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New Edition Vol. 1 • Issue 4 • Summer 2011

YMCA Connect A Community Magazine from the YMCA of Greater Richmond

City children are smart about water safety

City smarts City smarts | Fit for love | Getting over the wall | Between home and heaven A slam-dunk for the Petersburg Y | Summer program guide

Send A Kid to Camp Ensure every child Experiences the magic More than 200 children who attend camp for six weeks or more need financial assistance. Your gift of $250 will provide two weeks of fun at camp. Learn more about Y camps at

Bright Beginnings Preparing Students for Success The Y makes strengthening our communities our cause. We strongly believe that children who have the necessities they need to succeed can focus on learning rather than worrying about having shoes to wear on the playground and crayons to color their assignments. Contact Shelly Poole at 804.474.4347 to find out how you can give back and help our youngest neighbors whether it’s by making a donation, volunteering or becoming a backpack buddy. 2


June - August





Many children in Water Smarts have never had swimming lessons

News Volunteers Leading the Y’s 6 Brand Revitalization The Y in Mechanicsville


Petersburg Family YMCA


Hopewell and Prince George County YMCA


Annual Meeting Awards


Calendar 7

for social responsibility City smarts

To make a donation to the YMCA of Greater Richmond, visit


For youth development 8

for healthy living Fit for love


Getting over the wall


A slam-dunk for the Petersburg Y


summer program Guide


Between home and heaven 16 Recipe 18

On the Cover: The Water Smarts program teaches children water acclimation, basic swimming skills, water and personal safety.


The Y Endowment is helping our community Endowment Distributions for FY 2010: $224, 352

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 for Philanthropy Nancy Trego


YMCA Connect Editorial Board

24% 8%

Vice President Marketing & Communications D. Todd Gray Communications Director Shelby Little Community Development Director Tito Luna

18% 34%

Planned Giving Director Jane Hamilton Tuckahoe Membership and Wellness Director Steve Sylvester YMCA Connect

2% Youth Teen Family Memberships Child Care

Aquatics Community Development Leadership & Development

Contributors Valerie Callahan, Ryan Dalton, Stephanie Maddox, Clay Mottley, Bruce Yoder, Evelyn Zak Designers Valerie Callahan, Robin Payne Photographer Scott Elmquist

The YMCA of Greater Richmond is ready to help you realize the greatest benefits from your planned gifts to the Y.


For more information, please contact Jane Hamilton at 804.474.4332 or

Contact 804.649.9622 or

YMCA Connect is produced quarterly by the YMCA of Greater Richmond. The mission of the Y is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all. The YMCA of Greater Richmond is a nonprofit, charitable organization. Contributions are deductible for income tax purposes to the extent provided by law.

President’s Letter

We are fortunate to have pillars of this community volunteer their time and skills to lead our organization. Our Y brand revitalization would not be possible if it weren’t for the contributions of Mark Fernandes and Abby Farris Rogers. Also, in the “News,” you’ll see how the Y is responding to the changing needs of our community by updating and expanding existing branches and taking steps toward two new branches in neighborhoods asking for Y services. Every day, each of our Ys is full of individuals and groups who accomplish amazing things because they are a part of the YMCA. I have spent more than three decades of my career as a part of this movement. And few things bring a smile to my face more than seeing a child learn to swim and build his or her self-confidence. I encourage you to read about our collaboration with the City of Richmond that enables children to feel freedom in the water. Molly Willey and Makita Byrd have very different stories. But, both of these remarkable women turned their Y experiences into motivation that inspires others and has led them to become wellness professionals in this Y. At the Petersburg Family YMCA, basketball – a game created by George Naismith at the YMCA – provides muchneeded youth recreation for the community. Participants take pride in the league they have helped build and now seek out opportunities to invite their friends.

Every year, I am astonished at the number of teens from the YMCA of Greater Richmond who work to attend the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly Leaders School. Throughout the year, their academic, volunteer and fitness accomplishments qualify them to attend this elite Y program. Hansen Li shares his first-hand account of this experience and what this one week each year means to him. As you read this issue of “Connect,” I invite you to reflect upon your recent, personal accomplishments. And if this summer you are seeking a new challenge or simply wanting to make time for yourself, I encourage you to look at the array of opportunities the Y offers and speak to a membership or wellness professional at the branch in your neighborhood.

Barry M. Taylor President & CEO YMCA of Greater Richmond

To make a donation to the YMCA of Greater Richmond, visit

I have seen the word accomplishment defined as something done admirably or creditably. That one word summarizes the Y’s news and stories that you will read about in this issue of “Connect.”


news Volunteers Leading the Y’s Brand Revitalization Mark Fernandes serves as Chief Leadership Officer at Luck Stone Corporation and Abby Farris Rogers is principal of Benedetti & Farris, LLC. And, in their spare time, they are committed volunteers who have been instrumental in the YMCA of Greater Richmond’s adoption of the YMCA of the USA brand revitalization. Mark brings years of expertise as a brand innovator and Abby Farris Rogers and Mark Fernandes has spent much of the past year sharing his experience with the Y. He has worked with the staff and leadership to build an organization of professionals who represent our brand by embodying the behaviors of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility in every interaction. As the Board of Directors’ Marketing Committee Chair, Abby has been a key driver since our Y chose to be an early adopter of the brand revitalization and complete its transition by December 31, 2011. Working with the board and staff, Abby’s leadership has driven the timeline and establishment of priorities for brand implementation throughout the organization. Her committee’s work has focused on how this opportunity will communicate that the Y’s mission is unchanged and a clear focus on programs for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility reinforces a promise to strengthen the foundation of this community.

Introducing the Petersburg Family YMCA


The Southside VA Family YMCA celebrated the completion of nearly $900,000 worth of facility renovations – and a new branch name on March 30. The renovations expanded the child watch area, updated the locker rooms, increased our energy efficiency, improved the multi-purpose room, and provided new steam room and saunas. These renovations will allow the Y to better serve Petersburg and a growing membership. In acknowledgement of our updated facility and greater ability to serve as a community center, we changed the Southside Virginia Family YMCA branch name to the Petersburg Family YMCA.

Hopewell and Prince George County YMCA We are excited to announce the generous donation of a 15-acre land tract in Prince George County that will serve as the future site of a YMCA branch. The gift comes as a result of efforts by a local YMCA steering committee. They determined the best location for a future Y and made the request for the land. Harold Williams saw the value that a YMCA branch in the Prince George area could bring to residents. “I understand the need for YMCA programs and services in our area, and how this can improve the quality of life for our residents and families. I wanted to be a part of that,” he says. A feasibility study, which will determine the framework for a capital fundraising campaign, is currently underway in the Prince George and Hopewell area.

Manchester Pool Opens Soon The Manchester Family YMCA is excited to announce that its new aquatics facility will be open by mid-June. The pool is geared toward families and also provides lap lanes and a water fitness area for adults. A beach-entry ramp provides handicap access and carbonation-like bubbles will captivate young children. Water fitness classes and swim lessons will resume in June.

The Y in Mechanicsville Development is underway for a new YMCA branch at Rutland in Mechanicsville. Located on Route 301, this branch will provide YMCA programs and services for all ages such as: child watch, youth sports, wellness and group exercise. The new branch is expected to open in November.

The Y is coming to Mechanicsville at the Rutland Business Park

2011 Annual Meeting Awards

Healthy Living Hall of Fame Award We are privileged and honored to recognize Bon Secours Richmond Health System with the YMCA’s 2010 Healthy Living Hall of Fame Award. As a partner, Bon Secours has helped the Y make significant contributions to the Richmond community, some of which include: our alliance in Church Hill at Martin Luther King Middle School where we combine our GirlForce with Bon Secours’ licensed dietitian’s expertise; our combined outreach at the Peter Paul Development Center; capital campaign support of the YMCA in Midlothian; and partnering to produce 2011 Healthy Kids Day and Walk. We are thankful for Bon Secours’ impact on healthy lifestyles in our community and their continued partnership with the Y. Corporate Leadership Award The standard of corporate responsibility upheld by Tak Tent, LP reflects the social conscience of its founders. As a beacon of light for Chesterfield County and the Midlothian community, Tak Tent supports endeavors that enrich the entire community without being restricted to a specific focus such as history, the arts or youth development. They do it all and recognize how varied opportunities contribute to a community’s quality of life. Tom and Carolyn Garner accepted the award on behalf of Tak Tent, LP.


june National Children’s Day – June 12 National Men’s Health Week – June 13-19 Father’s Day – June 19 National Safety Month

2011 Annual Meeting award winners: (left to right) Tom Garner, Steve Darrah, Michael Robinson, David Kunnen, Jim Hartough

YMCA Triangle Award The inverted triangle is an enduring symbol of the YMCA’s commitment to build a strong spirit, mind and body for all. For over 12 years, Jim Hartough has been an advocate, volunteer and leader for the YMCA of Greater Richmond. He currently serves as the Growing Stronger Together Campaign Co-Chair. While Jim’s passion for the Y has resulted in astounding growth over the last decade, his foresight and leadership in the areas of planned giving and capital expansion ensures that programs and services will be here for many more decades.

Patrick Henry Gym Tips Off The new Patrick Henry Family YMCA gymnasium, made possible by a one million dollar gift from the Jane and Arthur Flippo Foundation, will open June 15. This latest addition to the facility will provide the first public gymnasium in the area and allow the Y to develop youth sports for skill development and recreational leagues.

july National Make a Difference to Children Month Independence Day – July 4 – All branches closed Everybody Deserves a Massage Week – July 17-23

To make a donation to the YMCA of Greater Richmond, visit

Luther Gulick Award Each year, the YMCA of Greater Richmond recognizes an outstanding staff member in honor of YMCA leader Luther Gulick, who created the symbolic YMCA triangle to represent unity in spirit, mind and body. David Kunnen, from the Patrick Henry Family YMCA, received the award for 2010. In 2005, David took his first job at the Y, serving as an accountant in the Association Office. He is currently Operations Director at the Downtown YMCA. David is characterized by his peers as a true servant leader and operates by the highest standards. He puts others first and always acts with integrity, honesty and humility. Thank you and congratulations, David!

august American Indian Heritage Month National Immunization Awareness Month America’s Night Out Against Crime – August 2


Social Responsibility Giving back and providing support to our neighbors

City smarts Every year Richmond youngsters gather with friends and family at the James River or their community pool to seek relief from summertime heat. Unfortunately, many of these children are particularly vulnerable to waterrelated incidents. “Drowning continues to be the second leading cause of accidental death for children under the age of 14,” says YMCA of Greater Richmond Aquatics Director Cami Raimo. Five years ago, motivated by the staggering statistic and news headlines of accidental drownings, Cami started Water Smarts, a partnership between the Y and the City of Richmond. “The kids really love Water Smarts; it is one of the most popular programs we have. They love the water and this is a great opportunity for them to learn to be safe in the water,” says former City of Richmond Special Program Coordinator Lamar Braithewaite, who worked with Water Smarts for two summers. Children ages 5-12 who participate in the city’s Community Center programs attend Water Smarts at the Hotchkiss pool. They receive four, 45-minute lessons which teach water acclimation, basic swimming skills, water and personal safety. “We’re not so much teaching stroke development to these kids but teaching confidence and trust,” says Cami. Water Smarts participant Baily Fisher needed the extra encouragement to overcome his fear of the water. In the past, he had taken swim lessons outside of the Y but benefited very little from them. “Because of his fear of the water, they just set him aside, so he didn’t have much participation, which was fine with him because his preference would have been to be left alone. But of course we wanted him to learn to swim,” says Julie Fisher, Baily’s grandmother. It was no easy task to convince Baily to trust the instructors. “When Bailey first came to the program he was very, very afraid of the water, to the point where he didn’t even want to put his bathing suit on. And after convincing him to sit down on the edge of the pool and get in, the next step was one-on-one bonding and building the trust,” says Cami. Like most kids in the program, Baily may not have mastered swimming but he did gain courage and skills that could save his life. “By the end of his session he learned to trust us enough to let us put him on his back for the back float,” says Cami. Julie says he now shows no hesitation about getting in the pool and is not as averse to the idea of swim lessons as he had been in the past. She attributes his success in the program to the quality of his instructors. “They were encouraging and uplifting, and he responded to that,” says Julie. All Water Smarts instructors are YMCA employees who have volunteered their time to the program serving over 700 children since 2007. Funding for Water Smarts comes from the YMCA Strengthening Communities Annual Giving Fund. For more information visit


To make a donation to the YMCA of Greater Richmond, visit

Many children in Water Smarts have never had swimming lessons


healthy living Improving the nation’s health and well-being

Mike and Mollie Willey first met at the Downtown Y


Mollie and Mike’s eyes first met in the fall of 2001 when she was on the elliptical and he was heading for the treadmills. They spoke a couple of times, questioning if they knew each other from college, or maybe their hometowns – something seemed so familiar, but they could not find the connection in their past. Time passed with nothing more than bashful greetings exchanged in the evenings at the Downtown YMCA. “It turns out he had been trying to get up the guts to ask me out since our first conversation,” says Mollie Willey, whose face lights up as she tells the story. “I remember very clearly I was at the water fountain and I knew he was getting ready to try to ask me out, and I got nervous and ran away” she says. Mollie was so shy that she dodged Mike every time he tried to say more than hello. “He finally got me at the sign-in clipboards for the machines [where the dry-erase system is now].” Mollie laughs, saying he didn’t have anything to write her number on, so he tore off a little corner of the sign-in sheet and wrote down her information. Their first date was to Sidewalk, a restaurant in the Fan neighborhood, and they came back to the Y for a second date – a game of racquetball. “I think he let me win. Neither one of us really knew how to play; we were just running around,” she says. Mike and Mollie married in July 2006 and now have a one-year-old daughter named Bea. They have become the quintessential YMCA family. Mike uses the wellness center at the North Richmond Community Center YMCA after work, while Mollie and Bea take advantage of the pool and wellness facilities Downtown and at the Tuckahoe YMCA. Mollie has lost a total of fifty pounds since joining the Y, which she attributes to watching her diet, exercising and being motivated to change her behavior. “I’m the healthiest now that I’ve ever been in my life,” she says.

To make a donation to the YMCA of Greater Richmond, visit

Fit for love

UPDATE: Mollie completed the YMCA’s Group Exercise Instructor Certification this spring and you can find her leading classes now at the Tuckahoe, John Rolfe and North Richmond Ys.


healthy living Improving the nation’s health and well-being

Getting over the wall Makita Harper Byrd stormed out of her doctor’s office in a fit of rage after hearing him say she was morbidly obese. It was 2003, and Makita was an insulin-dependent diabetic who tipped the scales at 350 pounds. “I felt like he was trying to embarrass me because most of my family is morbidly obese; we were all 350 pounds or more. Everybody took medication,” she says. When Makita left the doctor’s office she broke down and cried in her car; then she returned to see him. “I remember he said, ‘You’re angry? Well I hope you’re angry enough to do something about it.’” He told her she probably had six months to live before she would have a heart attack unless she changed her eating habits and got active. “Today I can proudly say that I am no longer taking any prescriptions or medications,” said Makita. Following her doctor’s advice, Makita joined the Petersburg Family YMCA, started taking water aerobics four times a week and watched what she ate. She lost 30 pounds. Then a wellness coach showed her how to use the treadmill and other cardio machines. She was on a roll, but briefly lost motivation and didn’t come to the Y for a week. The staff noticed and gave her a call to check on her. “That phone call changed my life,” says Makita. “I was floored and it motivated me to say, ‘OK these people care about me’. From that point forward, it was on!” Makita worked out consistently in the wellness area and started attending kickboxing and step classes. She lost another 75 pounds over a two-year period. “I attribute the weight loss to God’s grace, my endurance and the YMCA,” says Makita. “The staff and members were supportive and friendly. Even at my heaviest, I was never discriminated against nor did I feel out of place. Everyone has always been encouraging and concerned about me as a person.” Makita has lost over 155 pounds since she joined the Y and she is using her experience to motivate others. She completed the YMCA’s Group Exercise Instructor Certification this spring and especially enjoys teaching cycling because she sees the rides as a metaphor for life. “I tell my classes that in life we all deal with issues – there are going to be hills, curves, pit stops and brick walls – but you don’t stop. You hit a wall and you get over it. Life is tough, but this is a moment that we have all been given to push forward to go to the finish line.” She laughs, saying that they sometimes refer to her as a drill sergeant. “I am determined to inspire and encourage others to live a healthier life and that is why I became an instructor for the Y. I push them because, in losing 155 pounds, I had to push myself.”


To make a donation to the YMCA of Greater Richmond, visit

Makita Harper Byrd has lost over 155 pounds since joining the Y. She now motivates other members to reach their wellness goal as a group exercise instructor at the Petersburg Family Y.


Youth development Nurturing the potential of every child and teen

Seventeen-year-old Coach Shawn Mason (center left) with members of his spring season team


“Basketball is their life; they live and breathe basketball, and that’s what keeps them out of trouble,” says Program Director Justin Harris. Last year he developed a competitive basketball league at the Petersburg Family YMCA for high school students in the Petersburg/tri-cities area. This program fills a tremendous need for youth recreation in the community. “This is really exposing the Y to a group of kids who need help. They benefit from positive outlets and need to participate in a structured and organized way,” says Executive Director Floyd Johnson. While the top-ranked Petersburg Varsity Basketball team is for elite players, the Y’s program offers players of all levels a chance to be competitive and work on their game. “Some people were skeptical of the kids’ behavior when we said we were going to do this. They feared it would be too rowdy of a crowd, but we found it was quite the opposite,” says Floyd. During the first season, eight teams gathered at the Y, some traveling from Sussex, Dinwiddie, Matoaca, Colonial Heights and Prince George. “Being involved gave them responsibility,” says Justin. Not only did they organize practices and recruit teammates, but the players stepped up and filled responsibilities when student volunteers left for summer vacation. One particular 17-year-old, Shawn “Tank” Mason, stood out from his peers because of his dedication to the league. He was a player, volunteer statistician and referee, plus he offered to coach in the fall league. Tank became one of the top coaches and a great team motivator. “He wants to see the Y do well; he wants the basketball program to do well. He even wore a suit to the last game,” says Justin. Tank coaches his peers off-court as well, encouraging them to keep up their grades and stay out of trouble. “I came from a rough part of Petersburg and now I’m about to go off to college. I’m proof that you don’t always have to be a product of your environment,” he says. He invites students from his school to come to the Y for the monthly Teen Night, an open-house for all teens to have fun in a safe and supervised environment. Teen Night also introduces local youth to Y programs such as the basketball league, which had over 100 participants in 2010. “There’s so much good happening in this town, and we’re becoming a bigger part of that now,” says Justin.

To make a donation to the YMCA of Greater Richmond, visit

A slam-dunk for the Petersburg Y


Youth development Nurturing the potential of every child and teen

Between home and heaven Each year the participants in our Leaders’ Club at YMCA of Greater Richmond branches pursue incredible personal goals to qualify for the annual Blue Ridge Mountain Leaders’ School held at the Y’s Blue Ridge Assembly Center in North Carolina. “I marvel each year at the transformation that occurs for the students who attend Blue Ridge for the first time and the growth I see in the leaders who return,” says Carol Butterworth, the YMCA of Greater Richmond’s Teen Leadership Director. “I have taught Character Development during the Leaders’ School and the opportunity the students have to challenge themselves results in many leaving with a better understanding of who they are and the role they play in their families, school and community.” Midlothian Leaders’ Club Chaplain, Hansen Li, never hesitates to share why Blue Ridge Mountain Leaders’ School rocks his world. As my friend Chevas Valdez says, ‘Blue Ridge Leaders’ School is a middle point between a place called home and a place called heaven. In my opinion, it is an amazing place where people can be themselves instead of trying to be someone they aren’t. In essence, and not to sound cliché, BRLS is a magical place – it may be even more magical than Disney World itself.’ Remember, Blue Ridge Leaders’ School is a school and not a camp. Before being admitted into BRLS, a leader must uphold several responsibilities including volunteering 100 or more hours of community service each year and attending YMCA Leaders’ events. Every hour I dedicated to the Leaders’ Club and to my Y has been well spent. During our week at this school, we take five classes every day. Classes vary in subject such as working with 5-12-year-olds to Science of Fitness to Character Development to Volleyball class. Each class stresses the importance of companionship, character and leadership. After finishing all of our classes, each student attends a clinic, which varies between sports, dance and specialty trainings. With all of these activities happening every moment of every day, not only do we build leadership but we also build our own physique. At the end of each day, Vespers is held while the whole school, some 900 attendees, sit and watch the sun slowly descend behind the mountains. Each morning devotion is so moving that it’s difficult to hold back tears. Stories, poems and anecdotes from the lives of our peers are shared. Love fills the atmosphere and all animosity in the world seems to be blocked from this spot on earth. Carol sees an opportunity for all students, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all our youth had an opportunity every day to experience the level of confidence and achievement shared by the students at the Blue Ridge Mountain Leaders’ School.”


To make a donation to the YMCA of Greater Richmond, visit

Midlothian Leaders’ Club Chaplain, Hansen Li, has made lasting friendships and memories at Blue Ridge Mountain Leaders’ School


Healthy living

Black Sea Bass with Spinach and Almonds Eating lean, white fish such as Black Sea Bass is an excellent way to eat beneficial fats and be good to your heart. Black Sea Bass is related to Grouper and is abundant in the Chesapeake Bay this time of year. You can alter this recipe to suit your tastes; white fish are complimented by acidic flavors such as citrus or vinaigrette dressings. Ingredients: 2 TBSP olive oil 15 oz. bag of spinach Salt and pepper to taste 1/4 C chopped almonds 1/2 small yellow onion, minced 1/4 C white wine 2 lbs. skinless, sea bass fillets 1. Preheat oven to 425°. Brush 1 TBSP of olive oil on to surface of casserole dish or oven-safe sautÊ pan. 2. Layer spinach thinly so it covers the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle with minced onion. 3. Lay the fish fillet(s) on top of the vegetables, cover with almonds, and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until the fish is flakey in the middle and thoroughly cooked.

[ we want your recipes ] Please submit your favorites to

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

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

making a difference At the heart of Tak Tent, LP, the YMCA of Greater Richmond’s 2011 Corporate Leadership Award winner, stand Tom and Carolyn Garner. The Garner family’s generosity to the Midlothian Family YMCA is deeply rooted. When the land on which the Y facility sits was little more than woodland prime for development, the Garners donated 20 acres. Now the Midlothian Y is surrounded by a sea of rooftops, each representing a person or family who could learn, grow and thrive at the Y. In every phase of building or expanding the Midlothian Y facility, the Garners or Tak Tent (or both) have been major donors, including contributing another five acres of land. They help the Y to better serve its Midlothian neighbors. Today, Tom Garner serves on both the YMCA of Greater Richmond Board of Directors and the Midlothian Family YMCA Board of Management, a clear indicator of a generosity that gives time, talent and treasure.

(left to right) Nancy Trego, Senior Vice President for Philanthropy, Carolyn and Tom Garner, Ray Moore, Chairman of the 2011 Strengthening Communities Fund and YMCA of Greater Richmond Board of Directors member

YMCA Connect Magazine Summer 2011  

A Community Magazine from the YMCA of Greater Richmond