The Leech's Background
It may surprise you to learn, however, that Mr. Leech is not a seasoned business professional. And it hasn’t taken a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past for him to realize that “the common welfare was his business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all his business.” Mr. Leech, though retired now, was a pastor.
Kim’s wife, May, was a teacher and school administrative professional. Together, the Leeches have spent their lives investing in people. They continue to do just that. Now, though, things look a little different. At this point in their lives, the Leeches have found that one of the best ways to continue contributing to their community is to support the Jordan YMCA.
As a boy, Kim Leech had taken a few swimming lessons at the Jordan Y. He reminisces that the center was pretty much new then. But later on, he moved away. That’s when Mr. and Mrs. Leech gained some experience in a low-income region of Kansas. Before moving back to Indiana in 2004, their time there informed how they “invest” their finances now.
“It was important to us to put our money where it would be used well,” Mrs. Leech shares. “I spent 40 years in education, and most of that was in inner-city schools. And I saw that kids really needed an outlet, and there weren’t enough. And so, it’s important to us to help provide a place where children can safely play and be accepted and grow. And so, the Y is a natural place for that.”Current Y Connection
The Leeches’ current connection to the Y started a few years ago when Kim was feeling the toll of age and muscle loss. He joined for personal training at the urging of his physicians. Kim knows the center is a positive force in our community due to this personal experience. He’s been more than pleased with his trainer, Liz Lynch.
“I’m really happy with her on a number of levels. First of all, she’s extremely competent, and she is tailoring my workout toward my needs in particular… the additional plus is we get along well, and there’s a nice rapport.”
Mr. Leech shares that decades ago, he had a professor who said every institution has “weather.” You walk in the door and measure this “weather.” Is it welcoming here? Is it friendly? Would my child fit in? Kim says he’s fortunate to be at the center when there are a lot of children afoot. He especially appreciates the diversity he sees in the membership in general: in age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background.
“It’s extremely important to us that children in particular of low-income and [diverse] racial-ethnic backgrounds are welcome. And they are, by the policy of the Y. And I think people measure that in terms of “weather.” They come in, they see that, and they can get a tour and experience more of that.”
Not only does Mr. Leech invest financially to further that policy of acceptance, he also invests himself. He’s taken to striking up conversations with anyone and everyone while he’s at the center. In our society, the unspoken motif is that you respect each other’s space, according to Kim. But he has found that with most – though you might think a person is distant – if you say a word or two, they’ll open up.
Kim says that the staff contributes to this “good weather,” too. They’re always pleasant, and he has high respect for the employees. Undergirding all the interactions he has is their keen awareness of the values of the Y. Specifically, that everyone is equal and things are fair here.
Investing in equity
May also notes that a part of that equity is where the Jordan Y is located.
“It’s not in a wealthy suburb,” she says. “It’s in the city where it belongs. And so, therefore, you reach out and put your money where it will help the city the most. And that’s with its children, who don’t belong in the street. They belong in a safe environment.”
Every contribution to the Jordan YMCA’s Annual Campaign supports that goal: everyone in our community has an equitable opportunity to have a YMCA membership.
What is that household name in which the Leeches invested? How can they now support all the great programs at the Y? Every time Mr. Leech was called upon to officiate a funeral or a wedding, he funneled that income into buying “odd lots” with an athletic wear company. Beginning in the 1970s, he would purchase five shares here, ten there… with Nike.
Recently, Mr. Leech has cashed in a portion of those shares and donated those profits to YMCA annual campaign at the Trustee Level. This most recent “investment” has had the most significant dividends for the Leeches and our community: everyone, regardless of background, can grow in mind, body, and spirit, with the same chance to enjoy the “weather” at the Y.
You, too, can invest in youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility for all at indymca.org/donate. Merry Christmas!