Andrea Rosenbaum, Guest columnist Published 10:49 a.m. CT June 2, 2020 PNJ| Updated 10:50 a.m. CT June 2, 2020
Ever had your car break down unexpectedly and leave you stranded? Ever wonder if your truck would start when you turned the key? Ever had to choose between replacing an old van and paying your rent, mortgage, or a doctor’s bill?
I’ve been there. I’ll bet that many of you have been there, too.
Now, what if I asked you to remember that anxiety, but this time, put your child or grandchild in the back seat. Now put a dozen or more kids in the back seat – other people’s kids – others who have trusted you with their children.
That’s what the staff of the YMCA of Northwest Florida faced every day, as we relied on 20-year-old buses to transport children to and from our afterschool and summer camp programs.
All that changed last fall, when the ladies of IMPACT 100 awarded the YMCA one of their transformative grants. We bought four new vans – vans that we can count on. With the new vans, we cleared our waiting list of families who needed a safe place for their children. Our staff exhaled, knowing they could stop worrying and focus on delivering a quality, out-of-school experience. The kids were pretty excited too. We overheard one boy say he’s “riding in style” with the Y.
That’s a far cry from a year ago, when we crossed our fingers every day that we turned the key in the ignition, hoping those old jalopies would start one more time so we could transport kids back to the Y.
These vans are so much more than just vehicles. They represent safety and opportunity, a chance for working parents to focus on their jobs while the Y makes sure their children get to a program site where they can learn, play, and be cared for.
While these vans created meaningful change for our youth programs, we experienced the “impact of IMPACT” amid the threat of COVID-19. When the ladies of IMPACT selected the YMCA to receive this grant, little could we have imagined that these same vans would become a vital asset to enable us to serve another vulnerable population: seniors. Earlier this spring, Y staff began using the vans to deliver meals to homebound seniors in partnership with the Council on Aging. Every day, our team makes meal delivery runs, bringing food and hope to COA clients. One Y staff member said he realized what a big deal it is to bring someone a meal and see them smile, knowing someone cares.
IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area is proud to be the largest IMPACT 100, not just in the country, but in the entire world. Some might find it surprising that a small city like ours could boast of this fact. I’ve called Pensacola home since 1994, and I’m not the least surprised. We live in a community that overflows with generosity and a spirit of giving. Why shouldn’t we have the biggest, and best, IMPACT 100?
And so for the 17th year, our local ladies of IMPACT 100 will do it again. They will thoroughly and thoughtfully consider requests from local nonprofits, awarding 11 grants that will, overnight, change 11 organizations that serve you and your neighbors. At the end of this grant cycle, these women will have donated more than $12 million right here in Northwest Florida.
That track record is something we can celebrate always, and even more in times of uncertainty. Thank you, IMPACT 100!
Andrea Rosenbaum is the director of advancement for the YMCA of Northwest Florida, where she has been part of the staff leadership team for 20 years.