cus·to·di·an [kuh-stoh-dee-uhn] (noun) a person who has custody; keeper; guardian.
As we celebrate the 169th anniversary of the founding of the YMCA it is a good time to reflect on our personal roles within this world wide Movement.
If I look at my own experience within the Y, I’ve been fortunate enough to have held a leadership position for close to 13 years. This represents 7.69% of the current life of the YMCA since it was founded by George Williams in 1844! A speck of time and somehow, for me, it puts in place my role within the YMCA Movement.
The YMCA Movement’s history has been a long one that millions of volunteers and staff have contributed and committed to, including those of us currently engaged with the Y in Australia and around the world.
So with that perspective, I see my role, like that of all of us within the YMCA, as one of a custodian. Custodians of something tangible and intangible, never set in stone, always moving, always impacting, always compassionate and above all, always serving.
For me, my role as a custodian, in terms of our time and place within the Movement, means I have a responsibility to do my part to maintain the integrity of what is the YMCA. That means more than simply protecting the brand or good name of the Y. It means to do my best to ensure the Y remains relevant to community needs, that it maintains and doesn’t weaken its values base, that it understands and draws on its spiritual base, particularly its Christian roots and that it remains focused on its mission to provide opportunities for all people to grow in body, mind and spirit.
I’ve used the word “I” a lot in describing my role and I’ve done so intentionally because of what I see as my personal responsibility within my role as National CEO. But we are a movement of people, of ideals, of passion, with different and often competing views and aspirations for ourselves and for the Movement. That diversity makes the Y what it is!
So as custodians we cannot work alone.
It calls on us to work together, not as owners of a ‘brand’, but as custodians of an ideal, born 169 years ago, to help and provide opportunity, for all people.
Here’s to the next 170 years!