“Coming in large numbers”: myths and truth about YMCA Minsk

YMCA Minsk celebrated 18 years of the department. What will be in the future? Where is the myth and where is the truth? We try to learn it with the chairman of YMCA Minsk Alexander Trushnikov:

There are no people born in Minsk in YMCA Minsk

It’s right. YMCA Minsk is a big company of the people from all over Belarus. From the one side, it’s good when people who have experience in participation in YMCA events meet together. They understand each other. But from the other side there are a lot of ambitious people who are used to the traditions of their departments of the organization. And sometimes it causes debates and fight for leadership. And some loose connection with the organization because of the saturated student life.

We try to use the potential of all the members as much as possible. We adjust the experienced leaders and develop new branches of our activity. Also, we attract Minsk citizens. People from other cities are about 70 percent. But this part is decreasing.

90% of the members are students

— This is not quite true. It is true that many come to Minsk to study. But the proportion of students among members and volunteers of YMCA Minsk is about 25%. The majority are those who have received a diploma and have begun to work or have arrived in Minsk from other regions searching for a job.

To attract schoolchildren and students, we conduct seminars on topics interesting to them. We also offer to engage in tensing, the study of foreign languages. Also, we provide other opportunities.

No long-term projects

— Minsk is like a big train station. There are a lot of students who come to the capital to study, and after the fifth year go back.

In addition, there is competition among public organizations and commercial leisure options in the capital. And, of course, long distances need to be taken into account: while in a district or even regional center, it is often possible to reach the meeting point on foot, but in Minsk sometimes it takes an hour and a half. And all these factors naturally complicate the organization’s activities. The list of members and volunteers is often updated, which prevents the stable implementation of long-term projects.

Therefore, we are focused on short-term events based on the actual interests of our team. We work in such areas as thematic evenings, international cooperation, environmental direction, scouting. In addition, we develop ideas born in other branches of the YMCA of Belarus. But there are original projects, our own «specialities». For example, “Open Minsk” is a regular event in the “trendy” quest format. Its members can show their intellectual, physical and creative potential, make new friends, have fun and learn about the activities of our department. In the future, such projects are planned to be done in other cities together with representatives of other local branches of the YMCA of Belarus.

Only 3 people left a few years ago

— It’s true. Then there was a sharp change of generations. Some left for other countries. And the new leaders were not experienced enough. But the guys tried very hard and were able to preserve the traditions and the department itself.

How to avoid such shocks in the future, attract new people and ensure the succession of the generations? This year we plan to launch a series of seminars on the management of the organization, the transfer of experience to a new wave of leaders. Experienced marketers claim that the success of the succession and cohesion of the team depend on the presence of the strong traditions. Therefore, we generate and maintain new, interesting traditions of the YMCA Minsk.

Every second has children.

It’s close to the truth: almost 40%. How to make family people not leave the organization? Maybe it’s time to think about opening a family club, as it was done in the YMCA Brest. What can we do with children? Probably, there can be developmental groups, with the involvement of psychologists, pathologists, speech therapists, and other specialists. What else will change in the activities of YMCA Minsk in the coming years? This will depend on the interests of members of the department and general trends in our country. But I would like to preserve the spirit, values ​​and traditions that now unite us.

The main force — soft skills

— Each member or volunteer of YMCA Minsk has its own history of joining the organization. I joined it about five years ago. Some people like to receive gifts, while others rejoice when they give them. I belong to the second. I like to help and give smiles. Having learned from a friend about the YMCA and its values, I realized that it is just for me. Some are attracted by the special spirit of openness of the organization, others by interesting events, and third by the opportunity to express themselves, to become a leader. I decided to try myself as the chairman of the branch office at the moment when another turning point began. It took courage, hard work, resistance to stress and responsibility to solve the problems that were in the local branch. We were able to stabilize the situation. And now I want to share my experience in document management and management with those who can later become branch leaders. In general, we can say that the experience gained in the YMCA of Minsk can be useful in other areas of life. We develop soft skills (flexible life skills) — which are unlikely to receive in the classical education. Nowadays, many employers appreciate such flexibility and creativity.

Ruslan Ananyeu

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