YMCA Presented Highest Honors and Awards during Annual Volunteer Recognition Event
On Tuesday, April 3, the YMCA of Greater Brandywine presented its highest honors including its Service to Youth Award, Distinguished Service Award and Community Partner Award during its Shining Stars Volunteer Recognition Event at the Penn Oaks Golf Club.
In addition, more than two dozen volunteers were recognized for their outstanding service. The YMCA’s 4,823 volunteers provided 42,805 hours of service at the eight branches of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine in 2017. Volunteers serve in all capacities – reading to children in the childcare program, coaching youth sports, organizing food drives, serving on our boards and committees and more.
Service to Youth Award
The YMCA’s Service to Youth Award was presented to the Auto Dealers CARing for Kids Foundation of East Norriton. The Foundation and the YMCA of Greater Brandywine have partnered for the last several years to provide new winter coats to children in need in the community. Annually, the Foundation also supports all 29 local YMCAs, specifically sponsoring the organization’s Annual Healthy Kids Day events. Foundation President David Kelleher will accept the award.
Distinguished Service Award
The YMCA presented Bob Shope of Wayne with the Distinguished Service Award. Shope recently completed a two-year term as Chair of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine’s Board of Directors. He was integral in developing the organization’s current strategic plan, as well as championing many facility upgrades such as the 50 meter pool at the Upper Main Line YMCA.
Community Partner Award
The YMCA’s Community Partner Award was presented to Safeguard Business Systems. Safeguard Employee Wendy Jones’ passion for the YMCA began more the two decades ago and she has shared that passion with Safeguard. “Safeguard allows me to be involved with all of the activities that the Y does. And when they heard about the mission from the staff, they wanted to be involved also,” explains Jones, who lives in Kennett Square. Safeguard is now a corporate sponsor of the YMCA’s STRIDE program and team members attend many of the YMCA’s annual fund-raising events.
Finally, volunteers from each of the eight branches that comprise the YMCA of Greater Brandywine, as well as the YMCA's STRIDE program, were presented with awards for their service in youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.
Will Wood of West Chester received with the Volunteer of the Year Award for his service to the YMCA’s STRIDE program. STRIDE leverages the power of running to build self-esteem, healthy living and self-respect in third- through eighth-grade boys. Wood has served as a STRIDE coach for 10 seasons. During each 10-week season, he facilitates twice weekly roundtable discussions with the boys, leads running sessions and helps each participant set goals and work to achieve them. The 10-week season culminates in a 5K.
“When the season wraps up and we get to the day of the 5K, I find myself overwhelmed by the opportunity to spend the afternoon watching the boys I coached do something incredible,” Wood says. “I have coached other sports and been involved in dozens of activities as a parent. None of them has made this big of an impact on me or my family. I say it every season: I get more out of this than the runners do.” Wood is a Certified General Appraiser and Broker of Record at his own company, the William Wood Company, Chester County’s Oldest Real Estate Firm.
The Brandywine YMCA presented:
- Kate Weidner with the Youth Development Award for her service as a coach for the YMCA’s Girls on the Run program.
- Tammy Wisk with the Healthy Living Award for all she does to promote healthy living and the Y’s group exercise classes. After joining the Y, she lost 50 pounds in less than a year.
- Dan Strassner with the Social Responsibility Award for his support of the YMCA’s community outreach efforts.
The Jennersville YMCA presented:
- Maureen Fazio with the Youth Development Award for coordinating numerous swim team meets.
- Robert Burns with the Healthy Living Award for his service as a coach for the Y’s youth sports leagues and organizing a weekly running group for Y members, as well as the Jennersville YMCA’s Annual 5K event.
- Elizabeth Rampersaud with the Social Responsibility Award for volunteering her time at the Jennersville YMCA’s front desk.
The Kennett Area YMCA presented:
- Ken Burke with the Youth Development Award for managing all logistics for swim meets and serving as a mentor to the swimmers.
- Clint Norris with the Healthy Living Award for promoting the Y and its impact on living a healthy life to all.
- Jim Mercante with the Social Responsibility Award for the numerous committees he serves on, as well as the time he gives to volunteering at YMCA events such as Healthy Kids Day, Healthy Halloween and more.
The Lionville Community YMCA presented:
- Chris McIlroy with the Youth Development Award for his service to the swim team program as an official and in training other parents to assist at meets.
- Archie Lavania with the Healthy Living Award for her commitment to healthy living through group exercise classes and for always helping others in the wellness center.
- Dee Davis with the Social Responsibility Award for stepping up to serve as the active older adult coordinator, when the person previously in the role left. Davis volunteered to step into the role to ensure that all the participants were able to maintain their friendships.
The Octorara YMCA Program Center presented:
- Vicki Fowler with the Youth Development Award for volunteering her time to help with parties and activities.
The Oscar Lasko YMCA and Childcare Center presented:
- Katy Luzzi with the Youth Development Award for always pitching in when needed. She is a member of the Y’s Believe and Achieve Committee, tutors children in the afterschool program and has come to the rescue when extra turkey cookers or someone to play Santa is needed!
- Ryan Michael with the Healthy Living Award. An intern from West Chester University majoring in Exercise Science, Ryan created a physical education program for the Y’s Kindergarten class, as well as a portable activity to engage youth in physical activities.
- Chad Gobel with the Social Responsibility Award. Chad began a resource closet at the Y that enables single moms to clothe their children and provided a homeless man with the opportunity to feel whole again by providing much needed items.
The Upper Main Line YMCA presented:
- Danielle Zimmerman with the Youth Development Award for her service coaching the Upper Main Line YMCA swim team for more than a decade, attending most weekend swim meets.
- Ed Diamond with the Healthy Living Award for his service as a volunteer in our tennis program. Twice a week for three hours, Ed feeds more than 3,500 tennis balls to children on the tennis courts. He also helps kids with conditioning exercises and talks with parents about simple ways to incorporate healthy activities into their lives.
- Randy McCullough and Essa Brandberg with the Social Responsibility Award for servings as co-emcees at the branch’s annual fund-raising dinner. Their sharing of the Y story empowers many to spread the mission of the Y throughout the community at large.
The West Chester Area YMCA presented:
- Hayley Leocha with the Youth Development Award for serving as a library parent in the branch’s Montessori program, as well as on the branch’s Program Committee, where she has offered many program ideas to meet the needs of members. Leocha also participates in the branch’s Thanksgiving food drive and Angel Tree Project.
- Holly Graver with the Healthy Living Award. Holly has volunteered to cycle to send kids to camp, as a running buddy for the Y’s Girls on the Run and STRIDE programs and she has been instrumental in encouraging members to commit to exercising regularly.
- Gina Daddazio with the Social Responsibility Award. Gina began a multiple sclerosis (MS) support group at the West Chester Area YMCA, as well as a TRX class for those living with multiple sclerosis.