The leadership of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Liberia recently retired four people, the entity referred to as ‘long serving employees’ who have served in their respective positions for well over 10-20 years.
YMCA also honored five American visiting guests representing the US-YMCA.
The ceremony, accordingly reflected YMCA-Liberia’s commitment to uniting and empowering young people through self-development and service to their respective communities as an extension of “the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
The retirees are Mrs. Vida Bracewell, finance manager, Mrs. Elizabeth Varney, former executive director of the Yekepa YMCA, Mr. Emmanuel S. King, Sr, former senior accountant and the late John Arku, who served the Liberia YMCA from executive director of the Yekepa YMCA to development secretary to administrator and consultant before he passed away in November, 2018.
Members of the International Group of US YMCAs, who entity honored include, Tom Valentine of the Chicago YMCA, Curt Hazelbaker of the Dallas YMCA and La Veda Howell of the Indianapolis YMCA, respectively.
Chairman of the National Board of the YMCA, Lester M. Paye, spoke of the program being so special to the extent that given the honor and recognition of the staff and US YMCA delegation was long overdue.
“We are here to recognize staffs, who have worked over the years, and also recognize our friends from the US-YMCA, who have helped in strengthening our YMCA over the years,” Paye said.
YMCA National General Secretary, E. Timotheus Kamaboakai, informed the gathering that when he took over, he invited stakeholders to drive the YMCA forward.
Kamaboakai said after a year of consultation and brainstorming, they arrived at to furhter empower the young people with skills and knowledge to be changed agents in their communities.
“Given the fact that the YMCA implements high profile programs with grants from respectable donors, who agreed to push the agenda forward as the YMCA is not a sustainable organization,” he said.
The YMCA, Kamaboakai said survives on grants as donor grants constitute nearly 90 percent of the institution’s budget.
Kamaboakai therefore, wants the YMCA to remain a sustainable organization with diverse income flow that will be resilient whether there is a donor fatigue; an epidemic or anything that affects the natural movement of the organization, so as to have resources at its disposal to implement what it wants to do.
On the goals for a sustainable YMCA, Kamaboakai said that the YMCA has identified three key legs to address the challenges of sustainability to include social enterprise, which looks at integrate, embedded and optional approaches.
One of the honorees, Elizabeth Varney, said she has passion and commitment to the YMCA, “and so during my years of service, my commitment remained to the young people.”
A member of the US delegation, Tom Valentine, said he sees the passion, query and excitement of the young people in Liberia, and the change the YMCA has created in them as laudable.
He noted that all of the good things in Liberia today with the young people are connected to the YMCA.
“We all want to build a team that will contribute to the success of young Liberians,” Valentine said. He thanked the YMCA for the appreciation conferred on members of the delegation.
The Swedish Ambassador to Liberia, Ingrid Wetterqvist, appreciated the YMCA for inviting her, but more importantly, empowering the young people with skills to develop the country.
The program was attended by the chairman and members of the National Board of the YMCA, the former National General Secretary, Peter Kamei, representatives from the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Mrs. and Mrs. Charles Ananaba, staffs of the YMCA as well as families and friends of the retirees.