The events in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month were a harsh reminder of how far we have to go as a nation, and how hard we must work to find common ground in communities across America. I want to offer words of encouragement and remind us of the important work we do every day through our Ys.

There is no place in our YMCA, nor the world, for hatred, racism, bigotry or discrimination. Every day, we have the opportunity to fight against this evil and injustice with how we treat each other and those who come to our Ys in the spirit of belonging and acceptance. We have always stood on the side of bestowing dignity, value, respect and worth to all who choose our YMCA as a place to grow and thrive. Our stance does not change and remains stronger than ever.

At times like this, we remain true to our Mission and stand firm in what we believe. Every interaction matters. With colleagues, in our Welcome Centers, in our gyms, in our group wellness studios, on our wellness floors, in our pools, in our rides-out lines at youth programs and at every place within our Y – we get the opportunity to show the community who we are and what we stand for. D.L. Moody, a great YMCA leader, once said, “A lighthouse doesn’t need to fire off a cannon to announce what it is; it just shines.”

Every time we’ve opened our doors wider, we’ve gotten better as an organization. The Y will continue to open our doors wide to unify the community and establish common ground for all. For over 160 years, we have strengthened the communities we serve. Now more than ever, communities need our Ys.

I believe strongly in our Mission and Cause, and in the power of our collective efforts to make tomorrow better than today. Thank you for being who you are, for being a part of the Y Movement and for being a beacon of what is right and just. It is a privilege to serve with you.