2015 - 2016
Our trustees are agents of change
The Summit Area YMCA is governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees which is charged with making sure we’re always in a position to help the people in our community develop the skills and relationships they need to be healthy, confident and connected to others. Our Board establishes operating policies, provides planning and strategic direction, and helps secure the resources we need to promote change in the community and advance the YMCA’s mission.
I first joined the Y (in Tampa) upon graduating from college. I joined for exercise but discovered programs that also stimulated spirits and minds – with a notable emphasis on children and teens. Over a +20-year relationship with the Y - extending to big cities (NY), small cities (Piqua, OH) and internationally - I have found all Ys staff and programs to be consistent in cause and commitment to strengthening their surrounding communities. As a former board member of the Tampa Y and now as a Trustee of the Summit Y, I hope to nurture the Y principles for future generations, including my four daughters who are active in a number of Y programs.
My two sons developed their athletic abilities many years ago starting with their first Mom and Me swim class at the Y. It was followed by swim lessons, youth basketball clinics and leagues, and now open gym and the weight room. In the early days, as a newcomer to town, joining the Y made me feel grounded and fostered my feelings of belonging in the community. I cheered my kids on the sideline along with other parents, and participated in the gym and yoga classes myself. And, I remember the arrival of the Y brochures by mail was the trigger to register my boys for their enrichment programs – classes which they so enjoyed and in which they thrived. Summit is a wonderful town and we are blessed with so many people who care and give of themselves to others. That strengthens us individually and collectively. I am thrilled to be part of the Board of Trustees and follow in the footsteps of those who have given back."
President & CEO
I grew up attending the Westfield YMCA and, at a young age, I learned how the Y brought the community together. After Graduate School, I accepted a job at the Y and quickly determined that it would be my career path. I love the values that we embrace, the uniqueness of everyday in the Y, and the impact we make on the community. Seeing a toddler smiling and learning in child care, a youngster making his first basket in the gymnasium, a teen volunteering to help our local food pantry, or a swimmer representing the Y at the highest level of competition is magical to me. These experiences are enhanced when I see families, adults, seniors and so many others building community inside and outside our Y every day. The Y is not only where I have the privilege to make an impact, it is also where I take care of my own mental and physical health by exercising regularly. I truly look to share the joy I have experienced, and continue to experience, with others!
Secretary, Treasurer & CFO
I chose to work at the Y because I wanted to give back to the community by working at a non profit organization. As a single mom with three adolescent children, I knew my kids would benefit from my association with an organization dedicated to developing youth. All three of my kids have worked at the Y — how wonderful knowing that their first working experiences would be at an employer concerned about their development. The Y has helped me raise philanthropic young adults who continue to give back to the community. I feel great knowing that my work is helping others.
Yon ChoYon Cho
My experience with the Y started after moving to Summit in 2000. Joining the Y was the first thing I did after unpacking, even before applying for a parking permit. Since then, I've been there hundreds of times to work out, my four children have learned to swim, and had their first youth sports experiences through the Y. Over the years I've learned so much more about the Y's role in our community, providing support for families and children to be active and healthy. As a board member, I’m excited to play a part in providing for the Y's continued growth for the next 125 years.
Greg FernicolaGreg Fernicola
I have been connected to the YMCA for decades, starting with a family membership at the Shore Area YMCA in the 1960s where my five siblings and I were on the swim team and regularly participated in the many other activities that the Y had to offer. When I moved to New York City in 1986, I joined the Y of Greater New York and remained a member until 2006 when I moved to Summit. My family is active at the Summit Y — my wife and I regularly work out and my two daughters participate in the many programs offered such as aquatics, tennis, soccer and camp. I have been impressed with the YMCA organization and its mission — everybody is welcome, regardless of financial ability or background. I am very fortunate to work with a number of talented individuals on our board.
The YMCA has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a toddler I took swimming lessons at the Somerset Hills YMCA, where I went on to compete as a member of the swim team for thirteen years. I was also a very active participant in what is now referred to as Adventure Guides and a youth leadership program. My high school years found me adding work as a lifeguard, swim instructor, volunteer swim coach, and front desk receptionist at the Y to my swim team activities – meaning that the majority of my days were spent at the Y. On returning to the area I joined the Summit Area YMCA, where my two daughters have remained active in the swimming programs from when they were six months old to today as they are both members of the swim team. I am proud to be a member of the SAY community, and am fortunate to be able to serve as President of the Swim Team Parents’ Organization in addition to my role on the Board of Trustees. We are blessed to have such an amazing resource in our community – one that does much more for people than providing a place to work out. As an inclusive organization that that supports the development of children, active and healthy lifestyles, and social responsibility, the YMCA is unparalleled.
I first came to the Y to become physically fit - little did I know that I would gain overall wellness in body and soul. The more time I spent at the Y, the more I learned about the depth of their programs and support of the community. The Summit Area YMCA is a place where everyone can come to feel healthy, comfortable, safe and connected. As a child, I had a difficult upbringing, which inspired me to make a difference in the lives of others and to have a positive impact on the community. That is exactly what the Y does. I want to be aligned with organizations that share my values – so I became a volunteer at the Y. This area is a beautiful place to live but, just like everywhere, there are individuals and families who are struggling financially, physically, socially, and emotionally – the Y is always there to make a meaningful impact in their lives. I believe in the Y’s cause and helping others feeds my soul.
The YMCA has been an integral part of our family for decades. Our 3 children learned how to swim at the Y and had their first experience on the soccer field through the YMCA’s youth soccer program. The friends my son made in the Adventure Guides program are still one and the same over 20 years later. The Summit Seals swim team took up a good deal of time during the colder months for two of our children. The quotes on the back of the swim teams t-shirts still ring true with our children as they navigate their career paths. Today, as Carolyn & I approach empty nester status, we find ourselves in the Y several times a week with my time split between the gym and the pool. The Summit YMCA has been part of the fabric of our 23 years in Summit. Our children have learned many life lessons at the YMCA and we still have someone to greet us every time we walk in the door. I’m happy to have the opportunity to serve on the board and make sure the family friendly appeal of the Summit YMCA is there for decades to come.
I was working full throttle in the early 1990s to build a business, when I found myself out of sorts and out of shape. Soon thereafter, I joined the Summit YMCA to exercise and improve my health. I quickly learned the Y was unlike other gyms I had sporadically patronized in the past. I found that class instructors and personal trainers really cared about members, and that members cared about each other. It was at the Y that I made my lifelong commitment to fitness. When my husband and I moved to Berkeley Heights, we transferred our membership to the Berkeley Heights YMCA. It is a special place where the remarkable kindness and support of the staff and members inspired me to get personally involved in the broader mission of the Y – to shape a better, stronger community for adults, children, and senior (even those that weren’t members). I am proud to be part of the Board of Trustees and a part of a movement that enriches people’s lives.
My experience with the Summit YMCA started at Overlook Hospital in the mid 90's when the Y managed our employee fitness center. When that ended, my logical choice was to join the Y. It was at the Y that I learned how to swim as an adult, tried out and got to enjoy different exercise classes and became health and wellness-conscious. Over the years, I've developed real friendships with the instructors and fellow members. I am grateful to be part of the Y community and the Board of Trustees.
My relationship with the Y began shortly after my first child started walking. Those early swim lessons soon made way for summer camp, soccer and basketball games. My children learned valuable athletic and life skills, especially in terms of the friendships they formed. The Y Adventure Guides program gave my family wonderful memories of infamous campouts, as well as solid friendships with other Y families that we still cherish today. Each day our family is at the Y; whether it is a 5 a.m. power workout for my husband, a late morning routine for me, or the pool and gym after school for my children. And, I anticipate that my children will become more involved with the Y as they grow older through the teen volunteer and summer camp counselor programs.
As I think about what the Y has meant to my family, “great” precedes every benefit - great health, great life practices, great experiences and great relationships. The Y offers all of these benefits to members of the community, regardless of the ability to pay. The Y is pulse of our community and I value how my friendships there span generations and diverse backgrounds. I am proud to represent the Y as a member, parent and trustee.
Gloria M. Ron-Fornes
My YMCA story is a family-centered story. It started in the late 1960s when my parents joined a Hudson county YMCA and enrolled me in swim classes. When I moved to Summit in 1987 as a young adult and started commuting into New York, the Summit YMCA became a convenient exercise stop for me on my way home and it continues to be the place where I keep my body and mind healthy. Once I became a mother, I enrolled my sons in the Summit Child Care Center (now The Learning Circle YMCA) where I started the PTO and became its first President, and then as a member of the Board helped facilitate the center’s merger with the YMCA. The YMCA was central to my children’s lives -- swim lessons, soccer leagues, roller hockey, Halloween Haunted House, Breakfast With Santa and the Easter Bunny, the free 7th grade membership, and the pool were just a few things they did at the Y. My husband too was involved as a Y soccer referee and he was one of those who loved to run on the indoor track! When my dad passed away and my mom moved in with us, the Y became an important place for her to belong -- she began taking classes, made friends, and soon began to volunteer and work in the community. In short, each and every interaction, exercise and enrichment opportunity was a treat for each of us individually and as a family.
As an advocate for youth, families and individual growth, I am grateful to be a member of the Board. As the world continues to change rapidly, it is essential that our support organizations evolve with the same speed and resilience. I have seen the growth and outreach of our Summit YMCA over the years and I am excited to be a part of nurturing and expanding the opportunities for our entire community moving forward.
One of the first things I did upon moving to Summit in 1998 was to join the Y. Almost immediately, it became a hub of family activity, with my 5 children participating in the soccer and basketball leagues, climbing the wall, enjoying family swim, and exploring nature on countless Adventure Guide campouts. The Haunted House was an annual highlight, as well. Now, with the kids growing up, we come back for group exercise classes or to work out in the gym. The mission of the Y resonates with the whole family and so I’m proud to take an active part as a trustee to help promote and advance those principals.
Carole A. Schwartz
My involvement with the Y started with two unrelated events: a bonus check and an aging mother who was becoming less mobile each day. So when I received the check I started to think about how I might be able to help people in need. I started thinking about the needs of the elderly (people who could benefit from wheelchairs or walkers) but decided instead to set up a fund for kids to go to camp. That happened because the Y was most responsive to my calls, and presented me with the most compelling reason for help.
Initially, I had only thought about the Y as the place to do yoga but gradually began to understand its place in the community and how many residents came to it for help. Camp meant a lot to me growing up in a city, and to my mother who sometimes worked at the camp so I could go for free. Since the creation of the fund, it has been gratifying to hear from the children who benefit from the scholarships the Y provides; and very gratifying personally to have such a satisfying relationship with the Board, which has now lasted almost a decade.
My first encounter with the Y was when I was researching swim team programs for my daughters. Since swimmers spend so much time alone during practice, I wanted a program that was competitive but also provided friendship and team support; Summit YMCA was a good fit for my family. Five-plus years later, my daughters are thriving -- sharing bonds of commitment, hard work and achievement with their swim teammates. Spending so much time at the Y, my family jokes that the “Follow Me to the Summit Y” magnet was meant for my car! Now, I in turn want to give back and spend my time supporting the Y’s mission of promoting youth development, healthy lifestyles, and social responsibility. What sticks in my mind is how during Hurricane Sandy when so many of us were without power, the Y opened its doors to anyone in the area who needed a place to power up, shower or just to share stories and commiserate. The Y serves an important role in the community and positively impacts lives of all groups – children, families and seniors. I am pleased to be a member of the Y community and the Board of Trustees.