In advance of its annual Welcoming Week celebration, the YMCA of Metro North made a commitment to intensify its efforts to build a diverse pipeline of young leaders in the association. Eight young staff members were tapped for its newly announced Diversity, Inclusion, and Global Engagement (DIG) Team. The DIG Team will focus on increasing diversity in leadership positions, recruiting and retention of diverse staff, culturally competent member and staff engagement, and effective collaboration techniques with organizations serving vulnerable populations.
“Diversity and inclusion work is tremendously important to us here at the YMCA of Metro North and to all YMCAs around the nation,” said Andrea Pirela, Aquatics Director at the Torigian YMCA. “The only way to come together as a community and as a team is to continue to have tough conversations about social injustices. Creating a safe space for all to be welcome is an essential key to success, and keeping in mind always that actions speak louder than words.”
The DIG Team will launch its first initiative during the YMCA’s annual Welcoming Week events to celebrate the diversity of our communities by making the YMCA a place that welcomes everyone, including immigrants, refugees, and other people who often excluded from access to community-based spaces and resources. Welcoming Week is celebrating by thousands of YMCA branches across the country.
“Growing up in Lynn, I see people from all ethnicities and walks of life every day,” said CJ Jeanmary, Youth Sports Director at the Lynn YMCA. “The Y has always informally provided safe spaces for all, formalizing this group is saying we will intentionally support our communities as we all navigate through these challenging times. Meeting the needs of our communities is Y work, and this group has the potential to provide opportunities to all in a place that is home to so many.”
Welcoming Week activities will take place September 12-20 across the YMCA of Metro North branches in Lynn, Melrose, Saugus, and Peabody. Activities will include spaces for people to share their backgrounds and lived experiences, a flag celebration with a variety of nationalities, sharing recipes across people with different ethnicities, and more. The DIG Team will continue its work throughout the year to provide more opportunities to celebrate diversity and inclusion and set diversity and leadership goals for the association to track its progress and report to the public on its efforts.
“Tensions are on the rise in so many regions and we need to be more accountable to our community for creating spaces where people feel a sense of inclusion, belonging, and safety,” said Paul Mantell, Vice President of Human Resources. “Racial violence and anti-immigrant sentiments are raging across the country and the Y must continue to be a force that brings people from all races, backgrounds, and life circumstances together for the better.”