With each passing year, the YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County changes to meet the needs of our community. We keep a pulse on trends, demographics, our mission, and our strategic and operational plans to accomplish this.
In August, we moved our childcare program within the Adams Commerce Center and entered into a new lease. This move allowed us to expand the number of children we serve and added space which was designed specifically to allow the best practices in child care. We have increased the number of classrooms to maximize square footage and provide the opportunity for smaller numbers of children in each room. The teachers and families attending the program are very excited about this change.
We closed down for five days in August – the first time we ever did that extensive of a closure. With a membership of over 3350 members, and a facility that is open over 100 hours each week, our YWCA is used hard. During our closure, we were able to accomplish the following: painted the gymnasium and shower areas along with the dance, yoga, and cycle rooms; relocated our TRX Trainer; sealed and lined the parking lot; repaired showers; power washed the pool deck and installed new lights in the pool area; sanded and painted the whirlpool; stripped and waxed floors; and performed deep cleaning in all areas of the facility. We also added new equipment to our fitness center. We accomplished this with the hard work of more than 60 staff and a great group of board members and volunteers.
We brought new programs to the YWCA in 2016, like our specially designed Silver Sneakers classes geared towards seniors. We worked with the Gettysburg Foundation and the National Military Park to execute a successful marathon on park roads. Plans are underway for a half and full marathon in November 2017! We negotiated a lease on two outdoor pools. Our goal with the pools was to provide more opportunities to our members and in offering a great discount to annual memberships, increase the number of annual members. It was a success, so much so that we will once again provide this opportunity to our members and the community!
We are in year three of our working and measureable strategic plan. Our mission remains intact, “The YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.” Our local association is constantly evolving to meet the needs of the community, and we are united by our “Living our Mission” statement – we will work to be the center for personal and community growth, a place to learn, to play, and to improve emotional and physical well-being. By connecting cultures, encouraging healthy lifestyles, and empowering all who walk through our doors, we will guide Adams County to positive change.
Our strategic plan serves as a living document to guide us in decision-making, planning and use of resources for a five year period. Each year, we develop an operating plan to help ensure we attain our five-year goals and visions. In our plan, we have four areas of focus: Diversity, Fiscal Health, Community Engagement and Member Experience.
Regarding diversity, the plan calls for our membership, staff and board to mirror the makeup of the community. We were pleased to see in the baseline data that we do indeed mirror the diversity of our community. We worked with Jeanne Arnold, Chief Diversity Officer at Gettysburg College, to lead the management team in Intercultural Development Inventory training. In order to understand our cultural differences, we needed to know how our management team scored and learn ways to increase our intercultural competence.
Our organization welcomes all people. We have a financial assistance program for those who cannot afford our services and through our Hallmark Sponsors, we open our facility free of charge one Saturday per month. We offer programs to learn and talk about our differences. In April, we are partnering with the Middle East Justice and Peace Group of Central PA for a free community forum on racial and ethnic profiling.
When it comes to Fiscal Health, we feel that the YWCA currently has a strong financial footing but needs to prepare for a sustainable future. We have established a ‘rainy day’ fund to help cover those maintenance repairs that we had not budgeted or prepared for. This continues to be our biggest struggle, having the finances to do everything we need and want to do.
In our efforts for Community Engagement, we want to guide Adams County to positive change by reaching out beyond the walls of the YWCA. One key to our success will be working with our current community partners and engaging with others as we look at the demographics and new trends of the area. The other key is to have our YWCA staff live our mission, be examples, and inspire others to pursue positive change and build healthy lifestyles. To do this, we need to develop a work environment that fosters enthusiasm and top-rate customer service.
And lastly, I want to explain our focus on Member Experience. We want to make every visit to our YWCA a positive experience and build genuine personal relationships with everyone we encounter. We are awaiting results of our recent customer service survey; our goal is to increase customer satisfaction. I mentioned earlier that with the number of people we serve and the amount of hours we are open, this is no easy task. I do feel that by listening to the collective voices of our members and more importantly, letting them know we hear them, moves us all in the right direction. We know we’ll never please everyone but we will continue to help the majority!
I feel progress happens anytime we set goals and accomplish them; anytime we can make a difference in someone’s life; anytime we can tear the barriers down and unite together. The YWCA is synonymous with change and progress.