If you were to ask Curtis what the YMCA was before 2006, he would have responded with "is that the village people song?"
Growing up in Kenai Alaska, Curtis never experienced the programs or community of the YMCA. "My Y story started in ignorance, but it’s so much bigger than just a Y story—it's a Christ story, an opportunity to live my faith and be accepted in the business community."
Curtis' education brought him to Oregon where he’s stayed and entered the business world of banking and insurance. Through his job, Curtis met Mark Burris—our COO—who invited Curtis to the YMCA Christian Mission Advancement dinner. "I had heard of the YMCA at this point, but I did not realize that the 'C' in the YMCA stood for Christian."
Three years later, Mark invited Curtis to attend the dinner again. Curtis felt more encouraged to become involved and get behind the cause of the YMCA. Curtis began reaching out to friends, coworkers and strangers asking if they knew what the "C" in the YMCA stood for. "A lot of people did not know it stood for Christian—which made me feel better for originally not knowing—but I was surprised. About half the people I asked only knew." Curtis felt he could join the cause and Mark nudged him to join the Board of Trustees, with involvement on the Christian Mission Advancement Committee (CMAC).
This new position gave Curtis something he had searched for quite some time—a great conversation piece to share his faith with others in the business world. "I have the opportunity to tell people, I am on the Board of the Young Men's Christian Association, and I serve on the Christian Mission Advancement Committee." Within his first year of joining the Board, Curtis transitioned from joining the CMAC to becoming the chair, and the emcee of the annual dinner. As emcee, "I was able to say a year ago, I was just like you, sitting there, trying to figure out what the YMCA is. Now I am here, on stage helping the cause."
Curtis wants to work to preserve the "C" in the YMCA. “No sense in reinventing my own mission, but I find this a tremendous benefit to stand behind people like Bob Reichen—our VP of Mission Advancement—and help our organization with my time, talents and sharing our cause." ”The heritage of the Y needs to stay in the cause.” This is something that Curtis notices when he attends Board meetings, as not every member of the Board is Christian, they stand behind the cause of the Y. Regardless of their beliefs, Board members "can get behind the bigger cause because they know it is ultimately good."
Thank you Curtis for helping uphold the Christian mission in our Y and for the work you do alongside our CMAC. We are grateful for your passion and commitment to our cause. However, there is one thing Curtis can't seem to figure out since he joined the Y. "Which way does the 'C' go? I asked the people at the highest level of this organization and they don't even know."