Christmas came early for First Coast YMCA.
The organization is one of 384 non-profits nationwide to receive a donation from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott and one of the only three organizations on the first coast to get a monetary gift from Scott.
Eric Mann, the president, and CEO of the First Coast YMCA says through his nearly 40 years working at the Y he has never seen this type of philanthropy with no strings attached giving the organization freedom to use the money however it chooses.
“My hands shook I was on the phone. And then I just looked up and said, “Thank you God” and that was it. I hate to say this, no I don’t hate to say this, but I probably cried a little bit as well,” said Eric Mann, First Coast YMCA President & CEO.
Eric Mann, President, and CEO of the First Coast YMCA said this was his reaction when he found out his organization would be receiving a sizable donation from MacKenzie Scott.
At this time, the Y is not disclosing the amount of that donation, but Mann says it will have a generational impact.
“It’s a transformational gift. I believe for us it’s going to have a generational impact. It’s really going to allow us to rebound from the effects of the pandemic, which is still going on. We’re probably at about 60% of what we were pre-Covid,” said Mann.
On March 16, the Y had to shut down all its operations.
At that time, it had 22,000 members and was serving over 2,000 kids a day through its afterschool program.
While the organization has been able to navigate the pandemic thus far, Mann says it likely won’t get back to its pre-Covid status until 2022.
I asked, Mann what he would say to Ms. Scott for receiving the donation.
“Just thank you. Thank you for believing in organizations that are doing good work on the ground day today. And trusting the organizations because it’s an unrestricted gift,” said Mann.
While this is a monumental donation, Mann says it will still need the support of the community.
He also says the board of the First Coast YMCA next month to discuss how the money will be used -- at that time the organization will disclose the amount.
In addition to this organization receiving these much-needed funds, Goodwill Southeast Georgia received $5 million from Scott, and the United Way also received a donation.