2020-2021 Association Board Chair
President & CEO
LETTER FROM LEADERSHIP
We suspect some of you may share our feeling that 2020 began in earnest, not on January 1, but on March 3—the day we woke up to the aftermath of a tornado that had devastated the communities we hold so dear.
We’ll never forget receiving the calls that our Y-CAP East Nashville campus—home to our youth development staff offices, and a safe haven for kids and teens for nearly 35 years—was utterly destroyed. Not since the 2010 floods, it seems, had Middle Tennessee experienced such widespread damage and corporate grief. And so, as we began to take stock of 2020 for this Annual Report, it seemed only fitting to mark the year’s first winds of turmoil—and the rebuilding we will do—by taking our annual photograph amid the rubble on Russell Street.
As we threw our efforts into relocating staff, assessing the damage, and serving youth in our programs affected by the storms, we had not collectively contemplated the sheer magnitude of the next storm brewing on the horizon. A mere two weeks after the tornado, on March 17, we voluntarily closed all of our family wellness centers as COVID-19 cases climbed alarmingly across the state.
The pandemic shook the very foundations of our community and of our organization. Serving “outside our walls”—a phrase we had long used to describe our outreach efforts—took on a deeper meaning as we sought to keep caring for our members, program participants and neighbors from a safe distance once schools and our Y facilities were forced to close.
In the face of these difficult realities, our Y supporters were generous as ever, contributing an incredible $1.1 million to the YMCA Community Respond Fund, created to address our neighbors’ pressing needs following the tornado and throughout the pandemic.
With that support—and with the kind of innovation that comes under extreme pressure, when the stakes have never been higher—we reimagined the ways we serve our community.
Membership centers became emergency child care sites, youth programming and mentoring went online, and the strong community partnerships on which we have always relied helped us scale a food program that gave out hundreds of thousands of meals to kids and families at no cost to them.
Even amidst a historic forced closure of our facilities for several weeks, and a period of limited capacity and programming, we had the immense privilege of serving 139,385 individuals in 2020, more than 40% of whom were children.
We’ve long said that throughout its storied history, the Y has pivoted to meet the ever-evolving needs of the communities it serves. As I, Dan, approach retirement and survey my 35-year tenure with the Y, I realize how many times I have watched our organization adapt to deliver on our mission, but perhaps never more so than throughout the storms of 2020. And as I, Liz, think about my first year as board chair, I am humbled by the ways in which our staff, volunteers and donors helped us weather the storm.
Now, as the skies begin to clear, we are mindful of the rainbow that appeared after the flood, serving as God’s reminder of a promise to never again destroy. May this annual report be a similar beacon, an enduring testament to the many lives changed and challenges overcome, and a reminder that no matter the storms that await us, we can and will emerge even stronger on the other side.
children cared for at no cost through grant funding from the Tennessee Department of Human Services
youth nurtured and mentored through virtual and in-person programming
in government grants and contracts secured
raised from private donors to meet our neighbors’ urgent needs
ABOVE AND BEYOND
Our staff went above and beyond in 2020, helping our organization endure one of the most challenging seasons in its history. Because of their tireless efforts and their deep commitment to our mission, we were able to not only restore our existing programs and services, but also develop and build new ways of serving our community.