Singing River Honored as YMCA’s Humanitarians of the Year

GULF COAST, MISSISSIPPI, November 11, 2021 – The Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA presented Singing River Health System’s Chief Executive Officer Lee Bond with the 2021 Humanitarian Award for his and Singing River’s leadership and dedication to serving others in the community throughout the pandemic. 

On the night of the award, Bond accepted the humble honor on behalf of the health system’s 3,400 Singing River Strong team members and asked those in attendance to take the stage as the Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA’s Humanitarians of the Year. 2021 is the first year the YMCA Humanitarian Award went to an entire organization rather than a single individual. A move orchestrated by Bond upon learning he was selected to be this year’s winner.

Just like the YMCA, we want to be legendary for service. We are focused on that.

I sometimes tell people I have just one talent: a fearless, undying, driven, mission-based FOCUS to do whatever it takes to help the team win, no matter how hard it is. My system of beliefs, as a coach you might say, is that hard work and constancy of purpose yields results; you get out of things exactly what you put into them. There is no better way to lead than literally by example; we must put others first, ahead of ourselves. I believe incredible service can be a differentiator in any business.

Commitment or focus on service can make anyone a humanitarian. We owe special thanks to many of you from the community, whether it was giving encouraging words, supporting our vaccination efforts, or just being there for us in both small and mighty ways. Thank you for that and to the YMCA for this incredible honor.

Even when faced with financial struggles, hurricanes, catastrophes, pandemics, and an unprecedented labor crisis – Singing River is a committed team of people with a mission we believe in, a foundation of quality and grit, a commitment to serve with heart and soul, and the will to win. Despite the challenges we are sure to continue to face, we know if we put our minds to it and stay focused, remain humble but confident, we can do it. The voices in the night in your head, yeah, they‘ll tell you to quit. They’ll tell you that it’s hard, ’cause it is. We remember, as we like to say, there are footprints on the moon. And one step at a time, we will fight to do what it takes for humanity. We’ve done it before, we will rise up and do it again. That is what it means to be Singing River Strong. And I suppose that is what it means to be a Humanitarian.

Lee Bond, Chief Executive Officer, Singing River Health System

While the Humanitarian Award banquet is a time to recognize goodwill, it is also the YMCA’s biggest fundraiser each year. This year’s fundraising event was especially critical to the YMCA as it had to cancel the 2020 event due to COVID-19. 

“We don’t turn anybody away at the YMCA for inability to pay. All of our programs, whether it’s our child watch before school or after school program, whether it’s our swimming lessons, youth sports, membership to the Y – we don’t turn anybody away. So, this event allows us to fund the families of the Mississippi Gulf Coast to do our programs at the YMCA.”

Joey Conwill, Wellness Director, Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA

Each year, the Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA awards more than $100,000 in scholarships to assist individuals and families in the community with YMCA membership and program dues.