An Open Letter to Our Community: A Return to Kindness
By Denise Day, President & CEO, YMCA of Greater Brandywine
Our community is in crisis.
As the CEO of a large non-profit in Chester County, the YMCA of Greater Brandywine, I have received my fair share of uncomfortable emails. It is a part of my job – and an important part of supporting the needs of our community – something for which we continually strive at the YMCA. I welcome honest and constructive feedback.
However, recently, the tone of the emails I receive has shifted and the intensity with which I receive them continues to climb. What might once have been a comment about a piece of equipment, or a challenging interaction is now more often an attack on core human values—respect, honesty, care for one another and acceptance.
I know each of us is advocating for what we think is best for our community and our families. But hate, vitriol and ignorance cannot be the path forward. Canceling events, boycotting people or organizations or sending hateful emails doesn’t facilitate growth or change – it simply polarizes us.
We can do better. We must do better.
The YMCA of Greater Brandywine recently kicked off a Kindness Initiative. Put simply, it is a year focused on supporting one another, lifting each other up, opening conversations and loving thy neighbor. The year was originally focused more on acts – donating items or giving blood, volunteering and other ways of showing support for one another.
Now, seeing the wide spectrum of disconcerting and hurtful communications we received because of our involvement in the planning of CommUNITY OutFest – an event that was scheduled for October 1, recognizing National Coming Out Day and seeking unity and which has since been canceled – I realize that we must also find ways to bring our community together through education.
We must open our minds and widen our perspectives. In our diverse world, we are stronger when we embrace our differences and share an openness and willingness to learn.
The YMCA of Greater Brandywine has long sought to prioritize efforts supporting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). As a national organization we are guided by our core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility and we are dedicated to giving people of ALL ages, backgrounds and walks of life the opportunity to reach their full potential with dignity.
Seeing that the need for this is greater than ever, we will add community programming at the YMCA of Greater Brandywine around DEI as core components of our Kindness Initiative. Programming that seeks to bring together a diverse group of individuals in conversation.
We are looking for partners and organizations in the community who are willing to join us in this endeavor as we seek inclusivity and move away from hate and ignorance. If you are one of those organizations or individuals, please click here or visit ymcagbw.org/kindness to join us in our efforts.
The YMCA of Greater Brandywine embraces the values and beliefs which support and reflect the inclusion and appreciation of all individuals and believes that in a diverse world, we are stronger when we are inclusive. Creating the world we all want to live in begins with each of us making the conscious choice to act with kindness.