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Treasure Valley Family YMCA CEO: 'We're More The Same Than We Are Different'

Treasure Valley Family YMCA

There are four large banners just inside the entrance of the Treasure Valley Family YMCA; they read: "Caring," "Honesty," "Respect" and "Responsibility." In the wake of one challenge after another, President and CEO David Duro says the time has never been greater for the Y to be a part of the solution — particularly when it comes to nurturing individuals and families through ... well, caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.

Duro visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about these historic times, the unique challenge of rethinking the summer camp experience during a health crisis, and being a champion of kindness during a time of social unrest.

“Things have to change; and the Y is not perfect for sure, but we hope we're helping to lead the way and making sure our doors are wide open to everyone.”

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It's Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning. I'm George Prentice. Well, it's easy to forget that when the pandemic began to cast its long wide shadow, we were still in the throes of winter and so much has changed. Activities, services, everything, and that brings us to summer. And one of the region's highest profile nonprofits, a service provider, most certainly a destination, and that's the Treasure Valley Family YMCA, which has reopened some of its services and is now looking at summer camp. So there's plenty to talk about with Dave Duro, President and CEO of the Treasure Valley Family. Why, Dave, good morning.

DAVE DURO: Good morning, George. Glad to be with you this morning.

PRENTICE: Well, Dave, how much of a gut punch has this pandemic been to the Y?

DURO: Well, like many others, it's something like we've never encountered before. And especially when I feel like, at times like these, the services that the YMCA provides are needed now more than ever. And the pandemic and what it's brought with it has made delivery of those services just so much more difficult. But in a way, it's challenged our creativity and our ability to reach out and connect with people. And so if there is a silver lining, I think we've learned some great lessons through the pandemic.

PRENTICE: You've got a pretty big fundraising campaign going on. How's that going?

DURO: We do. Man, and it's critical to us. It's a $1.265 million campaign. We run a campaign every year to help offset the cost of scholarships. And the response has been just great, George. So we are within $100,000 of that meeting that goal.

PRENTICE: How did that happen?

DURO: Well, it happened with a lot of great volunteers who are willing to tell the YMCA story and the impact of YMCA programs. And then just thousands of great donors, just making sure that the Y continues its 129 year legacy of service, and that we make sure that we can meet the pledge that no person is ever turned away due to inability to pay.

PRENTICE: I want to talk about summer camp in a moment. Well, the Treasure Valley Y has, for as long as I can remember, embraced diversity and acceptance, no matter someone's background or economic status. To that end, what's your message this morning to all families and in particular, young women and young men of color?

Credit Treasure Valley Family YMCA
David Duro

DURO: Wow. Yeah. I mean, what a painful time this is for all of us. We're just so saddened by this double punch of the pandemic, and then just the obvious examples of what 300 years of racism and prejudicial outlook from people has caused and brought us to. Things have to change; and the Y is not perfect for sure, but we hope we're helping to lead the way and making sure our doors are wide open to everyone. No certain groups are more privileged or more welcomed than any other group. And we think the beauty of that is when we get people together and they can spend time together with shared goals in an environment that espouses the values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility.

What happens is people develop relationship and they value one another more, even if they're from different walks of life, different backgrounds, different races, different political affiliations. We know that when people come together, they find out that we're more the same than we are different and that every person has value. And that's really what we try to live by at the Y and what we try to provide the environment for. And change is slow, but I hope we can be a part of it and help to lead it.

PRENTICE: Let's talk about summer camp. I'm stunned that it's even possible, but you're opening one of the region's most high profile summer camps, Horsethief Reservoir. I can't imagine how many new protocols you must have.

DURO: Boy, that's the truth. George, to that end, the buzzword is social distancing. We try not to use that at the Y. We use physical distancing because we know that social connection and interaction is so important. And so at camp, that physical distancing is huge. And one of the ways that we've had to adjust is overall, there's less participants, there are smaller groups, and there is less rotation among groups. So when you're with your two counselors in a group of eight children, you're going to be with those same two counselors through all the rotations of camp. Waterfront, climbing wall, zip line, arts and crafts, all those kinds of things. And so really one of the changes is we're going to have that great social interaction and relationship building, but it's going to be more on a small group basis than in the large group environments that are really so important to camp. But right now, that's just not the way that we need to run camp.

PRENTICE: What's registration look like? How are people responding?

DURO: People are responding really well. Not everybody's ready. We found that in our facilities and our childcare programs too, not everyone's ready to return, and that's fine. I mean, people need to take this change at their own pace, for sure. But we had planned on serving about 1,500 children this summer. And I think we'll end up at about 1,000. Now, part of that is people weren't ready yet, despite the protocols. And some of it is we've just limited our spaces and even our weeks because we needed time. In fact, we should open a week earlier than we are typically, but we needed that extra week, as you said, to make sure that we've got the right protocols and make sure most importantly, that we can execute on those protocols.

PRENTICE: When will you start?

DURO: June 14th. Yeah. So it's coming right up. I'm up working with a group of staff and training. We have staff at Y camp at Horsethief Reservoir right now. But this year, it's even more important with the increased cleaning protocols, distancing protocols, screening protocols, temperature checks, all of those things that really, all of us, we never even imagined that we would be running that way.

PRENTICE: 1,000 kids. That is still a lot of kids that will circle in and out of camp.

DURO: It's really going to have an impact, right? And I think as we were talking earlier about what we're seeing across the country with the violence and the divisiveness, camp is one of the premier places where we can develop understanding and cultural competence, relationship and friendship, and that's going to carry with these kids forever. So on one hand, I'm saddened by the fact that we're not going to serve as many kids as we would like. That's 100 children, 100 families that are going to be touched in a positive way at a very critical time in these children's development and in the course of our nation.

PRENTICE: He is Dave Duro, President and CEO of the Treasure Valley Family Y. Dave, have a great weekend, have a swell summer. Best of luck.

DURO: Thank you so much, George. Thanks for you and NPR for bringing great news to people. We really appreciate you.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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