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Watertown Family Y a part of national pilot to develop social responsibility plan

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The Watertown Family YMCA’s focus on community engagement will help Ys throughout the country focus on their third pillar of foundation: social responsibility.

Because the Watertown branch already has some related practices in place, it was one of six in the nation selected to participate in a pilot program to develop a social responsibility outline for all Y organizations to follow.

“It’s the Y supporting the community ... which is truly what the Y should do,” said Rebecca L. Reed, the Watertown Y’s executive director of community engagement.

She said the Watertown Family Y, which includes the Downtown Y, Fairgrounds Y and Carthage Y, is ahead of the curve because the board of directors’s vision has enabled the agency to assimilate its members into a variety of community projects and activities. Participation in the Watertown Urban Mission’s Dollar Dinners program and the Building Blocks program, where community agencies and churches help remodel city homes, are perfect examples, Mrs. Reed said.

The 5,000-member Watertown Family YMCA has a social responsibility committee made up of board and community members. Ideas and activities here will be shared with the five other Ys through a few trips to Chicago. Until March, those agencies will meet to put together a model for any Y to use to incorporate social responsibility into its operations.

“We’ll take it out and test it, with the expectation we’ll roll it out in July at our national assembly,” Mrs. Reed said. “We’re committed to doing it well and right.”

At Ys throughout the country, she said, social responsibility is to inspire community members to become involved in building a better community through sharing of their time and talents. Volunteer recruitment then becomes important.

Mrs. Reed said all six participating Ys have different volunteer programs in place. The Watertown Family YMCA recently hired part-time Volunteer Director Kelly Richmond to help match both Y and community members with volunteer opportunities.

“That is critical to the success of this,” Mrs. Reed said.

“I think members will appreciate being a part of something that’s bigger than just themselves. It’s important to have everyone involved,” she said. “It’s a very exciting time for the Y. This brings us back to our roots as a volunteer organization.”

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