Tyler Confair started coming to the Jersey Shore Branch YMCA at just 8 years old.
Today, he is a seventh-grader at Jersey Shore Area Middle School, and not only participates in programs but assists staff as a volunteer and mentors younger children.
Lis Miranda, executive director of Jersey Shore Branch YMCA, said, "Tyler shows his sincere interest in wanting to help others and his passion for the Y by participating in the Brick House youth program and the Youth Basketball League."
"The Brick House is many things. It's an after-school program for kids, concerts, movie nights, youth dances and much, much more. All of our Brick House activities are promoted, hosted and attended by the kids," Miranda said. "At our after-school program for grades six through 12, the older kids are there to help the younger ones with their homework and maybe even their jump shot. We always have staff on hand to chaperone, but the Brick House is all about kids helping kids. Tyler starting out receiving the guidance and now he helps provide guidance for the younger kids."
"It is fun helping younger people," said Tyler. "I like to be able to teach them things that they might not know."
The Brick House is more than a "hang out,"according to Miranda.
"It is a social program that is both fun and educational," she stated. "The Y has learned from past experience that working with youth and teens requires a balance of fun activities, incentives, and education through direct coaching and 'teachable moments'."
In addition to Brick House, each Saturday Tyler comes in early and stays late to help run the scoreboard and keep track of the score sheets in the Youth Basketball League and recently was awarded the "Youth Volunteer of the Year Award."
"This is clear proof that not only are Tyler's efforts not going unnoticed but also that the Y's Brick House program helps foster strong, community-minded young adults," said Miranda.
Tyler wasn't always the go-getter Miranda describes.
"He started out shy and quiet. The programs at the Y have helped draw out Tyler's strengths for his advantage as well as the Y's. As soon as he was offered a chance to help, he blossomed into a whole new person."
Miranda credits Tyler's family and parents Tim and Shawn Confair with setting a good example. Mrs. Confair also volunteers at the Y during youth basketball season.
"I know Tyler is in a safe environment at the Y and I don't have to worry about him getting hurt," explained Mrs. Confair. "If there wasn't a Brick House program, the kids in Jersey Shore would be bored and getting into trouble."
Through its annual funds distribution process determined by community volunteers, United Way allocated $41,000 for the Brick House program this year.
"The Brick House program prepares youth for success in life through activities that build self-esteem and teach important life skills. Building confidence in youth is accomplished by enhancing literacy, educational skills, emphasizing physical activity, service learning, and teaching healthy behavior and positive values," stated Scott N. Lowery, Lycoming County United Way executive director. "This program seeks to prevent violence, criminal activity, educational failure, substance abuse and teen pregnancy through its positive activities and LCUW is pleased to invest in this important program and the youth and families of our community."
For more information on the Jersey Shore branch, call 398-2150 or visit JerseyShorePAY MCA.org. For more information on Lycoming County United Way or to support the campaign that funds programs like these, visit lcuw.org or call 323-9448. Both organizations also are on Facebook.