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The Future Is In Good Hands

An integral part of Hawai‘i’s landscape for the past 150 years, YMCA of Honolulu remains committed to growing the island’s next generation of leaders.

It’s 150 years and counting for YMCA of Honolulu, one of the state’s largest nonprofit organizations. Since its inception in 1869, the Y has seen Hawai‘i’s landscape change from decade to decade, bringing with those ebbs and flows people, customs and lifestyles that have added to the island’s rich culture and heritage.

The organization has also survived two world wars and the Great Depression — all the while consistently providing activities for citizens of all ages to grow physically, mentally and emotionally.

With such an extensive history, the question remains: What doesn’t the Y do?

In short, there’s not much the nonprofit isn’t involved in. From its youth development programs to its healthy living and social responsibility activities, the organization has something for all ages, skill levels and interests.

The  rst YMCA of Honolulu building was dedicated in 1883 at Hotel and Alakea streets.

And there’s even more in the works, to hear president and CEO Michael Broderick tell it.

“As for our main programs that benefit the community, there are way too many to list,” he says.

There’s no doubt that Broderick has seen some phenomenal changes come to fruition since taking over the helm nearly a decade ago. So far, the local Y — of which he wholeheartedly applauds its cohesive team of 1,400 dedicated staff and even more volunteers — have developed state-of-the-art chronic disease programs, introduced character development elements into all youth programs, and started a number of initiatives for middle school, high school and college students that put a big focus on servant leadership.

Right) The 1915 Central Y relay team with Duke Kahanamoku (at front center). PHOTOS COURTESY YMCA OF HONOLULU

He lists out the myriad offerings it provides the community, including those for drug treatment services, pre-diabetes, kindergarten prep for underserved youth, group exercise classes, swimming lessons, A+ programs (for nearly 60 schools island-wide, in fact) and so much more.

“I don’t think that there is another organization in the state that offers that wide range of services,” Broderick continues. “We are very proud of that, and our programs and services cover six-month-olds to folks in their 100s.”

That intergenerational element indeed makes the Y unique, as does its focus on whole-person and whole-family care. Bolstering that area of the nonprofit is the Y’s chronic disease prevention and management programs, which include its YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program (now covered by Medicare and Medicare Advantage insurers), Healthy Weight and Your Child (a partnership with Hawai‘i Pacific Health), EnhanceFitness (for arthritis management) and more.

Joie Agoo, Mary Janell Murro, Bryan Murphy, Sakura Harris, Montana Frias, Temaeva Bush, YMCA of Honolulu president and CEO Michael Broderick, Orohena Bush, Kirk Corenevsky, Joshua Tolbe, Ayden Kaahanui, Natalie Gamboa, Krysta Reese, Cassidy Inamasu and Sean Aoki pause at a recent workday at Windward Y’s lo‘i,

But it’s the focus on youth that has Broderick particularly excited. Before joining the Y, he served the island as a family court judge.

“After thousands of cases, I came to believe that I couldn’t help many of the people who appeared before me. Sadly, it was too late,” he recalls. “I wanted to spend the last part of my career on the front end, preventing youth and families from ending up in family court. I knew the Y had so many great prevention programs, so when the CEO job opened up, I tossed my hat into the ring.”

He hasn’t looked back since.

In fact, there’s so much forward movement going on within the nonprofit’s youth programs, that it’s keeping Broderick pretty busy these days. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Atherton Y college students, as part of YMCA of Honolulu’s alternative spring break program, traveled to the Philippines for a hands-on service project. PHOTO COURTESY YMCA OF HONOLULU

That focus on young ones, he adds, is the most important aspect of all, and has been part of YMCA of Honolulu’s history since the very beginning.

Since 1889, the Y has been helping underserved youth in isolated rural areas and plantations. Now, it boasts programs like the YMCA Power Scholars Academy to help boost academic achievement. According to Broderick, for the past four summers, youth have achieved a two to three month gain in math and literacy to the point where it equals or passes the national average.

“And 98 percent of students demonstrate gains in social-emotional learning,” he adds.

In 1963, the Y kicked off an at-risk teen program to help address gangs, truancy and alcohol use in the Kalihi area. Now, it’s known as the YMCA School-based Substance Abuse Treatment Program (based out of the Kalihi Y), which now is in 12 middle schools and 12 high schools — including one on Lāna‘i.

But the Y isn’t only about helping young ones who need it. It’s also about equipping kids to help others. To that end, local Y students in college and high school, for example, consistently host service projects around the island — like a group of Mililani teens who recently helped out at a houseless encampment in Wahiawā — while other groups extend their reach as far as to the Philippines.

Ryan Ueunten of Hika’alani tends to the taro.

“Our community’s future is our youth,” Broderick adds.

That very idea was what started the international organization 175 years ago in London. So powerful was that message that Honolulu — led by Peter Cushman Jones, Sanford Dole and Thomas Rain Walker — adopted the program 25 years later to help support positive character development and opportunities to thrive in the island’s up-and-coming generation.

“A main focus of the Y has always been about developing youth into servant leaders to ensure better futures for themselves and for our communities,” Broderick says. “Young people are leading and making a difference right now.”

It’s something he witnessed firsthand earlier this year when he attended the 175th international conference in London, where a handful of local youth joined more than 3,000 of their peers from YMCAs around the world to collaboratively talk future plans in the hopes of addressing some of society’s most pressing issues.

“I saw our future,” Broderick says.

And that future is looking bright, especially here at home.

PICTURE PERFECT

YMCA of Honolulu is celebrating its 150th year with a special 20-panel historical display featuring the nonpro~ t’s work within the community.

Each 7-by-3-foot sheet will be on display at the Y’s six branches (KaimukĀ°-Wai‘alae, Kalihi, Leeward, Mililani, Nu‘uanu and Windward), and an interactive copy can be found online at ymcahonolulu.org.

“We felt like we barely scratched the surface of our history, impact and stories,” shares president and CEO Michael Broderick. “We will continue to build on that history for the 200th, when we expect a 50-panel historical exhibit!”

THANKS FOR SHARING

YMCA of Honolulu positively impacts more than 100,000 people every year, and the organization would like to hear stories from the community. The public is invited to share photos and stories about their experiences with the Y and how the nonprofit made a difference in their lives by submitting items online at ymcahonolulu.org.

“I am inspired by the people who almost every day tell me how the Y changed, and in some cases saved, their life,” says president and CEO Michael Broderick.

In addition, those who share will be entered for a chance to win a 150th Y commemorative bag.

PARTY FOR A PURPOSE

YMCA of Honolulu is a well-oiled machine, thanks to its community supporters from across the island. That backing is evident in the nonprofit’s upcoming 150th anniversary Ho‘olaule‘a Dinner, slated for Nov. 9 at Ko‘olau Ballrooms.

The event has been sold out for months, but the public can still help out, as all proceeds benefit the organization’s youth and teen programs. Cash and silent auction donations are still being accepted, and those interested in helping can contact Grace Woodruff-Diaz at 541-5466 or gwoodruff-diaz@ymcahonolulu.org.