Here's How the YMCA is Welcoming

By: Mollie Shauger | Friday, September 13, 2019 | Our Cause

YMCA members. Credit: Y-USA

During Welcoming Week from Sept. 13-22, YMCAs across the world will celebrate the rich diversity of their communities, and the values that unite us as neighbors, parents, and colleagues. The week is also a chance to make our communities more welcoming to newcomers and to everyone who calls them home.

Here’s a look at how the YMCA works year-round to make sure that everyone, regardless of background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.

1. There’s no criteria to join. 

We welcome all members regardless of ability, age, background, ethnicity/race, faith, income, gender identity or sexual orientation.

2. We connect cultures and communities.

Everyday at the Y is a chance for strangers to become friends, whether it’s through child care, camp, group classes or volunteering. We provide opportunities for cultural exchanges by welcoming staff, campers, and students from all over the globe, who speak different languages and celebrate different customs. The YMCA’s volunteer opportunities bring together people of all backgrounds while giving back to the diverse communities we serve. 

3. We support our newest neighbors.

The YMCA has a long history of welcoming and engaging immigrants, by making Y programs accessible to immigrants and refugees so that they can integrate into the community. In fact, it was the YMCA that launched the nation’s first English as a Second Language class in 1956. The Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges has helped to continue this effort by partnering with local organizations to offer ESL classes to Syrian refugees.

4. We provide a safe space for all.

We strive to be a safe and comfortable environment for all who participate in our programs. We work to combat biases and increase understanding of gender identity and sexuality through education and awareness. Training is provided to staff so that they are better equipped to serve youth with diverse abilities, backgrounds and challenges. 

5. We are accessible to all. 

The YMCA believes the ability to pay should not be a barrier for accessing our programs. We offer financial assistance to individuals and families who qualify through our Y for All Fund. Through our generous donors, we have been able to help more children and families learn to swim, attend camp or child care, or improve their health.

6. We are a non-partisan organization. 

We value other viewpoints and don’t take public positions on partisan issues.

7. We welcome all ages and skill levels.

Our programs offer experiences for everyone, from infants to seniors. Whether you’re just learning to swim or trying out for a swim team, you’re welcome at the Y. If you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting to work out at the gym, you’re welcome at the Y. 

Visit to find out more about Welcoming Week activities and other programs at your local branch.


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