More than 66 percent of Americans believe the quality of life in their community declined in the last year.
Only 24 percent believe it will get better. A whopping 53 percent think our current state will remain in place.
The results come from a community snapshot survey conducted by the national YMCA, and they suggest our nation needs not only a revitalization, but a willingness to believe we can overcome these economic doldrums and regain our greatness.
As it's done so many times during its 160-year history, the YMCA stands primed to fuel just such a revival. On Monday, the nonprofit introduced a new logo and launched an awareness campaign to underscore its longtime commitment to strengthening communities.
The logo change, the nonprofit's first in 43 years, represents a rebranding strategy that embraces the organization's nickname — "the Y" — and seeks to increase understanding of its mission. The group wants to be referred to as just "the Y" going forward.
The tenets, however, remain the same: youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.
"We're changing how we talk about ourselves and we're simplifying how we describe our programs," Kate Coleman, chief marketing officer of YMCA of the USA, during a Monday morning webcast.
YMCA of the USA president and chief executive officer Neil Nicoll said the organization's survey didn't reveal any surprises when it came to Americans' top worry: the economy.
Beyond that, however, came three other pressing concerns: negative youth behavior, including teen violence and bullying; access to health care; and declining personal and community values.
The Y learned that families interested in reversing those trends want to start in the home and work collaboratively with government, businesses and nonprofits.
"A uniquely American quality: It's broken, I'm not happy with it, but it's my responsibility to fix it," Nicoll explained.
Locally, the Y gives people a chance to fix it through programs under its three primary principles to address the most pervasive problems. We think of team sports, swim lessons and workouts when it comes the Y, but many of its programs go beyond the centers.
In Sulphur Springs, the Tampa Metro YMCA plays a vital role in that neighborhood's rebirth by offering morning outreach classes for parents, after-school clubs and a full summer program.
The Greater St. Petersburg YMCA, celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, boasts of a neighbor-to-neighbor program that provided 400 families with a Christmas tree, decorations, presents and gift cards to buy Christmas meals.
The YMCA of the Suncoast is the largest provider of school-age child care in Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties.
More than ever, we need folks to use such opportunities to strengthen the community. If only 24 percent of us believe we can get better, we'll just have to do the lifting for everyone else.
Why? As you will hear in the YMCA's new campaign, the answer is simple: "Because we need each other."
That's all I'm saying.