Herbalife Nutrition Makes the YMCA Best Choice Center Safer with Large Donation


It takes a village to raise a child, and that's just what’s happening at the Gateway YMCA in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. After school programs and summer camps in the YMCA's Best Choice Center greatly enriches the lives of many local children and their families. These programs are funded on a sliding scale by the United Way, so family income is not a barrier to participation. The Herbalife Nutrition Foundation (HNF), a non-profit funded by Herbalife Nutrition, has a "Casa Herbalife" program at the Best Choice Center to help meet the nutritional needs of the children, but often times, the Herbalife Nutrition Foundation goes much further than this in providing assistance to the center.

On December 14, 2018, a photo was taken with eight grinning children from the Best Choice Center holding a giant check for $30,000! Herbalife Nutrition Foundation's mega donation was to help repair the center’s hurricane damaged roof and deck. The donation will make the center a safe environment for the kids, staff, and volunteers. Standing with them was Mark Evans, the general manager of Herbalife Nutrition's Innovation and Manufacturing Facility located in Winston-Salem, along with Annie Tyson Jett, the Senior Manager of Human Resources at the same Herbalife Nutrition facility.

Giving away giant checks has to be the most enjoyable part of their jobs for both Mark Evans and Annie Tyson Jett. They get to play "Santa Claus" for such a good cause, and it's evidently not the first time. In an interview about the center, Herbalife Nutrition's Mark Evans praised the center's impact on the community, "The Best Choice Center is a key contributor to the transformative health and wellness of the community, and we are proud to be a partner in that positive change."

Christy Respess, the President and CEO of the YMCA of Winston-Salem, seemed very grateful for Herbalife Nutrition's assistance and partnership. She expressed it this way, "They seem to anticipate our needs, and this challenge grant for the roof could not be more important after the hurricanes this past fall. We are so fortunate to be an Herbalife Casa." Everything Herbalife Nutrition does is centered around being a positive force in the communities where they operate. It's something they're known for in every country they're in, and they're in more than thirty countries!

The name for the "Herbalife Casa" programs, aimed directly at supporting local community projects, came from the name the founder of Herbalife Nutrition gave to an orphanage he opened in Brazil. He actually established several orphanages, but Casa Herbalife in Brazil was his first and is close to his heart. In Portuguese, "casa" means home, so it's fitting that the Best Choice Center's website makes it clear that they want their center to be a second home to the children and their families. It's a safe place to learn, have fun, socialize with others, and get nutritious snacks from Casa Herbalife. Although their aquatics center is still closed for repairs, the kids will soon get swimming lessons!

Herbalife Nutrition started running their modern Herbalife Innovation Manufacturing facility in Winston-Salem in 2013, with an official opening on January 16, 2015. They give back to the community by employing about five hundred residents. Odds are good that the parents of some of the children who enjoy the programs at the Gateway YWCA's Best Choice Center work at the Herbalife plant. The Winston-Salem plant manufactures some of Herbalife Nutrition's most famous products, including their flagship product, the Herbalife Nutrition Formula 1 Shake powder mixes, the Aloe Vera Concentrate, and the world-famous Herbalife Nutrition Herbal Tea. The plant also houses a research and development center for Herbalife Nutrition products.

Christy Respess continued to speak highly about Herbalife Nutrition, saying "Since the company moved to Winston-Salem, Herbalife Nutrition has been a steady partner to the YMCA, especially the Best Choice Center." Herbalife Nutrition was practicing corporate social responsibility long before anyone was talking about it and before anyone had ever coined the term. It was just a natural outgrowth of the founder's philosophy on life and those he recruited to build the company. It's been passed down in the genetics of the company.

Herbalife Nutrition doesn't just give money to Gateway YMCA's Best Choice Center. They give their time too. Sometimes, this time turns into beautiful gifts. Just a few months ago, in September 2018, Herbalife Nutrition donated a 12-foot graffiti style mural to the center. It took a week for Hugo Garcia, a designer with Herbalife Nutrition, to paint the mural and it was inspired by the kids who participate in the center's programs. The mural features two African American children, a girl and a boy, with the words, "BEST CHOICE." Now the kids at the center can truly feel at home in their Casa Herbalife as they will recognize their own faces in the mural and the community support they have from those who put it there.

Hugo Garcia explained why he painted it this way, "We wanted to make sure that the children in the painting reflected the children who come to the center. We wanted to make sure we represented their community and put their ideas into the mural." Marilyn Odom, the Director of the Best Choice Center, calls the center's partnership with Herbalife "nothing short of amazing." 

The feeling seems to be mutual! Jenny Perez, the Executive Director of the Herbalife Nutrition Foundation, talks about the partnership they have with the Best Choice Center as an opportunity to give back to the community, one of their core missions. The people who work at non-profits with a social mission must be among the luckiest people.

Herbalife Nutrition is obviously proud of their partnership at the Winston-Salem YMCA's Best Choice Center. The culture at Herbalife Nutrition includes a spirit of giving back to the communities in which they operate. It's been this way since the 1980s when the company was taking its first baby steps toward becoming the largest health company in the world. Yes, it takes a village to raise a child, and Herbalife Nutrition is obviously proud to be part of this village.

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