Opinion: Stress testing our values

We are writing on behalf of the Princeton Family YMCA to share our story and to assure you that we are doing all that we can to endure through this crisis.

At the YMCA, four core values – honesty, caring, respect and responsibility – are embedded in all that we do, but today they are being tested like never before. We can tell you with confidence that they are deeply ingrained in our Y’s culture and community and they will be the foundation by which we navigate this unimaginable challenge and successfully come out on the other side.

Honesty: Our Y is in a financially fragile place. We operate in a well-used building, long past its prime, with little in reserves to keep us going in a time like this. We depend almost entirely on revenues from our membership and program fees, with about 10–15% from charitable donations. With revenues disappearing in an instant, we had no choice but to temporarily lay off 130 hourly part-time and five full-time staff. It was a heartbreaking decision. These individuals are the life-blood of our organization and they maintain deep, meaningful and longstanding relationships with our members and the larger Princeton community. But we know that to survive, we must rely on what little savings we have to serve the community when we re-open our doors.

Caring: Our now much smaller staff will support Princeton in any way we can. Two staff members are dedicated exclusively to supporting our children and teens, and their families, who are part of the Princeton Young Achievers and ACE (Accept Compete Excel)programs. We know how especially vulnerable they are in these trying times. We will also do everything we can to make ourselves available to the town, school district and larger community as a resource.

Respect: Our Y is facing a big challenge, but nothing like what healthcare workers, physicians, emergency responders and local and state leaders are contending with. We are in awe of their dedication and commitment to saving lives, often at great risk to their own, and to helping find a way forward.

Responsibility: Now is that time to follow the direction of our medical experts and local leaders, and do our part to flatten the curve. Now is the time to put social responsibility into action and model good citizenship by sheltering in place and practicing social distancing.

Even though we are at physical distances, we are still deeply connected as neighbors, Y members and citizens. Now, more than ever, we need to come together and intentionally model these four core values in our actions and choices and also say why it matters.
There is no doubt that we are in a precarious moment. If you can help us during this time, please visit www.princetonymca.org.

Our plan is to be here, ready to serve when we are able to reopen.


Merilyn Rovira, chair
PJ Jayachandran, vice chair
Princeton YMCA