I like being useful to others. It’s one of the reasons I became a financial advisor. And beyond my career, I am always seeking the opportunity to give back or serve others, especially in the Austin, Texas community that I love and call home.
Last year, one such opportunity to presented itself when I was invited to serve with the Metro Board of the YMCA, which provides direction for all the YMCAs in Central Texas. My initial thought was, “Do I want to serve on the board of a gym?” My free time was limited and I wanted to make sure I was giving back in the best way possible.
How the YMCA Helps Austin
I soon discovered that I had no idea how much the YMCA actually accomplishes. While I could fill page after page listing all that the YMCA does, instead I’ll highlight a few of their initiatives I think make them stand out as an incredible organization.
- They’re building a new full-service, 85-acre campground, Camp Cypress, which will provide families with everything they need, including the tent, food, activities, and fun. Camp Cypress will be an amazing place for Austin families to visit for turn-key camping in nature within just 15 minutes of Austin.
- Through Project S.A.F.E., they aim to provide all area pre-k and first graders with education on safety, aquatics, and fitness activity. This is designed to help prevent drowning incidents as well as combat obesity among children. Since its launch in 2009, more than 11,000 children have gone through the program, saving countless lives!
- They offer a 12-week LiveSTRONG program and cancer support network. Survivors participate in free or low-cost customized exercise regimens catered to their individual needs from certified fitness instructors. The instructors are all trained in cancer survivorship, post-rehabilitation exercise, and supportive cancer care.
- Among the numerous programs they offer for young children, they provide early learning readiness for at-risk toddlers, year-round meals and sports for underprivileged and special needs Austin kids, and more.
I was blown away by how much the YMCA is able to accomplish and how many Austin community members they serve. In the midst of all the YMCA accomplishes every day, I needed to find where I best fit as a volunteer.
Finding My Place at the YMCA
The YMCA’s area of greatest need was on the Board Education and Policy committee, which was certainly a new experience for me since I’m usually quickly ushered to the Finance Committee. However, I was excited for the new experience.
After extensive board development training, I’m already helping this committee break new ground. We’re investigating partnerships with the New Philanthropists and two Univ. Of Texas MBA Fellows to help our boards become more economically and racially inclusive and representative of the vibrant and diverse Austin community.
This project has turned out to be more involved and intricate than I expected. Identifying and cultivating new, high-performing board members and providing them an environment where they feel invited and will thrive alongside the YMCA is going to be a big job.
Despite feeling overwhelmed at times, over these last few months I have been on an unexpected journey as a volunteer that has me accomplishing important things that make me feel like I’m doing my part to make Austin better. I’m a proud Austin resident and I love that I have an opportunity to help my community thrive and serve those in need.
Interested in Helping?
I’ve always found asking for donations to be awkward and uncomfortable, but I’ve learned that many of my clients who live in Austin and surrounding communities want to give back just as much as I do.
I encourage you to visit the YMCA of Austin’s website where you can learn about volunteer opportunities. Or, if you’re stretched for time but want to offer support, I have a personal fundraising website for the YMCA Annual Giving Campaign where you can donate a cash gift. Your funds will directly benefit one of the YMCA’s many programs. You can learn more and donate here.
Richard Archer is a financial advisor and the President of Archer Investment Management with more than eighteen years of industry experience. Largely working with successful individuals and couples, he specializes in providing comprehensive investment guidance and personalized care and attention to each client. Along with holding a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a MBA, he is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certificant and a Chartered Financial Analyst®. He combines his advanced industry education and knowledge with his genuine care for people to provide clients with an exceptional experience. To learn more about Richard, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.archerim.com.