The YMCA of Greater Charlotte’s annual M.L.K. Holiday Celebration, with breakfast, will resume in-person festivities this year. This is the first in-person installment of the event since 2020.
This year’s theme is “equitable leadership during challenging times” and will focus on how people in leadership can address social injustices that impact underserved communities.
A women-led panel discussion consisting of speakers who hold leadership positions across Charlotte, like Krista Terrell, the president of the Arts and Science Council, and Kinneil Coltman, chief community & social impact officer at Advocate Health.
Based on survey feedback from attendees in prior years, people felt that there had been too many men on the panel. This year, John Ham, board chair of the McCrorey Family YMCA, said they wanted to be sensitive to that feedback and be more intentional during the planning process.
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“We chose all women because we realize that a lot of challenges, as it relates to income gaps or climbing the corporate ladder, are often related or directly tied to women,” Ham said.
“We also tapped into some young ladies who we felt were really making strides in our community.”
Over the years
The first breakfast event was held in the early 90’s. The McCrorey Family YMCA’s board of directors decided to celebrate Dr. King’s mission for equality through a community event. About 200 people attended.
Since then, more than 1,000 have attended the breakfast. This year, the event’s expected turnout is around 1,300, according to Heather Briganti, vice president of communications at the YMCA of Greater Charlotte.
The celebration went virtual during the Covid-19 pandemic, which allowed the YMCA branch to cut back on expenses usually associated with the event. However, during this time, virtual attendance was low and YMCA memberships also dwindled.
The 2023 celebration will be held in person now that the convention center has reopened and vaccinations are widely available, adding an increased sense of security to in-person events. Attendees are asked to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test completed within 48 hours of the event.
“We have pretty much hit our goal, but we are still obviously looking for sponsors, Ham said. “Tables have been filled, so it has proven that people are ready to get back in person.”
Funds received from sponsors will benefit the McCrorey Family YMCA directly and will support a new teen tech center, which educates teenagers about the latest software technology. Proceeds will also benefit after school programs and lessen the YMCA’s financial deficit.
“People want to have that camaraderie that can’t be replaced without an in-person event,” Ham said.
The M.L.K. Holiday Celebration will be held on Jan. 16 at 8 a.m. Doors will open at 7:15 a.m.
Masks are not required, but will be provided.