The goal of the YMCA since beginning in 1844 is to meet the needs of the community. Despite its affluence, many people of the Tri-Valley are struggling. With new leadership, the local program branch of the YMCA is revved up and ready to make a difference.
Kelly Dulka, executive director of the Tri-Valley YMCA, which serves Pleasanton, Dublin, Livermore and Sunol, was hired in August 2006 to help revamp the organization. With an all-new staff, they have been working hard to continue the current programming as well as develop new ones.
"My main goal is to build partnerships and relationships, as well as build strong kids, families and communities," she said. "We are looking where there may be gaps in services. In the last six months, we've seen a tremendous increase for services and financial assistance."
While most programs have fees attached, scholarships and financial assistance are available. Tim Stier, associate program director at the YMCA, said no kids are turned away.
Not only has Dulka built relationships with city leaders, she has also made partnerships with local businesses to build a new mentoring program, which will begin this year. Five corporate sponsors--ValleyCare Medical Center, Sybase, BBNT/Tanner Insurance, Colliers International and FunMobility--will provide funding and mentor volunteers to link adults with junior high school-aged kids. Axis Community Health and Be a Mentor of Hayward are also teaming up to help.
"We make an effort to get out into the community," Stier said. "We get to know people, gain trust and build relationships and find out more and more what the needs are."
The YMCA is not without needs itself, as it operates as a "program branch" because it doesn't have its own facility. By its 50th anniversary in 2015, they hope to have a formal home to call their own. For now, they must rent out other facilities, which is costly and venues are not always ideal or even available for the programming.
Another future program is a model United Nations program for junior high-aged kids, which is part of the national YMCA program.
Children are a primary focus of the YMCA and one of the priorities is addressing health and wellness. Last year the organization received a $10,000 grant from the Kellogg's Foundation and another grant from the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame to buy sports equipment for use in their non-competitive sports programs.
They also have a fun and fitness camp coming up this summer and Healthy Kids Day April 18.
"Kids can find out how fun it is to exercise and learn about nutrition," Dulka said. "We want to get kids up and moving."
Through building relationships in the community, they have discovered a need for helping teens dealing with stress and risky behaviors, dealing with issues such as alcohol and sexuality.
Perhaps the most popular program put on by the Tri-Valley Y is its child care program, followed closely by its summer day camp.
"We try to address the holistic needs of the child," Dulka said. "It's not just a child care setting, it's a chance for kids to grow and thrive."
"We have a very successful Y-Guides and Y-Princesses program," Stier said. "It bonds fathers to daughters and fathers to sons with monthly and bi-monthly events. It includes a pinewood derby, a father-daughter dance and camp outs."
One of their biggest events of the year, which also is their main fundraiser, is coming up Jan. 26 with the ninth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Fellowship Breakfast.
"It's an opportunity to bring together leaders from different communities in the Tri-Valley and to be inspired by the life and legacy of Dr. King," Dulka said, adding that Dr. King participated in local Y events as a child. "With the essay and art contests [by students we will be looking at it multi-generationally and embrace the message of a world and a community that is inclusive of all."
The winners of the contests will be announced at the breakfast, which goes from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Radisson Hotel in Dublin. Bernard Tyson of the Kaiser Foundation will serve as the keynote speaker.
Tickets are $40 and should be purchased by Jan. 19.
To learn more about Tri-Valley YMCA, call 475-6108 or visit their website.