„YMCA Europe is a working fellowship to strengthen movements where people grow in body, mind and spirit.“

15th Anniversary of YMCA Ivanovo, Russia

12th December 2010

Dear Friends in Ivanovo, Dorogije Druzja,
On behalf of the YMCA Europe I would like to congratulate you for your great day – 15 Anniversary of the YMCA in Ivanovo.

As perhaps many of you know, YMCA is the oldest and still the biggest youth movement in the world - we are present in more than 125 countries and we have more than 45 millions members. In Europe we are present almost everywhere, starting with Azores Islands in West, up to Iceland in North and Barnaul, Siberia in East, ending with Istanbul and Malta in South.

Personally I visited thousands of YMCA places in Europe, but sincerely one of the visits, which I will never forget was Ivanovo. It was a short visit, just two days some years ago. With my wonderful guide and friend Alexei Kostyakov we spent some time in the impressive YMCA center, where we talked with children and young people, where we met social workers and police staff working together with YMCA - just to improve lives of those, who are at risk to loose happiness of everyday life, one of the simplest but most important God´s gifts to all of us. We were visiting youth department of Ivanovo local administration where I was extremelly impressed by its dedication and professionalism in understanding modern approach to youth work. Over the glass of aromatic tea in local administration building in Ivanovo I discovered that best things in the world always took place in locations like Ivanovo, not in capital cities and huge aglomerations. There we can find true passion, creativity, friendship and hospitality. You can be extremally proud of that!

In the small library of YMCA Ivanovo I saw one of the books of Alexander Solzenitschin published long time ago by YMCA Press in Paris. I was surprised that the publication from France found its home far away in Ivanovo. After those two days in Ivanovo I was no anymore surprised by such a discovery – your town and your YMCA became for me the best example that impossible is possible if we believe in it! 

Have a great day and celebrations!

Michal Szymanczak
YMCA Europe Acting Secretary General 

Author/Source: Michal Szymanczak, YMCA Europe Acting Secretary General

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