Regional YMCA distributes awards

The River Valley Regional YMCA recognized those who have volunteered and supported its five Y branches Thursday at its annual dinner at the Genetti Hotel.

“It’s not so much about the building, or even the staff, but it’s really about how the Y changes people’s lives,” said David Stone Jr., corporate board chairman.

Awards were given to volunteers, organizations and those who were an inspiration throughout the past year.

More than 25 individuals and organizations were honored at the event. Dave Fagerstrom, CEO and president, said without that support, the Y would not be able to offer so many programs and services.

“The YMCA organization is built on volunteerism and community support,” he said.

Many who found support from each of the Y’s told their stories during the event, as well.

Lisa Lewis, who joined the Bradford County branch in 2007, told the audience how even after being diagnosed with breast cancer, she still would go to the Y in order to participate in Zumba.

“I would have chemo therapy on Monday. I would go to Zumba on Tuesday,” she said.

Joel Kinney used his membership at the Jersey Shore branch to rehabilitate after being in a serious car crash in 2009.

“(Y staff members) have been a tremendous asset to me,” he said.

Both Lewis and Kinney noted how it no longer was a Y to them but a family. Lewis, who also received Bradford’s inspiration recognition, said she constantly was supported by her “Y family.”

“They are no longer my friends,” Kinney said, “they’re my family.”

Children also shared their stories during the night.

Pat Feaster, whose daughter Emma took swimming lessons at the Williamsport branch, said that when Emma first came to the Y, she wasn’t able to swim.

“Since that time, she learned to swim like a shark,” Pat Feaster said.

Emma now swims at the Y at least four times a week.

Alan Weed learned leadership and other social skills from his time at the Tioga County branch, said his mother Diane.

She also said that the Y offers a space for Alan to be safe when she is working.

“As a single mom, I have a safe place,” Diane Weed said. “On a lot of levels, him specifically, (the Y) has offered a lot.”

And Mark Casson, executive director of the Eastern Lycoming branch, spoke about Connor Mattie who successfully ran a 5K race, even though he has anxiety and a fear of crowds.

Although Fagerstrom hears these success stories every day, he said it’s important to have the public hear them, as well.

Fagerstrom said each year the Y is changing but always is looking to serve the community.

“The Y is an alive, vibrant organization that is constantly making a difference in the community we live,” he said.

The following awards were given out by the specified branches:

River Valley Regional YMCA:

Service Appreciation Awards – Bob Elion, Nancy Larson and Pete Shultz

YMCA Champion Award – Ron and Rosie Cimini, and First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania

Capital Campaign MVP – Jim Bower Sr.

Williamsport Branch YMCA:

Volunteer of the Year Award – Anne Macdonald

YMCA Inspiration Award – Jeff Rauff

Community Service Award – Wegmans

Bradford County Branch YMCA:

Volunteer of the Year Award – Shari Williams

YMCA Inspiration Award – Lisa Lewis

President’s Award – Dena Miller

Eastern Lycoming Branch YMCA:

Volunteer of the Year Awards – Elsie Emick and Jane Lowmaster

Community Service Awards – East Lycoming, Muncy and Montgomery school districts

Jersey Shore Branch YMCA:

Volunteer of the Year Award – Keith Handwerk

Service Appreciation Award – Jim Spangenberg, of CH&E Construction

Tioga County Branch YMCA

Volunteer of the Year Awards – Amy Farrer and Julie Miller

Community Partner Award – Mansfield University Women’s Soccer

YMCA Teen Involvement Award – Scott Faust and Music Production students