What it means to be a Member

Y's Men's Clubs, also known widely as Y's Service Clubs, are community service clubs for both men and women. Their work centres around the YMCA but then what kind of work is it?

It is many things……

  • It is anything from volunteering at the front desk, to taking kids to asthma camps, to patching leaks of all kinds.
  • It is helping kids who can’t afford to go to camp. It is helping buy a new van for the local YMCA, a wheel chair for a needy person or building swimming pools to help make the 'YMCA' a fun place to be.
  • It's getting cots for child care, cabinets for the offices, giving your small coats to more needy kids. It's getting cans and cans of paint and helping paint an old building.
  • It is making the time to help mark the football field.
  • It is scholarships for the young people who plan to pursue a YMCA career.
  • It is volunteers who serve on YMCA boards and committees, who work as coaches, referees, and umpires, who rebuild cabin roofs, remodel rooms and who paint, clean and fix-up.
  • It's eye clinics in India, teachers in Thailand, an educational centre in Papua New Guinea, and outreach to kids in Kenya. It's antique shows and auctions, book sales and breakfasts, Christmas tree sales and carnivals, dinners and dances, Easter breakfasts and everything in between to raise funds and lend support to the YMCAs and their immediate community.

All Y's Men Clubs, across the globe, are partners with the YMCAs in their cities and towns. They serve the community together. This is what it means to be a Y's Man or Woman.

"The dedication of the Y's Men and Women is just unreal. They are the backbone of our programs in terms of volunteers. They don’t turn down anything you ask them to do. They are a group that makes things happen."

- Charles Johnson
Rowan County YMCA, North Carolina, USA

Service

Whether it's painting day care rooms, building storage cabinets, installing new floors, making swimming pool lane line-floats, or re-roofing cabins, the Y's Men and Women put in thousands of hours of labour at YMCAs. Some clubs sponsor monthly cleanups.

The members take on volunteer responsibilities which vary from serving on the board of directors to answering calls at the front desk. They bring their expertise and business and social skills to the "Y" (YMCA). That could mean easing the way for a company-financed grant for youth work or providing the engineering know-how to repair a camp lodge or building.

Leadership

Many volunteers first begin to know the full extent of the YMCA through Y's Men. By working with the club at their own YMCA, they learn about our mission - helping children and families grow strong in communities around the world.

Club leaders develop skills that make them prime candidates for committees and boards. Many go on to serve at regional, national and international levels. They also play vital roles in membership campaigns and fundraising for both annual operating support and capital improvements.

International

Each club belongs to the International Association of Y's Men’s Clubs, with its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Over half the countries with YMCAs have Y's Men and Women service clubs. Around 30,000 Y's Men and Women are at work in  over 70 countries around the world.

Internationally, the Y's Men and Women support two exchange programmes: the Youth Educational Exchange Programme and the Short Term Exchange programme. The first connects young people from clubs around the world with families in other countries for a year's stay and the second for periods of 3 to 11 weeks, either in a different area of the country or abroad. The clubs also support the Brotherhood Fund, which provides funds for club members from one country to travel to meet club members in another; Brother Clubs, which are partnerships formed between clubs in different countries; and the Time of Fast, the fundraiser that is based on skipping a meal and paying the cost of that meal in one's country to help others internationally.

Time of Fast has contributed about $4 million to YMCA projects around the world. Its programmes have included outreach to Tamil refugees in Sri Lanka, famine relief in Ethiopia, kindergarten classes in Burma, urban development in Uruguay, sewing classes in Bangladesh, and rural development in Papua New Guinea.

Fundraising

Y's Men and Women are volunteer fundraisers for the YMCA. Fundraising activities are varied - they include used book sales, cookouts, art auctions, food booths/stands, recycling, tournaments, dances, contests, flea markets, sports days, lotteries, raffles, etc.

These funds help pay for youth programmes, kids at camp, outreach programmes, international work, training and scholarships for Y staff members, new additions and buildings and special equipment.

Community

As Y's Men and Women, we are a group that can be the eyes and ears of the YMCA and help it meet the greater needs of the community. We act as representatives for the YMCA in the community and any club that's out there in the community working positively for the YMCA is an asset.

A person-to-person approach is often the best public relations tool you can have. The Y's Men and Women give that personal touch by becoming the YMCA's ambassadors to their friends, business associates and neighbours.

Fellowship

Clubs usually meet twice a month, combining business and fellowship over a meal. The meetings often feature a speaker. Clubs also sponsor social events for the members. In communities across the world, the Y's Men and Women, united by the will to serve the community through the YMCA, work, grow as individuals and have fun together. And during Area and International Conventions, life-long friendships spanning the entire globe are often formed.