Three degrees of separation

Through the work we do at the YMCA, I assume that we know how we impact members and staff.  Here is an example of YMCA impact on a person who came to our Y in the capacity of “aide” to a high school aged special needs individual.  As you read this, remember that she was here for her “job”.  She wasn’t using our facilities…she was working, and observing.

Words can not express how grateful I am for all of your kindness, generosity, hospitality and support this school year.  You have all played an integral part in Jacob’s success here at the YMCA.

I’ve never known such a collection of wonderful people who I am so proud to call “friends”.  I will miss each and every one of you this coming year!  But I look forward to stopping by and saying hello from time to time.  I wish you all continued success with this amazing establishment called the “Indian Valley Family YMCA”  Again, Thank you….much love.  Wendy

Another “Y Web” example

I received this email from a volunteer who attended our annual dinner.  Another example of the connections that the YMCA makes over the course of years.

Wanted to say “thank you” for the lovely volunteer recognition gift you gave me at the YMCA Annual Dinner Wednesday night. A wonderful surprise and very much appreciated!
I enjoyed working with you and Ceilia on the Strong Kids Campaign and was happy to learn we are at $90,000.  I am looking forward to attending the wine tasting event next Friday and will hold the positive thought that this will bring us to the goal of $95,000!!  It’s been a long time since I have been actively involved in the Y and I am delighted to be connected again!
Years ago I worked at the Vernon Y running a preschool program and also managed an art program.  Both of my daughters attended Y camps in the summer.  My husband Roger was a Hartford Y member also and attended the Y camps every year growing up in Hartford.
Again, a sincere pleasure to be on your team! Please keep me in mind for other volunteer opportunities. Now that I’m retired, I have more time to give!!
With Regards,
Elsa Arnett-Conley


Wilson Gray ELITE High School Basketball On The Move!

Last week was very busy at Wilson Gray YMCA. On Saturday the boys and I hopped in a 15 passage van and took a road trip to Rhode Island. Our high school
ELITE AAU team participated in a Weekend basketball tournament! I have the honor of coaching this team and it made me proud to watch them work
together through out the meet. On oor down time the team swam and played games at a local golf course! We were admired by many of the teams because of our display of sportsmanship; this opened the door to an invitation to Cape Cod this upcoming weekend! Indeed Rhode Island was lots of fun I can’t wait for our next basketball get-away ! The team and I want to thank Mr. Woods for providing us with dinner while we we were there and for all the awesome volunteers who traveled with us to make this trip possible.






The Web of the Y

As the Indian Valley Family YMCA celebrated its annual dinner last night with over one hundred volunteers, members and staff, it occured to me how many people were not only connected through the YMCA, but through various walks of life.  We have not only become a community within a community…but also an extension of the community that was already in existence.

Below is an example of that connection, as relayed to me via email from last year’s Member of the Year Kristen Naismith:

I wanted to say thank you for inviting me to the dinner last night. I had such a great time listening to everyone’s impact stories such as Sean’s. He is an amazing guy and if you stop and talk to him you can learn a lot from him. I loved watching people be surprised receiving their awards. I am so happy Jacob won the Volunteer award. He is such a pleasant young man and a hard worker. I was so surprised to see Christy with us. I have known her for a long time. She used to be an assistant to my orthodontist. She was my favorite. She is such a sweet caring person and I was sad to hear about her struggle with cancer, but she found the right facility and people who really care about her to help her get back on her feet for sure. I am happy to have seen her again. My favorite part of the night was being with the people that made such an impact to my life a year ago and still to this day, and hearing other people recognize them. They are very special people and I am so thankful for all they have done for me. Even though our facility has grown so much in the past year, they still make me feel like I am their favorite member everyday and that means a lot.  The Y is an amazing place to go to everyday and to see the difference it makes in everyone’s lives whether it be sending a child to camp through our unique fundraisers or kids learning their ABC’s in one of our preschools and people of all ages learning how to swim through lessons. I felt very blessed and thankful for this experience. Thank you!!


Twisters bring home team trophy!!

Great job Twisters!! Good luck in June! Thanks for the update Dave!

FV YMCA Twisters bring home team trophy

 Granby – The Level 5 Farmington Valley YMCA Twisters gymnastics team brings home team trophy after competing at Regional’s in Glenn Falls, New York, May 4 – 7.

In the Level 5 age division of 11 – 11 ½ bringing home individual awards was Cailin Hesketh whose all around score of 36.350 earned 2nd  place and Amy Briggs all around score of 36.250 earned 3rd .   In the next age division, Cara Ferro brought home 2nd with an all around score of 36.700.  Within the same level, Abby Larson and Julia Moody also brought home individual awards for their performance.

 Coming in 1st place in the Level 4 girls 10 – 11 age division was Evelyn Neagoy.   Dasha Sapronova and Kate Beaudry also placed within their age division.

Level 3 girls Eva Pokaski and Erin Moody placed 5th and 7th respectively in the 10 – 18 year old division.

Some of these girls will go on to compete at the National Level which will be held
June 29 – July 3 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.




Even the nurses at CCMC can get down at Camp Jewell!

For the last couple of months CampJewell has been awash with groups. Last weekend was no different, the girl scouts were present, as were the youth groups, but Jewell also welcomed a new group.  The Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) sent along 40+ nurses for a stress free day away from ‘the office’.

The nurses were broken up into 3 separate groups prior to their arrival.  The green, pink and blue teams came to Jewell with wide eyes and large grins, akin to a bandit checking in for their first day of summer camp.  Dressed head to toe in their team colors, the nurses enjoyed a great day of problem solving and teambuilding which helped to bring casual coworkers closer together.

The day’s finale was perhaps the most memorable.  The three teams were led onto a stranded island which was filled with logs, twine, lifejackets and paddles.  They were then given the challenge of getting their whole team off the island with only the equipment provided.

The teams took competition to a whole new level as they desperately worked together to build the raft that would give them ultimate bragging rights.  Hilarity ensued as half built rafts began to tip and fall in the water.  The green team eventually made it across first but every single CMCC nurse went home feeling like a winner after a great day of bonding together within the unique grounds of Camp Jewell.  What a great day we all had & what a great partnership to begin!

Annual Meeting Moving Moments

Last night we held our Annual Meeting here at the East Hartford Y. Every presenter, speech and acknowledgement was proof that we truly are Living Our Cause every single day at our branch.

One particularly Annual Meeting Moving Movement was our benediction that was orated by my dear boss Mike Kerrigan. Mike has this amazing way with words and he can bring to life the pure emotion he was feeling through his stories. He spoke of his Y Story – starting out as a camp counselor and his first experience at the Y. His Executive Director was leading a camp training and asked all the camp staff to put their most important possession that they had with them in a shoe box. Some counselors put car keys, wallets, lifeguarding cards (MK!). The Exec then took this box to her office, left it and returned to the training.

As she continued with her training, Mike’s Exec was finally asked by the counselors where their belongings were. The Exec went back to her office and returned with an empty box. The staff were shocked and upset! Eventually the Exec returned with everyone’s most prized possessions and began explaining how each day, families leave our staff with their most prized possession – their children.

After Mike told us this story, it really truly made me think about my job and my responsiblities as a Child Care Director. Our camp counselors, preschool teachers, Director’s and so many other people each day are responsible for the LIVES of so many children. We are the caring adults, we are the most trusted agents of education and knowledge. We must do the absolute best and beyond to provide, nurture, educate and grow our children and our communities.

Mike, thank you for making me think and for sharing such a powerful Y Story.

Jenn Odorczyk
Child Care Director
East Hartford YMCA

Building Confidence

Last week I had the privilege of watching the Eastbury YMCA SACC program perform a play called “Cindy Eller Play Ball.” I was a spoof of the story of Cinderella. It was performed by 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade participants. I was pleasantly surprised by how well it was done and how all of the kids were not afraid to get on stage and speak into the microphone. Being able to perform in front of others is not easy to do especially as young children. As the show went on, a couple of children forgot a line or two, but the others on stage were right there to help them out. I was so impressed by their poise and confidence on stage. I was surprised to find myself on the edge of my seat to see what would happen next. As the show came to a close, the kids got a standing ovation. I was so proud of all of their hard work, but more importantly proud of the fact that we helped each of these kids to feel confident about performing in front of others.

Living Our Cause in the Dominican Republic

A little over a week after my triumphant return, I’m still beaming with pride at the work I was able to do during my visit to the Dominican Republic.  Not only am I proud of the extreme manual labor I put into the demolition of a shack and the building of a new home, and not only am I proud of my ability to use the skills I’ve learned here in order to build relationships and make new friends, both Dominican and American, but I am proud of how I was able to face a new, unknown, intimidating adventure head on and return stronger, smarter, and more fulfilled for having done so.

Following is a link to a slide show of photos that was created by one of my travel mates, and it’s a terrific snapshot of my experience.  Toward the end, you’ll see me proudly pointing to the (old) Y logo on the side of the house we built – I was very proud to have been chosen to paint that mark as a symbol of the good work we all do.


Erica Donovan
Wheeler Regional Family YMCA