(CNS Local Life): The YMCA of the Cayman Islands (Y) and the Cayman Islands Little League (CILL) are combining resources, allowing two of the oldest and largest providers of youth programmes in the world to unite in a shared passion for building character in Cayman’s youth. The Y will provide the Little League Association with administrative and management support while being allowed to build facilities on undeveloped land behind the ballfields.
The Y has just celebrated its fifth anniversary in the Cayman Islands and the CILL was officially established in 1990. For the past four years, the Y has been leasing Little League facilities to offer day camp and teen programmes during the summer and school holidays. Under the new arrangement, the Little League will allow YMCA to build facilities that will offer additional activities for youth and families. In return, the Y has committed to make extensive improvements at the Field of Dreams, stated a joint press release from the two organisations.
One significant element of the new agreement is a field-replacement project, estimated to cost around $1 million. The CILL will work together with the Y to raise the necessary funds and oversee the replacement within the next two years as part of a comprehensive plan for capital development on the property, said the release.
Initial YMCA concepts for the undeveloped land include indoor academic support and recreational facilities that will accommodate all ages, from young children through active seniors. Additional amenities under consideration are a splash park, playground, exercise area and pavilions, which will complement the brand-new ropes course that was made possible by fundraising through the 2017 DG’s 5K Challenge.
For more than 25 years, the Little League programme has relied almost solely on volunteers to operate. With the addition of professional Y staff to support administrative functions and facility operations, CILL leaders expect to grow participation and improve the baseball and softball programmes in Cayman.
“The CILL and YMCA have found synergy in our mission and purpose for serving the community, primarily in the area of engaging youth in constructive and healthy activity that teaches positive values such as sportsmanship, respect and responsibility,” said Y CEO Greg Smith. “The YMCA leadership is excited for this opportunity to further collaborate in a unique and special partnership, united in our commitment to strengthening the community.”
CILL chairman Erwin Freeland said of the joint effort, “The Little League has great potential, and we are delighted to partner with the Y as we continue to work toward fully realising our goals of serving the community and helping our youth develop. This partnership makes great sense. We’re as committed as ever to see our programme and facilities grow into something that is revered in our community and abroad.”
Although there are considerable benefits that result from combining resources, Smith noted that such partnerships are not more common because trust is needed to ensure that resources are shared equally, with both organisations cooperating rather than acting in self-interest. “This kind of trust does not come easily,” he said. “It needs to be built over time, not only by the individuals in leadership roles, but through the history and purpose of each organisation.
“There must be a sense that we are aligned philosophically and can connect through a common purpose. In this case, all of the elements are in place, and we will be mindful to properly nurture the relationship as we move forward.”
Richard Finlay, chairman of the CILL capital planning committee said of the arrangement: “Of the many moments of joy and satisfaction I have witnessed over the decades as a volunteer with CILL, this is my most satisfying moment. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that benefits all stakeholders – Little League, the YMCA and the community at large. A true win-win-win.”
JC Calhoun, founder of the Little League and member of the current Y board, added, “This pooling of resources will have a greater impact on our society. In years to come, I believe this partnership will be looked upon as a milestone in the history of Cayman charities.
“We cannot hope to solve our social problems without getting in the trenches and fighting to renew the values which made our country great in the first place. The renewal of values such as honesty, caring, respect, responsibility and faith are the very foundations of the existing programmes and all that will evolve from the new relationship between Cayman’s YMCA and the Cayman Little League.”