Part of HYPE’s mission is to help young professionals become better engaged in community life, expand professional and social opportunities, and become ambassadors for the Hartford Region. HYPE encourages cross-collaboration among agencies and organizations that offer opportunities to volunteer in the community. The Community Conversations series focuses on interviewing professionals in a local nonprofit to bring awareness to their mission, highlight their impact in the community, and to provide information on how to get more involved with the organization. For the November edition, HYPE Executive Director Kim Bishop interviewed Harold Sparrow of the YMCA of Greater Hartford, the benefiting organization of Tons of Toys
What is the mission of your organization?
The YMCA of Greater Hartford is a charitable association open to all and committed to helping people develop their fullest potential in spirit, mind and body. This commitment is reinforced by their belief in living out universal values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. They always aim to engage our members, ignite their passions, and help them achieve their personal goals.
What is your role within the organization?
Harold Sparrow is the president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Hartford, a nonprofit organization that promotes youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Each day we serve more than 3,500 members across our association. In addition to the 3,500 members who use their full facility branches each day, they serve many more through their other programs and services. During the school year, the YMCA of Greater Hartford’s infant/toddler, preschool, and school age before and after school care together serve nearly 1,500 children. Each summer they serve more than 8,000 children at their 14 summer camps, including our two resident camps. And programs like the BELL Power Scholars Academy help prevent summer learning loss, a major educational obstacle in many low-income communities; in fact, this past summer the hundreds of young participants in their program actually gained two months of literacy skills and two months of math skills.
In his role, Harold ensures that the YMCA fulfills its mission to provide a safe and supportive environment for people of all ages and from all backgrounds, which helps individuals to grow and reach their personal goals. Harold also works to connect the YMCA to the Greater Hartford to the surrounding community through partnerships with private companies, public services and other nonprofits. That connection to the larger community allows the organization to connect with those individuals who will most benefit from the programs and services that the YMCA has to offer.
How do you implement your services or programs?
The YMCA of Greater Hartford offers dozens of programs and services in 52 communities throughout the area. The YMCA runs programs in different geographic areas based on the individual community’s needs, which are identified by staff at the locations who are truly embedded and part of the communities that they serve.
Their offerings cover a wide range of needs and populations: swim lessons, literacy programs, their LiveSTRONG at the Y cancer survivor program, personal training and group exercise classes, child care for children ages 6 weeks through high school, senior water aerobics, summer camp, adaptive sports and much, much more.
In what ways has your organization been impactful to your cause?
The moment you enter any of their six full facility branches, four program branches or three dedicated summer camps, you can see the impact that the YMCA has. From teens participating in literacy and academic clubs to children participating in sports teams and adults utilizing the Wellness Centers, they facilitate all different types of growth and support for our members. Specialty programs like Shoot Hoops, Not Guns and Footlights Performing Arts Program help keep children in safe, constructive environments after school, while their Diabetes Prevention Program, adaptive wellness and sports program, and LiveSTRONG cancer survivor program help special populations participate in the Y community.
How does someone get more involved?
There are many ways to get involved with the YMCA of Greater Hartford. They always encourage those in the community to become members; they offer membership rates for children, young adults, single adults, couples, single-parent households, two-parent households, seniors and more. They also offer financial assistance to those in need, because they feel that everyone should have the opportunity to achieve their goals. To learn more about membership, please visit their Welcome Centers or visit them online .
They also offer volunteer and employment opportunities. They are always looking for sports coaches, child care teachers, mentors, additions to their branch and association boards of directors, and much more. To learn more, please visit our Welcome Centers, or visit us online to volunteer or for employment.
You can also support the YMCA of Greater Hartford by attending Tons of Toys on Wednesday, December 6th! All toys donated will benefit the youth and families served by the YMCA of Greater Hartford. Check out the FAQ blog for more details!