YMCA of Greater Houston Removes Limits and Reimagines Opportunities in 2021 with “Be Why” Initiative

Ongoing efforts will solve community inequities, inspire action, showcase the Y differently and launch a new Impact Membership offering

The YMCA of Greater Houston announces “By Why,” a multi-faceted initiative targeted to end isolation, fight inequality, inspire youth to thrive, restore hope and well-being for refugees and immigrants, remove limits and reimagine opportunities for all and view the YMCA in a new way. The YMCA of Greater Houston was founded 135 years ago as a place where all people could find hope, fellowship, and healing. The current pandemic has exposed critical issues that require more action from the Y than ever before. The organization’s new direction for 2021 will highlight the Y’s community impact beyond its buildings and provide opportunities such as its new Impact Membership, giving Houstonians a chance to make a difference with the Y.

“As we continue to spearhead the mission to tackle inequities in our community, this will reinforce and strengthen the work our staff and volunteers have been working toward for years and demonstrate that the YMCA is not a place, but a purpose,” states Stephen Ives, President and CEO, YMCA of Greater Houston. “As we move away from the image of being known for our gyms, we can focus on the continued and ongoing effort of creating not just physical space, but developmental and emotional well-being opportunities for people who truly need it most. We want to inspire Houstonians to “Be Why” our Houston community becomes stronger.”

Individuals have a new opportunity to be a part of the YMCA of Greater Houston through their ‘Impact Membership.’ This unique membership is a way for Houstonians to do more with the Y and be an advocate for a stronger, more connected community. This membership will allow the Y to deepen its role as a community-impact organization who is committed to addressing racial inequity, food insecurity, health disparities, social isolation, learning gaps and more. 

Tangible benefits for the Impact Membership include access to an online community of caring and compassionate individuals who are actively improving outcomes for all, with tools, resources and education to drive change within the community and address the members own well-being. Educational and training tools focused on equity, diversity and fighting racism will be available at the YMCA Equity Innovation Center powered by Reliant. Engagement opportunities with the YMCA and other change agents through community events, seminars, and more will be offered throughout the year. Impact Members can add access to a variety of additional programs and services at any time including Wellness Centers, group exercise classes, pools and more at the many Greater Houston Area YMCA locations. The cost to join the Y and become an advocate as an Impact Member is $25 per month.

“Why does a child in need get to eat lunch today? Why does a student get to join her class online? Why did a young girl get saved from trafficking? Why was a senior able to get the social connection he needed? You. You are why,” continues Ives. “The Y challenges Houstonians to be the reason why someone gets an opportunity to thrive and embody the purpose that the Y has now become. By becoming a member of the YMCA, you allow us to fund and develop these programs to truly help in our communities, to battle against the health inequalities in Houston. Join us.”

Despite the many challenges 2020 brought to Houstonians, and an organizational loss of $50 million dollars in revenue, the Y continued to strengthen its core mission, building on the long history of supporting communities and responding to critical needs. To fight racial and social injustice, the YMCA of Greater Houston launched the Equity Innovation Center powered by Reliant. The organization dedicated 20 child care facilities just for essential personnel – allowing these providers to continue to serve their city while knowing their children were safe and well-cared for. The Y also collaborated with food distribution organizations such as the Houston Food Bank, Montgomery County Food Bank, Brighter Bites and Interfaith Ministries to address the growing need and the rapidly increasing food insecurity rates in the community. The Y spent 455,000+ hours serving food and critical supplies and reached over 1 million families. For back to school, the Y and a variety of local partners provided school supplies to over 31,000 Houston-area children in need to ensure that they had the tools to be successful in an already difficult school year. The Y’s board members conducted 11,692 well-being calls to check in on seniors by providing words of encouragement and prevent social isolation.

Community need is great and critical issues must be addressed. Houstonians can look forward to new and impactful ways that the Y will be showing up in communities across the Greater Houston area. Join us in being a part of something bigger than all of us.

For more information about the YMCA of Greater Houston or ways to get involved, please visit www.ymcahouston.org, and follow the organization on Facebook @YMCAHouston and Instagram @YMCAHouston.