Greg Coop is being honored as a White House Champion of Change for his leadership and commitment to the ideals of the YMCA.
In our community, agriculture is king. We are the most diverse agricultural community east of the Mississippi and have seen an influx of migrant workers to support the industry. The Moultrie YMCA recognized the growing achievement gap among the children of these immigrant families, and together with YMCA of the USA and the Goizueta Foundation, began to address the need.
The most unique program that has come out of this partnership is the Early Learning Readiness (ELR) program. ELR is an outreach program designed to teach Hispanic caregivers ways to develop the verbal, physical, and social skills the children in their care will need to be school-ready. Many of the caregivers that are enrolled in our ELR program are not proficient in English and have limited education and resources for hands-on learning. We provide them with techniques to help prepare their children for pre-kindergarten. An unexpected benefit is that many of the caregivers, because they left school at an early age to care for brothers and sisters, are learning side-by-side with the children in their care.
We recruit most participants through word of mouth advertising. The informal networking of many of our immigrant families has been a tremendous opportunity for us to reach new kids and families. Our program has grown so quickly over the last few months that we have had to locate new space to accommodate the demand.
Our YMCA membership has grown more diverse as these families are focusing on their well-being and turning to the YMCA for exercise and family programs. This strengthens not only the individual families, but our community as a whole. We are proud that our Y is known as one the most diverse organization in the community.
This recognition is really a reflection of the work of such a dedicated YMCA staff. While I am humbled to be recognized for this effort, I know that the real work is completed every day by a staff team as good as any in the country. We will continue to further the mission of the YMCA “to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.”
Greg Coop is the CEO of Moultrie YMCA