly, we will continue to cultivate our Texas YMCA Legislative Caucus to be a powerful voice and advocate for the 200+ Texas communities we serve.
More importantly, I know the communities we serve will continue to be positively impacted and strengthened as the new chair and YMCAs across Texas work to promote healthy living, youth development, and social responsibility.
James P. Finck, Chair
Texas State Alliance of YMCAs