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A Community Magazine from the YMCA of Greater Richmond

Vol. 1 • Issue III • Summer 2009

Inside: Giving Gets Wet

YMCA Water Smarts strives to reduce the number of accidental drownings among children

YMCA Bright Beginnings by the Numbers

A look inside how YMCA Bright Beginnings comes together

Spirit, Mind, Body Fatherly bonds

Summer Program Guide

YMCA of Greater Richmond |

Ready, Set, school


We invite you to

a child’s world Help brighten a child’s world by fulfilling our goal of sending 2,400 children back to school with the clothes and supplies they need to succeed.

Donate Become a Backpack Buddy Volunteer Contact your local branch or visit to get involved.

Register today



june – august 09


10 healthy living

2009 Annual Meeting 7

Fatherly Bonds 12

Volunteer Appreciation 7

Helpful Exercises 13


Dads in the Y 13

Giving Gets Wet 8

healthy recipe

YMCA Bright Beginnings by the Numbers 9

Spinach Salad with Honey-Tahini Dressing 14

a YMCA story

kids’ page

Ready, Set, School 10

Mystery Message 15


On the Cover: QueJohna Jones at Chimborazo Elementary School, featured in “Ready, Set, School.” • Photography: Scott Elmquist

YMCA of Greater Richmond |




YMCA member corner

Member Letters Recovering from divorce, depression and general angst, I was dragged to Zumba® classes at the YMCA by a friend. I have avoided classes in the past that required any level of coordination so this was a leap for me. From the first class, Joella (instructor) emphasized that the class was all about us, the participants. She went out of her way to provide encouragement and acceptance of a seriously spastic and aerobically challenged dancer. I soon found that Zumba® was a path, not to enlightenment, but to endorphin heaven. It took me a full six months to be able to follow the steps without being a danger to myself and others. Joella was always there, encouraging me and telling me that, really, no one was looking at my butt. I am at the Y every day Zumba® is offered – and now dance at least three nights as well. I am having a blast with my new hobby/exercise/entertainment and I credit it all to Joella and her ever-supportive and enthused attitude.

I wanted to personally thank you for the opportunity you have created for me and my family in our time of need. I have always been a self-sufficient, independent person that has a hard time asking anyone for help. Your staff was extremely welcoming and friendly and did not judge me as I started to inquire about financial assistance with a membership. That was only the beginning of my excellent experience at the Downtown YMCA. The program to help reduce membership rates that is in place from the YMCA made it so easy to apply for help. I could tell all of the staff truly care about the people they come in contact with. I have recently lost my job due to my company downsizing – it is a construction company that hasn’t gotten many jobs in the past few months. Since I lost my job, my family has cut out any extra expenses. With that sacrifice, my 3-year-old son, Jack, has not been able to take swim lessons or interact with other children since we pulled him from daycare. Since we started our membership about two weeks ago, Jack is registered for swim lessons, has been able to interact with other children in your child watch, and attended a special Valentine’s Day program for children where he was able to make me a Valentine’s card. That card represents much more than just a small holiday. It shows me Jack is happy to be able to do crafts with his new friends he has made and it is a symbol of normalcy. You can check the mail in a few months when I get back on my feet with as large of a donation that I can make to thank the YMCA for what they have done for our family.

Thanks for all that you do,


Tuckahoe YMCA Member

The Short Family

YMCA of Greater Richmond President & CEO Barry M. Taylor Executive Vice President/Operations Dick Lyons Executive Vice President/Operations Membership and Programs Karen Keegan Senior Vice President & CFO Randy Spears Senior Vice President of Philanthropy Nancy Trego

Editorial Board Vice President Marketing & Communications D. Todd Gray Creative Director Marketing & Communications Larissa Tyler Communications Director John Wallace Vice President for Community Development & Programs Tito Luna Association Member Services Director Nancie Wingo Planned Giving Director Jane Hamilton Contributors Bruce Yoder, Evelyn Zak, Shawn West, Ryan Dalton Contributing Photographers Scott Elmquist, Cabay Fine Photography,

Our Values Caring, honesty, respect and responsibility are the basis for all that we do.

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Tell us what you think of YMCA Connect. Please send your comments or suggestions to

YMCA Connect is produced quarterly by the YMCA of Greater Richmond. The YMCA of Greater Richmond is a not-for-profit, charitable organization. Contributions are deductible for income tax purposes to the extent provided by law.

President’s Letter our mission To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.

There are many things about my position as President and Chief Executive Officer for the YMCA of Greater Richmond that I find especially rewarding. But, I so often find that they all come back to one basic principle – the opportunity to help people in need.

children shopping are carefully orchestrated components of this annual endeavor to provide every child with a bright beginning to their school year. In 1906, the YMCA pioneered group swim instruction. This summer, thousands of children will dive, jump, paddle and kick in YMCA pools across the Richmond region. Water Smarts, a collaboration between the YMCA of Greater Richmond and the City of Richmond, is profiled in Giving Gets Wet. Many children do not have access to leisure pool experience and formal swim instruction. This program is one of numerous programs and collaborations our YMCA offers to equip children with essential aquatic safety skills. All indications are that the uncertain economic times we currently face will continue for the near future. Know that whatever fortune or misfortune comes, the YMCA is here for you and your neighbors. Now, more than ever, the YMCA, its programs and services are poised to help individuals, families and communities not just survive, but thrive as we build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. May you be blessed with a safe and happy summer!

Barry M. Taylor President & CEO, YMCA of Greater Richmond

We build strong kids, strong families, strong communities.

YMCA of Greater Richmond |

The father of the YMCA, George Williams (pictured above left), founded the organization with that basic tenet in mind. On June 6, 1844, the first YMCA was organized in London, England to help laboring young men. From its origin, it was committed to providing a sanctuary for people to build a healthy spirit, mind and body. Now, 165 years later, the YMCA is still a refuge amidst the economic challenges our world, nation, state and communities face each day. It is because of our rich history that we as an organization are equipped to respond to the varied and changing needs of our members and the communities we serve. In times of war (dating back to the Civil War), and times of peace and economic prosperity, the YMCA has been a cornerstone of support. In 1992, the YMCA of Greater Richmond started YMCA Bright Beginnings. This year, one of the 2,400 students who participate in our many back-to-school shopping trips will be the 25,000th student served during this program’s 17-year history. In Ready, Set, School, you’ll read the experience of one parent among many whose children benefitted from participating in the program years ago. Now the family gives back as volunteers so that others may know the joy of being a program recipient. As you read YMCA Bright Beginnings by the Numbers you will gain insight into the resources required to deliver this program to its deserving participants. School clothes and shoes; notebooks, crayons, scissors and pencils; brightly colored backpacks; financial support from corporations and individuals; collaborations with social, service and civic organizations; and a volunteer corps of thousands who take


family at the YMCA d n a s d ! rien f h t Enjoy i w a summer of fun

Visit or contact your local branch today! Summer Memberships available now through June 30. Not valid at the Goochland or Powhatan YMCA and Midlothian’s outdoor pool. Summer memberships allow for the purchase of an outdoor pool membership at the Midlothian YMCA.

Midlothian YMCA Outdoor Aquatic Center Two heated, eight-lane, 25-meter pools Convenient, well-equipped food and beverage program Separate diving well Two children’s play pools Interactive water playground Waterslide Register now for an entire summer of fun in the sun! 6

Contact the Midlothian YMCA at 379-5668 for more information and to learn about our affordable rates.

YMCA news The Midlothian Family YMCA is building a new opportunity for you to build a strong spirit, mind and body!

Phase I of our 26,000 square foot expansion opens this summer. Follow the progress at!

On March 4, the YMCA of Greater Richmond held its annual meeting and Planting Seeds of Hope Annual Giving Campaign kickoff. In light of the challenging economic times, the event featured a “Mission Possible” theme. The YMCA has weathered challenging times before and will prevail now as we aim to raise $3.2 million in 2009 to continue building healthy spirits, minds and bodies. Below are the night’s honorees: YMCA Healthy Lifestyles Hall of Fame Richmond Public Schools (pictured top right) Dr. Ron Carey & Dr. Yvonne Brandon Corporate Leadership Award Capital One (pictured bottom right) Carolyn Berkowitz, Rob Alexander, Andrea Wright, Steve DeLuca YMCA Luther Gulick Award Outstanding YMCA Staff Steve Rothwell (pictured bottom left) YMCA Red Triangle Award Tracey A. Ragsdale (pictured below)

calendar june

National Safety Month

Tracey A. Ragsdale

YMCA Summer Camps begin 6/6 YMCA Founding 6/21 Father’s Day 6/23 Public Service Day

july YMCA Bright Beginnings shopping trips begin 7/4 Independence Day – (YMCA branches close at 4 p.m.)

august Fall program registration opens YMCA Bright Beginnings serves its 25,000th student

YMCA of Greater Richmond |

At the YMCA annual meeting on March 4, Tracey Ragsdale was awarded the YMCA Red Triangle Award. The inverted red triangle is an enduring symbol of the YMCA’s commitment to build a strong spirit, mind and body for all. For 12 years, Tracey has been an active volunteer for the YMCA of Greater Richmond and Tuckahoe Family YMCA. Through these tireless activities, she has touched the lives of members across generations. Tracey’s leadership at the branch and association levels coupled with her passion for the YMCA mission and fundraising skills have raised close to $250,000 over the years. Her determined efforts in obtaining these valuable gifts and contributions have helped strengthen kids, families and communities throughout Central Virginia.


YMCA community

Kids at the City of Richmond’s Hotchkiss Community Center participate in Water Smarts.

A group of children, excited and nervous, wriggle on the pool deck as they listen to YMCA Association Aquatics Director Cami Raimo explain the ground rules. Their ages range from 5 to 12. Some have basic swimming abilities, some have only been in a bath tub. Supervisors at 22 community centers run by the City of Richmond have recommended YMCA Water Smarts for one reason: to reduce the number of accidental drowning deaths among children. “I’m so grateful for this collaboration,” says City of Richmond Recreation Special Program Coordinator Lamar Braithwaite. “I can’t think of a better reward than knowing what we’re doing here may help save lives.” As soon as they hear “go” the children are off to their volunteer swim instructor who makes sure their group has the same abilities. Blowing bubbles and head bobs are favorite activities to help settle nerves. They start off slow with swim aides and progress to back floats. By day four most have learned the front crawl, the proper way to react to a drowning victim, how to use a personal flotation device and – usually the group favorite – what to do if they’re on a boat when 8

it capsizes. “Some are a little apprehensive, even scared, but once they see others come out okay they jump in line,” says Forrest Battle, YMCA of Greater Richmond office manager and volunteer Water Smarts swim instructor. “Accidental drowning continues to be the second leading cause of death for children under the age of 14,” says Raimo. “Every year we hear about drowning deaths at the river or the beach. We thought, ‘why can’t we help teach kids how to swim during the summer the same way we do during the school year through our school partnerships?’ So I called the Department of Parks and Recreation in the summer of 2007 and YMCA Water Smarts was born.” In its third year, Water Smarts will serve 340 children, over 60 more than the first two years combined. Funds to support the program come from generous contributions to the YMCA of Greater Richmond’s Planting Seeds of Hope Annual Giving Campaign. For more information about the YMCA Water Smarts program, go online to or call (804) 474-4372.

YMCA community

Bank of America interns at James Center backpack drive

YMCA Bright Beginnings shopping night at Target

Shop with a Cop

Interns distributing backpacks

YMCA Bright Beginnings participant enjoys a night of shopping Altria employees pack backpacks

YMCA Bright Beginnings by the numbers 200 volunteers! Other groups providing more than 100 volunteers included the City of Richmond Police Department and Richmond Sheriff’s Office through the Shop with a Cop program, the Junior League of Richmond and Wachovia. The majority of the volunteers were YMCA members and community residents recruited by each YMCA’s Bright Beginnings coordinator. Backpacks. Many of the 2,400 backpacks given to the children are donated by corporations, groups and individuals at the branches. Every year, Altria employees supply and pack more than 700 backpacks with other major donations coming from Wachovia and the Chesterfield County Department of General Services. Extra backpacks are given to local children who did not get the opportunity to go shopping through schools and police officers. YMCA Bright Beginnings inspires meaningful volunteerism throughout the community. The YMCA knows that clothes don’t make the child, but it believes strongly that children who have the necessities they need to succeed can focus on learning rather than worry about having shoes to wear on the playground and crayons to color their assignments. Through YMCA Bright Beginnings, children start school with these essentials knowing that someone cares about their success. For more information about how you can get involved, contact the YMCA at (804) 474-4347 or go online to

YMCA of Greater Richmond |

Seventeen years since the first shopping trip, the YMCA is preparing to serve its 25,000th student through YMCA Bright Beginnings. What does it take annually to outfit 2,400 children with 5,000 pants, 6,000 shirts, 2,400 supply-filled backpacks, 2,400 pairs of shoes and 10,000 socks and undergarments? Here’s a look at YMCA Bright Beginnings by the numbers: Financial Support. The program benefitted from the generosity of 1,131 donors in 2008. But even with 176 more donors in 2008 than 2007, the effects of the economy were felt. The average donation was $84 less in 2008. Altria Group Inc. was a major sponsor providing $85,000 in 2008. Other top sponsors included the Junior League of Richmond, Children, Inc., Target, Wachovia, Genworth Financial, the Rotary Club of South Richmond, the Western Henrico Rotary Club and Saxon Shoes. Collaboration. The YMCA coordinates agreements with partner agencies, stores and volunteer groups to organize more than 80 trips during the month of August. Target stores provide break rooms, dedicated registers and more than 6,000 photographs of the children and volunteers to take home. The program is coordinated by VP of Community Development Tito Luna, YMCA Bright Beginnings Director Shelly Poole and YMCA Bright Beginnings coordinators at each participating YMCA branch. Volunteers. In 2008, 2,489 children were served through the support of 3,152 volunteers. Altria Group Inc. provided more than


a YMCA story

by Bruce Yoder photography: Scott Elmquist

ready, set,




YMCA of Greater Richmond |

he next-to-youngest of ten sisters, Quelina “Que” Jones was used to hand-me-downs. So, when her daughter QueJohna brought home forms announcing a YMCA Bright Beginnings program that provided school clothes, she assumed the outgrown clothes of some other child would be passed down to her daughter. “I knew I’d be grateful,” said Que. “But I also knew it would be someone giving me something they no longer wanted. It wouldn’t be a sacrifice.” Que graduated early from Armstrong High but didn’t go to college because she had gotten pregnant on prom night. She kept her baby and that baby was growing. As a single mom working at McDonald’s, she didn’t have enough money to dress QueJohna for school or buy the supplies she needed. School was important to Que so she wanted her “baby” to be ready for kindergarten – and she knew she wasn’t. As school drew near, Que was increasingly concerned. “When QueJohna came back from the YMCA Bright Beginnings shopping trip, a great pressure lifted from my shoulders.” Que was amazed. Her daughter didn’t come home with a tired coat that some little girl had worn the year before. She had “new clothes with tags on them. They weren’t too large or too small. They were just right!” The backpack stuffed with school supplies was a hit. QueJohna unpacked and repacked it five times the first night. She admired her new box of crayons, No. 2 pencils and paper to write on, scissors and glue sticks, tissues and a book. Que knew they were basking in the glow of someone’s joyful sacrifice. Nothing delighted QueJohna more than her new pink and white school shoes. She knew she had to wait to wear them, but every day she tried them on. Que recalls telling her, “Baby, those shoes didn’t shrink overnight and your feet haven’t grown since yesterday.” “The night before the first day of school was like Christmas Eve,” Que says. The backpack was placed by the front door with care in hope that the school bus soon would be there. There was no need to call QueJohna to get her up that morning for she was up with the sun and ready to shine. And shine she has. QueJohna has not missed a day of school in the five years since she marched into kindergarten wearing new shoes, new clothes, and carrying her new backpack. She has made the Chimborazo Elementary School scholar or honor roll every grading period. Que attributes much of her daughter’s success to YMCA Bright Beginnings. While Que is grateful for the help her mother, family and QueJohna’s father give her, she looks to YMCA Bright Beginnings and the confidence that came from being prepared on the first day of kindergarten. “Pressure from other kids can be a huge distraction. Young children don’t have the self-confidence to fight peer pressure. Parents at home can help but they cannot compensate for what happens between children.” YMCA Bright Beginnings helped Que care for her daughter at a time that mattered most. Que found employment with Altria (then Philip Morris) soon after QueJohna started school. “A lot of people thought I wasn’t equipped to handle the job,” Que says, “but God qualifies the unqualified.” Que is helping God build her life by working on an on-line college degree while working full-time at Altria. “When I came to Philip Morris, it was a divine appointment.” Que believes this because, in addition to having funds to care for her daughter, she discovered that Altria employees are integrally involved in YMCA Bright Beginnings. In 2008, 320 Altria employees and Philip Morris retirees helped with shopping trips. Fifty-five employees also packed 740 backpacks. Masters of coordination and quality control, Altria employees design systems for packing backpacks for every grade level. After determining the optimal method for packing the supplies into a backpack, they create an assembly line with all supplies laid out in a specific order. Que is proud of the fact that every backpack goes through a quality control check to ensure that no child opens a backpack and discovers that something is missing. She is also proud to be part of the team of volunteers who make the joyful sacrifice of time, talent and treasure to equip other at-risk boys and girls for school and to relieve the pressure other parents feel. QueJohna has learned from her mother that being blessed carries with it the responsibility to be a blessing to others. Along with her mother, she will help some little girl shop for new clothes this summer through YMCA Bright Beginnings. Que says, “I can see her now. We will get to the aisle with girls’ clothes and QueJohna will hold up a blouse and ask, ‘Do you like Hannah Montana? This is a great Hannah Montana outfit.’” Que adds, “I help because I don’t know what would have happened five years ago if someone had said, ‘I don’t have time or money for YMCA Bright Beginnings.’ I’m grateful. My baby is grateful.”


YMCA healthy living

spirit, mind, body

Fatherly Bonds Mark Hyland knows he can carve a stick or sit around a campfire with his son most any weekend or at any location he chooses. However, doing so through the YMCA Y-Guides program has not only nurtured a deep father/son bond, but provided multiple experiences that just don’t pop up in your back yard! A member of the Patrick Henry Family YMCA in Ashland, Mark went to an exploratory meeting at his son Michael’s urging 12 years ago “just to check it out.” What he quickly discovered was a group of dads who wanted to create a sense of community for their kids extending beyond family, men who wanted to model shared values and respect for other men. “Everyone’s always pushing to go somewhere, do something, camp with dads and kids, unplug from the world, just sit and spend time together – it’s time you wouldn’t normally spend if not for this program,” says Mark. 12

Beyond camping, opportunities to perform community service have left an enduring impression on Mark and his children. After connecting with Hanover County Police, Mark’s group became aware of an older woman whose yard was in desperate need of cleaning and clearing. Fathers and sons spent an entire Saturday hauling off truckloads of waste. The home happened to be near the soccer field where the boys play regularly. Now every time they drive to a game, Mark reports that the boys exclaim “there’s Miss Dotty’s house!” with pride for having helped out. Soccer takes a backseat to service! “I encourage everyone to get involved with Y-Guides,” says Mark. Just like the classic camp fire song goes: it only takes a spark to get a fire going. Mark’s spark twelve years ago has blazed many nurturing trails for his family and others!

Dads in the Y, How does being in the Y make you a better Dad?

Goldie Weaver Group Exercise and Wellness Director, Downtown YMCA and James Center YMCA

Ab work on the stability ball

Size of the stability ball is written on the ball – ball size is chosen according to height. 45 cm – youth (4’ 9) 55 cm – 5’ 8 and below 65 cm – 5’ 9 and up 75 cm – for heavier individuals and/or height reaching over 6’ 2

Downtown YMCA member Kimara Davis has two daughters ages 12 and 16, and a 17-year old son. “My son comes to the Y every day to play basketball. I work for CSX and travel a lot; spending time in the YMCA with my children helps bring us closer. My daughters are quite busy with school during the school year, but in the summer they join me at the Y,” says Kimara.

LEVEL 1 – Gently roll back one vertebrae at a time until your lower back is on the ball. When you roll up from your crunch, the top of your glutes should be on the ball.

Ken Filliben works out at the Powhatan YMCA. “I exercise so I can keep up with my kids!” says Ken. “I want to be fit so I’m there for them, and I want to set a good example and show you need to take care of yourself.”

LEVEL 2 – Same as level one, but with hands out to the sides.

ADVANCED LEVEL – Feet up and hands out to the sides. Feet should be more than shoulder width apart for better balance and stability. Feet should not be higher than shoulders. Begin slow pulse movement for increased intensity.

Powhatan YMCA member Tim Llewellyn works out with his son, coaches basketball with his wife and enjoys the pool with all of his family. “The Y has something for everyone,” says Tim.

YMCA of Greater Richmond |

START Position – Sit slightly to front of ball with feet pressed against the wall for balance and stability.


YMCA healthy recipe

Spinach Salad with Honey-Tahini Dressing

Ingredients Dressing 1/2 cup lemon juice 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1/3 cup tahini 2T honey 2 cloves garlic, minced 1t salt Freshly ground pepper to taste Salad 1lb baby red potatoes 1lb skinless chicken tenders 1/4t plus pinch of salt, divided 1/4t freshly ground pepper 1T extra-virgin olive oil 1/2 small clove garlic 4 cups baby spinach 1 cup shelled English peas 1T finely chopped shallot

Directions To prepare dressing, combine lemon juice, 1/3 cup oil, tahini, honey and minced garlic in a medium bowl. Whisk until smooth. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan, add 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Put potatoes in the basket and steam 15 to 20 minutes or until barely tender. When cool to the touch, thinly slice. Meanwhile, toss chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook thoroughly until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a clean cutting board to cool. Shred into bite-size pieces. Season salad bowl by rubbing with 1/2 clove garlic and a pinch of salt. Chop the garlic and add to the bowl along with the potatoes and spinach. Pour 1/2 cup dressing over the potatoes and greens; gently toss to coat. (Cover and refrigerate the remaining 3/4 cup dressing for up to 3 days.) Add peas, shallot and shredded chicken. Gently toss and serve.

[ we want your recipes ] Please submit your favorites. Recipes may be posted on our website and featured in an upcoming issue of YMCA Connect. Send recipes to 14

YMCA of Greater Richmond |


The Emily S. and Coleman A. Hunter Charitable Trust invested $10,000 in improving the lives of children who live along impoverished sections of Route 1. After-school programs at the North Richmond, Downtown, Manchester and Southside YMCAs received funds to keep children safe, offer homework assistance, provide a nutritious snack, and engage students in physical exercise and character building activities. Funds also support YMCA preschool and Head Start classes at the Downtown and North Richmond YMCAs. On a nationally recognized survey tool, 96% of our preschool children in 2007 and 2008 were deemed ready to learn in kindergarten. In Richmond, only 75% of the children were prepared to learn at grade level. The John Randolph Foundation in Hopewell, Virginia awarded a $15,000 grant to the Southside Virginia Family YMCA to provide before- and after-school care for children in Head Start classes and for children enrolled in every elementary school in Petersburg. The YMCA’s 2009 Planting Seeds of Hope Annual Giving Campaign has received remarkable “inside support.” As of March 24, 2009, 801 YMCA staff members contributed $153,710 and 166 Board members contributed $304,798 to ensure that the YMCA remains open to all.

YMCA of Greater Richmond 2 West Franklin Street • Richmond, VA 23220 804.649.9622 •


non-profit u.s. postage paid richmond, va permit no. 2077

YMCA Connect Magazine Summer 2009  
YMCA Connect Magazine Summer 2009  

A Community Magazine from the YMCA of Greater Richmond