Member Profile: Mike Beck
A Passion for Helping Kids
In 1999, I was living in a suburb when my office moved around the corner from the Vanderbilt YMCA in midtown Manhattan. I had a very bad back, and I'd been through all types of treatments: physical therapy, pain management, holistic medicine, chiropractic and so on.
I decided to try to get myself into an exercise routine and swimming. I started going to the Vanderbilt Y at about five in the morning, finishing my routine around seven; then I'd go up to my office. At some point I was asked by one of the YMCA members if I would like to make a contribution to their Annual Fundraising Campaign and of course, I didn't hesitate to do so.
For a number of years, I continued to exercise at Vanderbilt and one day the Executive Director asked me if I'd like to get active within the YMCA besides just exercising, so I joined the board in 2001. Because I am the Chief Financial Officer of my company, I was asked if I would serve as Chair of the Vanderbilt Finance Committee. I've been Branch Chair of the Vanderbilt board for three consecutive terms.
When I first joined the Vanderbilt Y, I didn't realize how involved the Y is in the community, helping children and families and improving the future of New York City.
Growing up I was poor kid from Brooklyn, and I didn't know about the Y. My mom went to work when I was eight years old and my father balanced several jobs at one time.
As a result, one of my strongest passions is to mentor kids — the Y gives me that opportunity. Growing up in Brooklyn and not having had the knowledge about the Y's existence, I try to be an advocate of the Y any opportunity I get. All people should have the opportunity to be involved with the Y.
Being part of the Heritage Society means making either a current gift in support of the endowment fund, or via an estate gift that will benefit the Y at a later date. It's your own personal desire, of leaving a part of your legacy; and contributing to the benefit of kids.
When I travel and speak with people, many still think the Y is nothing more than a gym and a swimming pool. But I think people in New York City are becoming aware that the Y is so much more than another health club.
The ultimate goal is to leave a legacy in a philanthropic way. Some people do it with their estate planning, insurance policies, annuities — there are many options with tax advantages to suit different personal situations.
The way I see it, is this: every kid you can help is a success story.