Sr. Krista von Borstel and track athletes enjoy a moment after a meet. (Courtesy CYO/Camp Howard)
Sr. Krista von Borstel and track athletes enjoy a moment after a meet. (Courtesy CYO/Camp Howard)
As we celebrate CYO’s 75-year legacy, it’s a great time to reflect on our organization’s transformation and impact. Former CYO Director Phil Murphy did a magnificent job of setting the foundation for CYO, giving 30 years of his life to doing so, and the quality and consistency that resulted.

As the internet and digital media age unfolded, I began my role as executive director by building a strong organization for CYO programs: prepping athletic directors for the school year, clear calendaring of events and making sports accessible for all kids in all grades. During my time at CYO, we have more than doubled the number of participants. For example, a single Saturday track meet has transformed into four meets (at different locations), finishing by 1 p.m. to allow families to enjoy the rest of their day.

My greatest pleasure has been working with the coaches, reminding them of CYO’s philosophy, that they are servants of Christ both on and off the court. CYO is less about preparing kids for high school or college sports and all about having a great sports experience while they are participating.

I am so grateful to so many people instrumental to CYO’s growth and success: CYO staff, commissioners, board members, coaches, athletic directors…volunteers who have stepped up to serve. The volunteers are essential to our CYO – and camp – offerings.

I must also share that the donors have made it possible for CYO and Camp Howard to avoid turning anyone away due to inability to pay. No child gets left behind. These past 11 years of funding during our Champions of Faith annual event have made the real difference in providing opportunities for kids. Fondly, I recount our steadfast donors who have been there for us year in and year out, particularly during the difficult times.

As we look ahead to the next 75 years of CYO, we have updated our mission to inspire our path forward: Challenge those who experience sports and camp with us to live, learn and grow in the Catholic faith. So, what’s in store as we look ahead? We are on the cusp of completing our camp rebuild, including our St. Michael the Archangel chapel/multipurpose building, readying the next 75 years of camp participation and making great memories possible.

Now, our focus is to secure property on Portland’s east side to build a permanent sports facility, including track and basketball courts. Facilities on the east side are few in number or undersized, making it difficult for kids to compete. Building new facilities will enable more kids to compete and experience the joy and impact of CYO sports.

Legacy giving will make it possible for CYO to achieve its future dreams. We need your help in building the big-ticket items of the future, including a sports center on the east side. Legacy giving is the future for CYO and Camp Howard and organizing a sustained campaign will be a heavy focus of ours going forward. CYO and Camp Howard are independently financed, and our full intention is to keep it that way. We can remain a viable stimulus in changing kids’ lives and forging stronger communities. In addition, we can retain the freedom to make the best decisions in serving our youth. Please help us by considering a legacy gift.

Sr. Krista is executive director of CYO/Camp Howard.