YMCA of Greater Omaha using $10M donation to increase wages, add equipment

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 10:32 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Major changes are happening at the YMCA of Greater Omaha thanks to the largest donation they’ve ever received.

“In December during the pandemic when things were absolutely at their bleakest, we had somebody reach out and say we have an anonymous donor who would like to donate to you,” Chris Tointon, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Omaha said.

Tointon was expecting at most a couple of thousand dollars, but he was wrong.

“That turned out to be $10 million,” he said.

The anonymous donor who has now come forward is MacKenzie Scott, a billionaire businesswoman, and philanthropist.

“She hired a firm to search nonprofits, over 4,000 of them, to study their 990s, to study their processes, and to study their impact,” Tointon explained. “And she came back and chose two organizations in Nebraska and 43 YMCAs in America — and we’re one of those organizations.”

Tointon says the money is life-changing. They’re going to use it to focus on five initiatives. The first: more accessible pools.

“We have new pool lifts and life safety emergency equipment in our pools that’ll help keep people safer and help allow us to serve the public better,” he said.

They’re also adding park equipment, e-sports, and facility updates, like replacing the front doors with automatic sliding doors.

“Make it so much easier for people who are in walkers, wheelchairs or have strollers with them, or have five kids in tow, to be able to have the doors open for you instead of having to pull on something heavy,” Tointon said.

The fifth initiative is a big one, they’re raising their minimum wage to $11 an hour.

“As one of the largest providers of first-time jobs in the state, we’re committed to taking care of the kids who’ve never worked before and are working their way up,” he said.

They’re hoping it’ll inspire other organizations to pay a livable wage as well.

Work is already underway to implement the changes, changes they’re hoping make their community feel welcomed and included.

“This allows us to be able to dig in deep and do some of the things in the community that we wanted to do but maybe didn’t have enough resources to be able to pull off,” Tointon said.

While this donation helps significantly for immediate changes, the Y still relies on community donations to keep its programs going.

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