UnitedHealthcare and Valparaiso YMCA collaborate to work toward a healthier community

UnitedHealthcare and Valparaiso YMCA collaborate to work toward a healthier community
By: Julia Demma Last Updated: January 30, 2020

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For a community to thrive and grow, there must be partnership resources in place that work to better its people, surroundings, and available opportunities year-round. One of the main areas for growth and enrichment is in physical health, which the Valparaiso YMCA works to improve every day. To support these efforts, UnitedHealthcare chose to team up with the health-driven organization.

Valparaiso native Mike Telesky, Vice President of Sales at UnitedHealthcare, has always been a supporter of the Y’s mission.

“The collaboration started really as a personal involvement for me,” Telesky said. “I live in Valparaiso, I’m a member of the Y, know the mission, and wanted to support the organization and its efforts.”

Bob Wanek, CEO of Valparaiso Family YMCA and chair member of UnitedHealthcare’s Citizen Advisory Board, first crossed paths with Telesky outside of business hours.

“Mike and I first connected on a friendship level before the alliance ever came to be,” Wanek said.

“Mike and I first connected on a friendship level before the alliance ever came to be,” Wanek said.

The affiliation blossomed from Telesky’s personal involvement and donations. UnitedHealthcare, through the United Health Foundation, matches any contributions from employees dollar for dollar, up to $15,000 per employee, per year to the charitable organizations of their choice.

“I had decided to set up a monthly reoccurring donation to the YMCA back in 2012,” Telesky said.“The United Health Foundation doubles this investment and furthers my personal support to a great organization that works to better the Valparaiso community.”

It’s sort of amazing how closely the missions of the two organizations align. UnitedHealth Group’s mission is “helping people live healthier lives®,” and the Y strives to create programs that build a “healthy spirit, mind and body for all.”

This close alignment was the base for a strong collaboration. In 2015, Telesky pushed for a formal sponsorship outside of his matched monthly donation, which is now geared toward supporting multiple YMCA fundraising events throughout the year.

“We enjoy sponsoring various events for the Y such as the Y Bash, golf outings, and more. Having our local office involved in the community in this way is great,” Telesky said.

The Y Bash, which UnitedHealthcare is extremely involved in, is the Valparaiso YMCA’s signature fundraising event benefiting the Annual Campaign at the Y. This year’s theme is the “YLight Zone” and will be hosted at the Porter County Expo Center on February 1. Guests will experience a casual evening of silent and live auctions, food, music, and fellowship, all to benefit the many people we serve in our community.

“At UnitedHealthcare, we like to invite our local clients and constituents to join us at a sponsored table,” Telesky said. “It’s a great way to give back and support the Y and provides an opportunity to show our clients and customers to a potential new audience all while enjoying an evening filled with great food, music, and people.”

Telesky noted seeing a major positive impact on the community since the collaboration with the Valpo Y formed.

“I’ve seen the membership grow at the Y as well as new programs and equipment become available to community members,” Telesky said.
Telesky and his family members spend a lot of time at the YMCA.

“Every year I do a large stair climb in Chicago, and I prepare and train for this at the YMCA. I also enjoy taking the early morning spin classes that are available,” Telesky said. “We have a whole family membership at the Valpo Y. My wife loves to run the track, and my kids enjoy the swimming pool. My daughter is also involved in basketball and is currently receiving some one-on-one coaching at the Y.”

UnitedHealthcare has been a big supporter of the Y’s quest to create a healthier community, which Telesky views as a necessity.

“An overall healthy community is so important. The key to a healthy lifestyle relies on the social determinants of health and accessibility. Having access to a place like the Y where you are welcomed and have access to hundreds of programs and state-of-the-art equipment helps to improve community members’ health if they chose to do so,” Telesky said. “I hope to see this continue in the future so that everyone will continue and have access to these resources at an affordable price.”

Later this year, the Valparaiso Family YMCA will launch its 21st-century plan that will focus on key community issues such as substance abuse, obesity, youth mental health, affordable childcare, and serving and connecting with the GenX generation.

“We will be working with companies including UnitedHealthcare in order to cater to and support these key community issues,” Wanek said.

Telesky and UnitedHealthcare are eager to continue their efforts in the community while working toward a common goal.

“It’s important for everybody to do everything they can to support organizations like the Valpo Y because we are all one community and its overall health affects everybody,” Telesky said.

The Valparaiso Family YMCA is grateful for the support and sponsorships that UnitedHealthcare is able to provide and feels enthusiastic for the future.

“UnitedHealthcare has a great team in place. We communicate with them and they help provide our needs and further our mission,” Wanek said. “It’s truly teamwork that goes both ways because we both gain valuable resources and support that make us stronger.”

To learn more about the Valparaiso YMCA, click here. To learn more about UnitedHealthcare, click here.

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