As we begin another program season at the Y, I should note that last month I marked my second year as CEO of the West Cook YMCA.
It has been both a humbling and a very enriching experience to have the opportunity to be at the helm of this Y at this time. These past two years have been marked by our version of the three Rs-"renewal, repositioning and reinventing" ourselves to better serve our communities.
I very much appreciate the confidence placed in me by the Board of Directors and the opportunity to continue to serve our ten west suburban communities as President and CEO of this YMCA.
Our recent Annual Meeting, which marked the West Cook YMCA's 113th year of service to the west suburban community, was a most encouraging event, as we reflected on highlights of the past very productive and profitable year for this Y.
Most notably, I reported on the success of scores of new programs and initiatives to advance youth development, healthy living and the West Cook YMCA's commitment to social responsibility that are enjoyed by our members.
This past year saw a 10 percent growth in membership, which is a significant accomplishment in these times and in this very competitive environment.
We also honored our retiring board of director members, elected new directors and feted a dedicated group of Y supporters with Spirit, Mind & Body awards.
Board Chairman Perry Vienti acknowledged the many contributions made to the West Cook YMCA by retiring board members: Ayesha Akhtar, an educator who is associated with the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago; David Phelps, President, CEO of effectus, LLC; Jean Pogge, President, Ecotrust of Canada and Roberto Sepulveda, Manager, Diversity & Inclusion, United Stationers.
Michael Carioscio, Chief Information Officer of Oak Park River Forest High School, and Jessica Bullock, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Presence Health, were elected to board terms expiring in 2017 and 2019 respectively.
Paul Koester, President of the Koester Group and Scott Yen, M.D., a physician who practices at the Chicago Medical Group and who is Medical Director for Residency Programs at West Suburban Medical Center, were elected to the Board for second terms, both expiring in 2019.
Spirit, Mind & Body awards were made to a group of individuals and one business organization in recognition of dedication, support and advancement of the West Cook YMCA's many programs throughout the past year.
Awardees included: Andrew Zhou, Youth of the Year; the Falconer and Aspin families received the Family of Year award. Others were Grissel Blackmon, Volunteer of the Year; Forest Printing, Organization of the Year; Elizabeth Lopez, Director of Youth Development, Director of the Year; and Rebecca Boblett, Employee of the Year.
Late last month, our first LIVE STRONG at the YMCA class completed a 12-week program and graduated.
This free 12-week program for cancer survivors who wish to reclaim their health in a safe and supportive environment is part of a partnership between the LIVESTRONG Foundation and YMCA of the USA that is being conducted at some 400 other Ys around the U.S.
As an added bonus, the program is accompanied by a one-year complimentary West Cook YMCA Household membership so participants can bring a family member who can accompany them, participate in a class or an individual workout.
Our second, a daytime group, has already begun. A third class in the evenings will begin in July.
For information on assessments for future scheduled sessions, contact Laura Olszewski, Healthy Living Director, 708.434.0208 firstname.lastname@example.org.
LIVE STRONG at the YMCA is all about health, not disease.
The group welcomes adults who have been in remission from cancer for years as well those who are currently in treatment and who find themselves in transition between completing treatment and shifting to feeling physically and emotionally strong enough to return to their normal lives or what is often termed, a "new normal."
The goals of this research-based program are to improve strength and endurance, increase flexibility and day-to-day activities, reduce therapy side effects, prevent unwanted weight fluctuations and improve self-esteem and energy levels.
Groups of six to twelve participants meet in two 75-90 minute classes a week led by two certified LIVE STRONG instructors who work with the group in a safe and welcoming environment. Here are some very compelling testimonials from some of the first LIVE STRONG class' remarkable participants:
"I'm a 12- year Hodgkins Lymphoma survivor who has been able to benefit greatly from joining the LIVE STRONG Program at the Y even years after my diagnosis. I've gained strength and stamina and most importantly, a real comfort level when I walk into the gym.
The Y trainers are wonderful about adapting the program for each survivor according to their needs and abilities. It's also very encouraging for the group of cancer survivors to support each other. This is a great program that I recommend to any cancer survivor who has their doctor's approval to get moving again." Leigh Eicher
"The LIVE STRONG program at the YMCA couldn't have happened at a better time for me--a two-time cancer survivor.
"Before beginning LIVE STRONG at the YMCA, I had never participated in any exercise regimen or physical activities whatsoever. Six months ago, I was taking medication for borderline diabetes and was one month on hypertension meds. After just three-four weeks of movement, exercise and drinking more water, my numbers changed drastically. I'm no longer on meds for either condition.
"I used to think I couldn't handle group sessions because I always felt no one could possibly understand what I've been through. The trainers, participants and YMCA staff have truly made a positive impact in my life.
"The LIVE STRONG at the YMCA program has helped me in so many ways to adjust my lifestyle. I decided to walk everywhere locally. I have so much more energy with my granddaughter at the playground. I just want to say, 'thank you, thank you for this opportunity!'" -Cashan Hopson
"For starters, I can now sleep on my left side due to the training exercises I received from Laura and Sergio--and that's only the beginning.
'I now find myself walking head up, shoulders back, and chest out. This has been a great program and has gotten me back into actually wanting to exercise. Something I thought the cancer had taken away. Thank you, Laura and Sergio, you're the best. If you find a way to extend this program, count me in." -Joe Sarpy
With summer upon us, we're focused on Monday, June 13, Camp Magellan, our Summer Day Camp for ages 5 to 13 plus a Counselors in Training program for kids 13 and older, opens as does the Fred Hampton Family Aquatic Center and Pool in Maywood.
New this year, the Summer Day Camp will be headquartered at nearby St. John Lutheran in Forest Park. Campers will have an opportunity for field trips, visits to a nearby forest preserve, swim at the Fred Hampton Family Aquatic Center, plus play games and sports.
The Y's Summer Day Camp program is focused on helping kids build memories of great experiences while they make friends, accomplish new skills and enjoy a sense of belonging.
This year, for a modest additional fee, we're offering a series of Summer Boost programs in S.T.E.M. (science technology, engineering and mathematics), Dance and Drama, Visual Arts, Cooking and Strong4Life, a program of physical fitness and nutrition.
Click here to view a video about the Summer Day Camp: http://www.westcookymca.org/main/summer-camp
Details about Camp Magellan are in the Summer Camp Brochure which is linked here: http://www.westcookymca.org/clientuploads/CFT%20Docs/2016SummerCampBrochure_v2.pdf
At 4:00 p.m. on Monday, June 13 we'll have an Open House Party and Reception with all the trimmings at the Fred Hampton Family Aquatic Center and Pool in Maywood.
New this year, in cooperation with the Village of Maywood, we're offering free swim lessons for adults and children. These will be a series of eight 45-minute sessions taught by YMCA certified swim instructors. In consultation with local officials and community members, it became apparent that it would be most important to offer this lifelong skill of swimming to adults and youth in the Maywood and Bellwood communities.
We've supported this initiative with an area-wide targeted direct mail campaign and follow up by a phone-a-thon to encourage use of the pool and participation in the free swim lessons for adults and children.
Improvements to the pool this year include new deck furniture, new partitions and new drideck flooring in the bathhouse and a freshly painted floor.
The pool will remain open through Labor Day, Monday, September 5.
Finally, this is the time of year we launch the Y Member and Community phase of our Annual Support Campaign. This year's goal is $15,000, which is 10 percent of the overall campaign goal of $150,000 for scholarships to the West Cook YMCA for qualified community members.
President & CEO