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Community Solutions for Collective Impact: Why Partnerships Benefit the Whole Community

By Jill Tettmann, President and CEO, YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka

Over the past few years, we have all learned first-hand how important it is to connect with and continue to support one another.

Fast forward to a post-pandemic world, the need for connections and togetherness is actually more urgent now than ever before – so many of our friends, family members, and neighbours are feeling isolated and alone. Many are facing unique and complex challenges. It is important that we continue to bridge gaps and create new avenues for understanding and discovery with those around us to create and uphold a healthy, connected, and vibrant community.

At the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka, we value connection and work every day to help create a community where everyone feels a sense of belonging. We strive to meet community members where they are, working to build their quality of life through everything from child care and youth mental wellness programs, to employment services and settlement into a new home country.

But building strong, healthy and inclusive communities is not just the domain of the YMCA. We know that there are many like-minded organizations in our community that share our vision of vibrant and connected communities where everyone belongs, and are ready to come together to make this a reality for more community members.

The power of a community working together cannot be understated.

That’s a message that national organizations like Community Foundations Canada have been sharing for years, even pre-pandemic, reminding us that community-agency-based partnerships help ensure more innovative community programming, greater service coordination and effectiveness, new opportunities for leadership development and increased capacity to serve those who are marginalized in our communities.[1]

The YMCA has been bringing people together for nearly 170 years to learn and grow, to feel healthy and strong, to make friends, and to strengthen communities. In that same way, we believe that when we team up with other community organizations, we can be stronger together for those who rely on us. We have witnessed these benefits to our communities first-hand.

  • One partnership we have seen great success with was the Creating Connections series with the Barrie Public Library and the Barrie Police Services. Through this partnership, we worked together to better support newcomers within our community, by showcasing to our settlement services participants the many different services the library and police services can offer them. By giving newcomers the opportunity to connect and learn about these services, we help promote greater understanding and a sense of connection and inclusion with important community institutions.
  • To support youth, we have partnered with Catholic Family Services of Simcoe County to launch Y Mind, a mental wellness program. This program is free for young people in our communities who may be experiencing mild to moderate anxiety. This group setting allows community members to connect with one another and share their experiences with people who may be going through similar situations. This year, we also partnered with the Sandbox Centre in downtown Barrie to run our first in-person Y Mind programs in a convenient, accessible location for youth.
  • Our new collaboration with Georgian College, in partnership with Georgian’s new Social Innovation department, and will run workshops in the community that focus on elevating community engagement, supporting sustainable community innovation, and looking at how community services need to evolve to enable increased well-being and belonging in the future.
  • In partnership with the County of Simcoe, we went back to our roots to support the rehousing of 61 Ukrainian newcomers and their families, finding them permanent, affordable housing to start their new lives in Canada. Our community came together to find suitable housing, donate furniture, and volunteer their time to help with the moving process, ensuring the newcomers were able to build a strong foundation for a brighter future in their new homes across Simcoe County.

When we partner with one another, we are not only able to pool resources, but we are also able to learn from each other. It allows us to provide the members of our community with multiple services at once, and shows the value of each of these services.

In 2024, as in our nearly two-century history, we’re determined to build even more health, strength, and resilience in all of our 80 locations and hundreds of programs and services across the region. To do that, we’re putting a priority on growing community partnerships, and we’re looking for like-minded organizations to partner with us.

Because we cannot do it alone.

To continue to build a stronger and healthier community for generations to come, we want to move forward, together. To learn more about partnering with the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka, please visit


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