The May 11 Meeting of Mesa West Rotary Club was held at the Ross Farnsworth YMCA 
President Pam Cohen was joined by Mesa West Rotary Club member Greg Bouslog in welcoming members and guests as they arrived.  The meeting was held at the YMCA which was hosting a blood drive for the American Red Cross which was sponsored by Mesa West Rotary as our May service project.  Several of those in attendance at the meeting participated as blood donors.
Introduction of Gests
  • Chuck Flint introduced Jorn Linnewedel who has been a friend of Chuck's since they first met when Jorn was an inbound Rotary Youth Exchange student from Hamburg Germany in 1992-1993.
  • Bert Millett introduced Kelli Millett who is very valued as a blood donor since her blood type is A Negative.
Upcoming 50th Anniversary Gala - call for action
  • President Pam said we all need to be busy making our own reservations for the dinner, and inviting former members, members of other clubs, friends and family to attend the event and celebrate with us.  Paper invitations are available to be sent or taken when visiting other Rotary Clubs.  Among the guests we already know plan to be in attendance is Mesa Mayor John Giles. We need to fill the room for our first "People of Action Dinner." where we will celebrate and honor a non-Rotarian who personifies the Rotary motto of "Service Above Self."
  • Photos of members taken in 1973 are needed.  They can be sent of given to Ed Koeneman who is putting together a visual record of our history.  Photos taken of memorable Rotary moments in each member's life are also needed to help tell our story.  
Information and Tour of East Valley YMCA - Greg Bouslog
As Executive Director of the East Valley YMCA, Greg has been "vocationally challenged" when it comes to being able to attend club meetings.  As the branch executive he is charged with the success of the facility.  They've had a lot of stuff going on with expansion of the facility and a growing staff with changing skillsets required.  In addition, Greg has been in the 2022-23 class of the Mesa Leadership Program.  Keeping up with their activities and curriculum has been very time consuming.  Since he was about to become a graduate of the program, he is hoping his ability to attend will improve.  He values his association with our club and Rotary as a whole as he comes from a family with a long Rotary history.
Greg stated that there are thirteen branches of the YMCA across the state.  Eleven of those branches are in the Valley of the Sun - Phoenix metro area.
They offer a wide aray of services.  They have a 501(c)(3) nonprofit designation which helps them offset the costs of their programs so that no one is turned away because of an inability to pay.  Their services are available for everyone including:
  • Summer Camp
  • After School Program
  • Sports
  • Video Game competition across a wide geographic hee and across the country
  • Safety around water training
  • Community support - last year they gave out 83 thanksgiving meals and expect that number to be closer to 100 this year.
They can always use new volunteers ranging from help with youth sports to helping them expand their board of directors.
They are also a QCO with the State of Arizona tax-credit donation program.
They have 50-0 kids every day participating in their after-school program.  They have a bus which picks children up at their school and transports them to the Y.
During the summer, they offer a summer camp from 6:30 AM to 6:30 PM enabling parents to have a safe place for their kids while they are at work.  They have planned activities.  They teach leadership development skills including a practical understanding of government.
Their sports programs include activities from pre-k through high school  They have been needing a turf field.  A.T.Still University designated some of their land for that purpose.  With the donation of some discarded turf from the Cardinals, the cost of the turf fields went from $750,000 down to $100,000.
Their group swim classes include both parent and child and can include any age.  They pride themselves on having programs/services to serve every age from "diaper to diaper."
They have a very well equipped and maintained fitness center.  Use of the fitness center is a benefit enjoyed by A.T.Still University students as part of their school tuition.  For many adults in the community, their health insurance might cover all or part of the fitness center membership cost.
They do have an annual fundraising campaign to ensure they turn no-one away who cannot pay.  In 2022, they brought in $83,000.  The goal for 2023 was $85,000 and they brought in $96,000.  Those funds will be put to work in 2024.  They need donations, community support, and advocacy.
They have prided themselves on being fluid in meeting needs.  They had to do a lot of adapting during COVID.  They were able to provide child care for essential workers between 6:30 AM and 6:30 PM.  They were able to provide a hybrid place through online learning academy where classes and breaks were carefully scheduled.  Their goal is to meet the needs of the community - whatever they are.
The original YMCA was founded in 1844 in England by John Williams to help kids get on the right track during the industrial revolution.  In Arizona, the YMCA has been around since prior to our becoming a state.  Downtown Phoenix was where it was first located and had a residential program.
A new YMCA program targets those between 18 and 24 who are homeless.  Each person has a caseworker assigned to them and help them get on a track to get out of the program.
If you want to see how the YMCA used the charitable donations received last year, CLICK HERE.