Getting involved and taking part to better the community and oneself is a very important and commonly seen action at Springfield College. This is showcased within the student leaders that make up Springfield College’s YMCA club. The YMCA club is a group that works with the YMCA organization. They are able to attend conferences off-campus in order to learn and grow, as well as host activities on campus to teach fellow students about the values of the Y.
“We focus on different aspects of leadership, community service, career networking…. Our upcoming meeting this week is on the values of the Y, there are four core values of the Y which are honesty, responsibility, caring and respect,” said one of the club’s program directors, Kyla Boyns.
As the official website states, the YMCA is a national organization that reaches over 10,000 communities across the country. The Y is committed to helping young people grow to their full potential, improve well-being, and create opportunities for people to live healthy, secure, and confident lives.
“Our club really focuses on being an inclusive space for all students on campus…. We really just want to be that space that includes everyone and makes everyone feel at home,” Boyns said.
The club traditionally puts on different events for the Springfield College community to attend and learn about different inclusion initiatives that the Y promotes.
“This past spring we actually ran a DIG event on campus, so DIG stands for Diversity Inclusion and Global initiative, and we brought in two people from Y USA basically to talk about diversity inclusion, and it actually won program of the year through SGA which was really cool,” said Boyns.
This year due to COVID-19 all clubs are limited with what they are able to do, but that won’t stop the Y club from continuing their work.
“I know for our programs they are going to be a little more limited this semester because we are in the middle of a pandemic,” said another program director, Mollyrose McCarthy. “We will still have opportunities for students to meet with Y professionals somehow within this year and the next.”
There are events coming up within the next couple weeks, although they will be conducted virtually.
“We have an event coming up, actually it’s Oct. 5th… it’s called ‘Movies for Mental Health’, we’re partnering with the Office of Multicultural Affairs and it’s basically going to be a Zoom event where they showcase three short films about different aspects of mental health,” said Boyns.
They also have discussed the possibility of doing a career networking event that will most likely happen next semester, hopefully when circumstances can be a little more lenient.
Despite the many activities hosted on campus during students’ four years here, the Y club is not limited to time spent at Springfield College. Students highly interested in the work they do with the Y club can apply it to their academics and career with a Y professional studies minor. Being a part of the club now can really help students’ experiences and knowledge before taking the dive into the actual career.
“So we have a lot of great partnerships… with Ben who is our assistant director, they have so many great connections, so whether it’s volunteering at a local Y, or going halfway across the world to volunteer with the Colombia Y, or going to an international conference in London, we just have so many connections everywhere,” Boyns said.
The aspect that is stressed the most by the two program directors is the feeling of belonging that students are given from being a part of this club.
“One thing [students] can get out of it is a sense of community. One of the things that we pride ourselves on is that we are ‘it’s the Y for all,’ so anybody of any ethnic background, age, sexuality, gender are welcome here and it is a safe place to learn and to make friends and to make valuable connections,” McCarthy said.
“[Y club] was the first place I really felt safe and welcomed by a family on campus… now I realize that working for the Y is what I really want to do in my life,” said Boyns.
Even if you don’t want to be involved with the Y after college, this club is a great opportunity to get involved with volunteering, learn about important factors in life, and simply make lifelong friends while doing activities you love.
Photo: Kyla Boyns