How Microsoft Products have Optimized The Meadowlands YMCAs Mission Delivery

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Meadowlands Area YMCA
City & State:
New Jersey
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

The Meadowlands Area YMCA’s mission is to serve the residential and corporate communities in our area by offering services and programs that build healthy spirits, minds and bodies; so that men, women and children of all ages, income, abilities, races and religions can participate in programs that will help them to develop as individuals and as citizens in their communities.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Most, if not all nonprofit YMCAs often struggle with limited resources. The donation program created By Microsoft and administered through Techsoup has impacted the Meadowlands Area YMCA in such a positive way. In addition to gaining access to productivity tools, our organization has been able to focus more of our expenditures on programs and community services that provide a wide variety of training, childcare, heart healthy exercise for youth, adults and seniors, as well as building family relationships. It's hard to imagine that just 14 years ago, our YMCA was putting together old, donated computers and trying to scrape up Windows 95 diskettes to get these computers going. Our office was smaller, we had no knowledge of the internet and most of our data about our programs were handwritten onto graph paper. We knew there was a better way, but did not have the direction nor the resources to get there. As the YMCA’s contact in the community grew, so did the need for a better functioning office. There could be no better fit than working together with Microsoft and TechSoup. Through this partnership, we were able to acquire software donations of Microsoft Server software, among other items. This was such a fantastic savings because we had nearly doubled our staff. Now, lessons are hard to learn and when you are cautious with your cash, hiring technical staff sometimes is a necessity that we don’t have. Well, the price we paid for the server software was so reasonable, it was hard to believe. And now, we could all be connected and not get kicked off the network for having too many users. What a relief! But did you hear what I said, “A Network”! Just that alone had brought this small office into the future.We also purchased our first productivity suite, office 2000. Amazing! We felt like we moved into a new millennium. With the purchase of newer computers, which were donated to us as well, we now had a good working office. Imagine putting the pencils down to finally be able to use an excel sheet to track our patrons and the classes they were taking. We pulled attendance sheets! We did budgets! We wrote letters! We designed flyers! Having this resource had a direct and meaningful impact on this local nonprofit that allowed us to increase productivity and more effectively serve the residents of our New Jersey area.

Now, as with anything, once you have enjoyed the benefits, you start to desire more, and we did. We moved on to the internet! We were going to make our mark and start a website and with the website, we were going to start e-mailing. I know that hearing this in the year 2009 may sound so archaic, but in reality, even though the technology had been around for some time, it really was not that long ago. This was going to be quite a journey and one that we could not have embraced without the purchase of our productivity suite. And, as an added advantage, we had software assurance! With software assurance, whenever there was an upgrade, we were entitled to it. That meant a lot to us. It meant that we could stay current and when you stay current you stay effective.

Now, let’s talk about Microsoft FrontPage – another donation but such a magnificent impact. We started designing our own web pages and people were actually visiting our website – Microsoft Outlook – we now had E-mail accounts, and when you think about it, you wonder how we ever communicated effectively before. Today, the first thing most employees do is read their e-mail and reply and within seconds sometimes, you have your answer or your appointment.

Our website has become so valuable to us and the fact that we can make the changes ourselves and update our programs is a resource we cannot be without. We are happy to be able to communicate to our community in this way. It saves them time and it also saves us time and postage. When we save money, then that allows us to offer another swim class at a reduced or reasonable fee to someone who could not otherwise afford a program. Because the YMCA exists to promote the healthy development of all kids and their families regardless of their financial means, each dollar saved or contributed to the YMCA can go directly to making YMCA programs and membership available to those in need.

One of our biggest challenges has been in the automation of centralizing our information. We have searched for an intelligent way to have these programs feed into the many different data bases that we need. Microsoft Access has helped us with that challenge. We are learning the basics by reading all the tutorials so that we can create one database that will serve as the basis for all our important information dissemination.

Another important impact is the fact that we can remote into our desktop. This has proven to be a lifesaver in many instances. Our Associate Director can remote into her home office and literally be in 2 places at once. Our payroll coordinator also has utilized this feature and that allows her to be home while still working for the Meadowlands Area YMCA. When space is an issue, remotely working is a blessing. Remote access is fast becoming a necessity rather than a luxury.

Not too long ago, I was watching the Discovery Channel and the biography of Bill Gates was airing. Above all his many accomplishments, I think I was most impressed when he spoke of his mother. As a teacher, one of her “lessons in life” was that of philanthropist. It is a lesson that he has learned well and we are very grateful for that. The Meadowlands Area YMCA is approaching another pinnacle in our service to our community. I am sure it comes as no surprise that in today’s economy, many people are in need of something. It is becoming harder to keep pace and the recession has pinched our charitable events, as participants worry about whether they will be able to pledge this year. The decline, perhaps as much as 50 percent in some cases has been a challenge. With that in mind, the Meadowlands Area YMCA still remains dedicated to building strong kids, strong families and strong communities. Now, more than ever, whatever we can do to cut back on expenses to help families, save jobs, provide childcare, educate our patrons about living a healthy lifestyle, from children to seniors and so much more will come through the generosity of others and the dedication of those who work within a non-profit organization.

Please visit our website at and you will see firsthand how creatively and wonderfully we have used Microsoft Products to impact our community and our YMCA. Our expectations are high and we remain grateful for all the support that we get. We are the Meadowlands Area YMCA and we’re a PC!

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery
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