CEO Blog | YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka - Part 4

Nothing for us without us

February 5th, 2014 by wptest

YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka CEO Rob Armstrong and Barrie Chief of Police Kimberley Greenwood sit down to talk about youth in our communities.

Focused on the three E’s — engagement, education and enforcement, this conversation focuses on overcoming the challenges of this generation’s youth. The Barrie Police Services have very specific programs with a focus on cyberbullying and anti-bullying programs. The way bullying occurs is different than generations past, and the impact of these circumstances stay with youth forever. Individual agencies have been doing great work, but now is the time to come together to ensure joint resources and programs are available to youth when they need it the most.

A conversation about youth in our communities

January 15th, 2014 by wptest

In the first of a series of conversations, YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka CEO Rob Armstrong and Barrie Chief of Police Kimberley Greenwood sit down to talk about the importance of youth in our communities.

Both the YMCA and Barrie Police Services believe that through engagement and youth-focused programs, youth will thrive as they develop into our future leaders. Within our communities, the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka offers leadership development programs; Barrie Police Services has a focus on anti-bullying and anti-violence programs for children and youth.

MyY Innisfil and Recreational Complex has proven to be a great opportunity for us to showcase what can be done when a municipality and MyY share a common vision on how to best serve the community. In five years, this “Centre of Community” has grown and prospered beyond our expectations.

The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka has over 6400 health and fitness members of MyY Innisfil, making it the largest MyY health and recreation facility in our regions of Simcoe and Muskoka.

MyY Innisfil
  • Over 1400 of our members at MyY Innisfil receive some form of financial assistance to ensure children, youth and families in our community have the opportunity to swim, learn and play at MyY, regardless of economic circumstances.
  • Over 2100 children participate each week in our swimming programs. Last year, we started rolling registration, to make it easy for families to access swim lessons in Innisfil on the same day and time throughout the year, so it is most convenient for them.
  • We have 135 people who volunteer with us at MyY Innisfil. Our volunteers display an eagerness to help, offering their skills in whatever capacity needed; ensuring the MyY experience a memorable one for all. We are grateful to have such an active, committed group who willingly go beyond what’s expected to enhance our environment.
  • We employ 93 full-time and part-time staff at MyY Innisfil. A vital part of the MyY experience, this achievement wouldn’t be possible without the commitment of the MyY Innisfil team, headed up by Erin Beresford. Thank you all for your commitment to the success of this facility and our association.

The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka works to promote strength in communities, opens doors to families and seniors, and inspires youth to reach their full potential. The first five years of the MyY Innisfil has accomplished all these aspirations and we look forward to continuing our powerful partnership with the town.

MyY For Good, Celebrating Success

November 1st, 2013 by wptest

On October 29, the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka celebrated the success of the first year of its strategic plan, MyY For Good, and celebrated youth in our communities at the Annual General Meeting.

The Annual General Meeting is an opportunity to conduct the business required by our organization’s by-laws, but also an opportunity for celebration. We celebrate for many reasons; for the successes and learning’s of the past year, for the contributions of our (volunteer) board members, and celebrating the selfless commitment of staff and volunteers. It is a celebration of the spirit that connects us all to a larger communal sense of belonging and purpose.

MyY welcomes and fosters a sense of belonging for all

The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka provides a place for families to have fun together, while getting healthy in body, mind and spirit. Connections are made and nurtured, through volunteering or participating in one of our many programs. When you are in any one of our buildings – child care, health and fitness centres, employment services, you can feel the connections between generations, social groups, or individuals, regardless of economic status. These relationships and sense of connectivity are because of the community the Y creates.

MyY builds healthy communities

As we continue to work towards the goals of our strategic plan, take a moment to reflect on our accomplishments and what we have achieved.

During the 2012/2013 fiscal year:

  • The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka provided assistance of over $1.3 million to families in our communities to access our programs and services.
  • 122 students earned secondary school credits through our programs
  • Over 54,000 volunteer hours were recorded throughout our Association!

MyY keeps it’s promise and does what it believes is right

The YMCA has been quietly changing peoples’ lives for the better for so long, that sometimes it feels like our impact goes unrecognized. As an organization, we have the diversity of talent, drive, and knowledge to continue to make those positive changes happen. Let’s share our stories of success and encourage others to participate through philanthropy and volunteerism.

The following was written by Jessica Rawn, Manager, Philanthropy & Association Advancement.

I’ve been wondering how I would handle it. If my situation suddenly changed.  If my pay cheque didn’t arrive. If my car stopped rolling. If my payments piled up.  If my spouse got sick and couldn’t work. Or my child was spinning out of control. Hopeless? Overwhelmed? Would I feel alone?

Celebrating Success!

SkidsCThis year, I take pride in the fact that my community said “We want to help” and donated over $419,000 to the Annual YMCA Strong Kids Campaign, so that no one needs to feel hopeless, alone or overwhelmed if faced with a struggle. Instead, my community chose to support the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka, who is committed to enabling all people to grow and reach their full potential.

The goal of this year’s Annual Strong Kids Campaign was ambitious – we wanted to raise enough to help thousands living in Simcoe County and regions of Muskoka and Parry Sound. How could that possibly be done? First, Y Staff and board members led the way and gave generously, over $50,000 of their own money. Then I saw 280 volunteers come together when they learned what we were was doing. They made their own donations, asked their friends, family and colleagues to donate too. As I close off our fiscal year I see that over 4,100 of our neighbours, friends and fellow community members gave!

Volunteer Contributions

Marty who shared his story and volunteered with the Campaign said this to me:

I was overwhelmed by the willingness and generosity of my friends when I asked them to contribute to the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign. I’m proud of all of them and those who share with others.

The Impact of your Donations

Marilyn shares the impact volunteers and donations have had on her family:

Thank you to the hundreds of people that believe in the Strong Kids Campaign. Together we are strengthening our community.

Kicking off Healthy Kids Day!

May 29th, 2013 by wptest

YMCA Healthy Kids Day kicks off Healthy Me Week on Sunday, June 2, 2013. This event invites all members of the community, free of charge, to each of our centres, celebrating and promoting the healthy growth and development of children and families. Our goal is to build healthy communities by enabling physical activity and encouraging children and families to be more active together.

ceo healthy kids dayAcross Canada, most children do not meet the recommended levels of daily physical activity. Almost 1 in 3 Canadian children are overweight or obese and many are not getting enough exercise to ensure prolonged good health. Only 5% of five to 17 year olds meet the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines (i.e. over 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intense physical activity daily). The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka offers a variety of opportunities to involve children in some form of play each day and help to build healthy relationships.

My Y is focused on supporting our communities in improving overall health, especially with our youth. Events like Healthy Kids Day are designed to support parents and other family members in learning, promoting and modeling these healthy habits within our communities. The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka welcomes everyone to join us at one of our 8 health and  fitness centres for a yoga class, register your children in one of our before and after school programs, or participate in one of our many community events spread across Simcoe County and Muskoka.

Please join us on Sunday, June 2, 2013 for a day of family fun. You’ll find a full list of activities throughout the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka here: Healthy Kids Day.

YMCA Board of Directors

The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka is a charitable organization “…dedicated to the growth of all persons in spirit, mind and body, and to their sense of belonging to each other and the global community.” Supporting our values of caring, honesty, inclusiveness, respect and responsibility, we are looking for committed volunteers who are wishing to serve on our Board of Directors or as Committee Members.

The YMCA is a charitable organization governed by a Board of Directors consisting of 16 individuals who represent Simcoe, districts of Parry Sound and Muskoka. With 1,000 full and part-time staff and 750 community volunteers, the YMCA annually engages over 100,000 children, youth, adults and families through a variety of programs and services.

As a volunteer board, the directors determine the vision and strategy for the organization, set policy as well as provide guidance and direction for the association’s CEO. Members of the Board of Directors are expected to share the values of the YMCA, be willing to work in a team environment, attend monthly board meetings, play an active role on a board committee and support our annual giving campaign.

Successful candidates for our Board of Directors will be presented to the membership at the association’s Annual General Meeting in November. Directors will serve a three year term. Interested candidates should submit a letter/resume outline your interest no later than May 31, 2013.

Committee members’ roles and responsibilities include in depth reviews in major areas of discussion and making appropriate recommendations to the board for approval. The board operates through 4 main committees: Governance, Finance and Audit, Philanthropy, and Global Initiatives. Applications for committee members are accepted on an ongoing basis.

Interested candidates can submit their interest to:

YMCA Nominating Committee,

Administration Office

22 Grove St. West

Barrie, ON L4N 1M7



Rob Armstrong’s My Y Story

April 15th, 2013 by wptest

YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka CEO, Rob Armstrong

Our Strategic Plan, My Y for Good, is dependent on its three strategic directions as pillars for success. My Y Opens Doors, My Y Inspires Youth, and My Y is Strong are the foundation for excellence within the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka over the next five years.

The impact My Y has had on my life can be shared with my story:

As a YMCA staff person for almost 33 years you can imagine that the YMCA is something I am very passionate about. Many people think I must have grown up in the YMCA. However, I did not really get exposed to the YMCA until I was hired for a part-time job in the late 70′s. From that point on, I began to realize that the YMCA is not just a job but a way of life that I believe in and am very passionate about. No other organization has the ability to bring such a diverse array of people together under one roof. Whether you are young or old, rich or poor, the YMCA welcomes you. It provides a sense of community and place that I think we all need. To me this is very powerful and makes the YMCA, MyY every day.

Many people have shared their YMCA stories at They are all unique and born from different experiences. However, all of the stories involve someone opening a door, inspiring them or helping make our YMCA a stronger more relevant organization.

I welcome you to share your story by visiting You can also find a Y story that inspires you and share it with family and friends.

Our employment opportunities are open for anyone to apply and we do not discriminate in any way during the recruitment or selection process.  We hire the applicants who are the best qualified for the role. In general, applicants must be legally entitled to work in Canada for any employer – i.e. Canadian Citizens or Landed Immigrants with work authorization. It is only in extreme situations when we will recruit outside of Canada, and that is only when we can’t find a suitable applicant within Canada.

A Message from our CEO, Rob Armstrong

April 8th, 2013 by wptest

YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka CEO, Rob ArmstrongSince unveiling the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka Strategic Plan last year, we have been hard at work laying the foundation for the next few years. Most importantly, we have been working towards achieving all of our promises.

YMCA’s dedication to the youth of Simcoe County and Muskoka

Youth are a very important piece to the puzzle in the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka. It is our goal to enable youth to have promising futures by opening our doors and providing access to youth programs and resources within the YMCA. By creating new initiatives and programs that allow their personal growth, we are influencing success individually and within the local school boards.

Keeping the spirit of Camp Kitchi alive

YMCA Camp Kitchikewana, located on Beausoleil Island, has been a gem in the area for over 90 years. It has been a place to create memories and grow in mind, body and spirit. Camp “Kitchi” will continue to provide all the great activities and skills that campers look forward to and for the second year in a row will be giving our leadership youth a chance to participant in yet another unique opportunity. Over 120 youth will earn a provincially-recognized high school credit through their leadership experience at YMCA Camp Kitchikewana. This program is delivered by YMCA staff in partnership with Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board teachers, and through this partnership youth will earn Grade 11 Healthy Living and Peer Leadership credits. These participants will earn an advanced waterfront certification or First Aid/CPR certificate.

Geneva Park partners with SCDSB & District of Muskoka

New this year, through a similar partnership with the Simcoe County District School Board and District of Muskoka, another 40 youth will have a similar opportunity at YMCA Geneva Park. If you have never joined us at Geneva Park, it’s a must see in the area. It’s located on over 150 acres and touts three kilometres of shoreline on Lake Couchiching just outside of Orillia.

Helping youth acquire high school credits in Simcoe and Muskoka

Our newest initiative in this area began this winter and allows youth to acquire a high school credit while working on their advanced aquatic certification. Fifteen youth have the opportunity to become a leader around the water by taking one of the many Lifesaving Society offerings at the Midland YMCA. This program not only allows students to earn credits towards graduation, but also to continue to be part of our YMCA family as a swim instructor and lifeguard.

YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka Youth Leadership Program

Over the next year we anticipate that over 200 youth will acquire high school credits through these initiatives, which are recognized throughout the Province of Ontario. It is our goal to inspire youth with a sense of belonging now and in the future as they grow into active and engaged members of our communities.  We are so pleased to be able to provide these programs through partnership with our local school boards. Working together provides us all with more opportunity to grow and prosper.

Want to know more about our youth initiatives? Leave a comment below and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.