“If You Can Make a Difference You Have a Responsibility To Do So”
In 2004 I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to lead the New Canaan YMCA as it’s new CEO. In the spirit of the YMCA’s mission I set a goal of having an international partnership with a international organization that had a similar mission. I envisioned a very affluent community partnering with or adopting an organization that served a very impoverished community in another country.
Along came Crossing Thresholds who thought that vision could become a reality by suggesting we explore a partnership with a small branch of the Kenya YMCA that was in the heart of Kibera.
Through email, Skype, and phone a relationship was built with Simeon Ajigo, the then Executive Director of the Kibera YMCA. At the encouragement of Crossing Thresholds a trip to Kibera was planned and several months later off we went.
Like all who see Kibera for the first time, we were shocked by the level of poverty, the lack of hope, and the bleak living conditions that we saw. What was unimaginable was seeing children trying to survive in this environment. Thriving was not an option.
We came home, our lives changed forever, and I promised my commitment and our Y’s commitment to Simeon Ajigo and the Kibera YMCA.
As time passed Simeon kept his passion in helping the children of Kibera but now with a different organization that he founded called Facing The Future (FAFU). The New Canaan YMCA followed him.
For the rest of my tenure at the Y, we continued to support FAFU financially. We were making a difference. Another trip with Crossing Thresholds was executed and our commitment and support grew. Each trip reinforced our responsibility to make a difference.
I always felt that we could do more. But operating a large Y and serving many constituencies can allow you to do only so much. It was unsettling to me that I could not focus more on the youth trying to survive in Kibera.
My tenure recently came to an end at the New Canaan YMCA. Time to retire, I did my part with Kibera but felt not enough. Unfinished business.
As fate would have it, Crossing Thresholds reached out to me to see if I wanted to work with them where there was one mission; creating hope and giving opportunity for children in Kibera.
So from retirement to semi-retirement my passion to help the youth of Kibera stays alive.
After all: “ If you can make a difference you have the responsibility to do so!”
Chief Operating Officer