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GUEST COLUMN: Join the YMCA in acceptance for all

By: Colorado YMCA CEOs
September 9, 2017 Updated: September 9, 2017 at 4:05 am
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Colorado YMCA CEOs

Guest opinion

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If you have turned on the TV over the past two weeks, you have seen the tragic stories of Hurricane Harvey, the lives lost and the lives in chaos. So many people have suffered so much. Their homes have been destroyed, their possessions have been ruined and their families struggle to attain basic needs.

Along with the tragic, we have also seen the heroic. Every day there have been displays of love, compassion and generosity for those in Houston: lines of volunteers, donors raising funds for emergency response nonprofits and people traveling from all over, including Colorado, to put boats in the water, to rescue animals and to bring goods to those most in need.

It is exactly what makes this country great. When the going gets tough, we come together. Together, we are stronger.

But, let's be honest, it's a far cry from other major happenings.

The events that took place in Charlottesville, Va., just weeks ago left this country and its residents shocked and scared. The hate, violence and racism on display that day were heartbreaking, and it left many of us feeling deeply wounded, isolated and hopeless.

For many, it was a chilling reminder that acceptance and tolerance are still not ubiquitous.

Looking at these two heartbreaking events, we realize we have work to do to ensure that more people are standing in line to donate blood than standing in line to spout hate.

At the Y, we resolve to make acceptance, equality and peace a part of everything we do.

We resolve to welcome people of all race, faith, sexual orientation and gender identity, every ability and disability, and every socioeconomic status. We resolve to be the common ground on which people with different ideas can connect, collaborate and compromise.

We promise to be a safe space, a sanctuary and a home for all.

YMCA stands for Young Men's Christian Association. Founded in 1844, the YMCA was an organization that gave refuge to wayward young men working in London.

Over the decades, we have changed. Today, "for all" are the last two words in our mission statement, and they weave themselves throughout our classrooms, sports fields and healthy living centers.

From Pueblo to Boulder, the Ys of Colorado are values-based organizations. Those values are so basic that we teach them to the small children in our youth programs: caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.

They are what we stand for, and they are the values we work to instill in our preschoolers, summer campers, young athletes and teens.

These are the values that will make this country stronger, more accepting and more compassionate.

We invite you to make our values your values, to choose generosity, to condemn hate and to come together around love and compassion.

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Boyd Williams is CEO/President of YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region, Chris Coker, CEO/President of YMCA of Boulder Valley, Jim Hiner, CEO/President of YMCA of Metropolitan Denver, Julie Watkins, CEO/President of YMCA of the Rockies and Janelle Lockwood, CEO/President of YMCA of Pueblo.

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