Often, the worst of times can
bring out the best in people. We witnessed this firsthand at the Somerset
Valley YMCA. While almost all of us were impacted one way or another by
Hurricane Sandy, two of our branches in Somerville and Hillsborough were
fortunate enough to have power. On Oct. 31, Somerville opened its doors to the
community, followed by Hillsborough on Nov. 2. We immediately communicated that
we would welcome ALL in the community who needed to escape the prolonged power
outages at their homes and offices.
From offering hot showers and
charging stations, as well as swimming and gym play for youth and teens, to
simply providing a place to connect with fellow community members in a warm environment,
the Y was there. Indeed, over the next 12 days, thousands of children, youth,
teens, adults, seniors and families streamed in free of charge, member or
non-member of our YMCA, to use our services.
The point of this letter is not to celebrate the
great work our staff did in making sure everyone got what they needed (though
they certainly deserve much gratitude).
As an organization that stands for youth development, healthy living and
social responsibility, it is our privilege to be able to do such work. I can
think of no better way to live our cause than to provide community service in
difficult times. But I would like to focus on the numerous volunteers from the
community who donated time, money, food and supplies to our efforts.
Unsolicited, your neighbors bought in water, hot meals, toiletries, snacks and
so much more so that those who came to our Y were able to experience just a
little touch of home and the comfort of knowing others cared. Our kitchen and
offices overflowed with food staples, hand warmers, soap and other necessities.
Volunteers stayed and helped coordinate the power charging tables, poured hot
coffee or acted as host or hostess to make sure everyone was taken care of.
We could not have accommodated the many who
needed us without the folks who pitched in, unasked, to help. They are the
angels who make our communities so special. I am sure there were stories like
these in all of our neighborhoods during and after the storm. It makes me proud
to serve such a generous, welcoming community that truly understands what it
means to “be in this together.”
On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff
of the Somerset Valley YMCA, we thank you all and remain honored to serve you.