On Tuesday June 7, 2018, The Summit Area YMCA held its Annual Celebration to honor a number of exemplary volunteers who have invested their time, talent and resources towards the betterment of our community as well as the various accomplishments in how the Y has provided positive impact on the community.
Nearly 100 supporters, volunteers, staff and community leaders were in attendance. The evening started with a few words from the newly appointed Summit Area YMCA Board Chair, Robert Jeffries. He welcomed the crowd and reviewed the various meaningful events and programs that the Summit Area YMCA had hosted this past year to strengthen and unify community, including but not limited to: The Holi Color Festival, Diwali Festival, Lunar New Year Festival, Family Backpack program, Togetherhood programs, new Special Needs Programs and more.
In honoring Noteworthy Youth of the year, Christopher Miree, Youth & Teen Director of the Summit YMCA introduced Emily Segal, an amazing Youth Volunteer. Emily has made an incredible impact on the Summit Area YMCA and in the lives of others through her volunteer efforts. She is an avid swimmer and has been a member of the Summit Area YMCA swim team since she was eight years old. Over the past two years, she has been a year-round participant in our YMCA VolunTeens program where volunteers help in projects around the Y and in the community. The Summit Area YMCA particularly commends Emily for her warm, compassionate and helpful attitude and the many hours she has spent in the pool with special needs children as part of our Sundays in Motion program, and as a Swim Aide on Saturdays.
Four graduating teens from the Achievers Program were also honored. Nkozi Abdur-Rahman, Jourdan Banks, Tara Moriello, as well as Grace Tseng received honorary certificates and gifts from the Summit Area YMCA to celebrate their graduation and achievements with the Y and in the community.
“Y Achievers has helped me to realize my college dreams and nurture my career aspirations.” said Nkozi. The young man joined the Y Achievers program in 2015 after spending years in the Summit YMCA Summer Camps. Now a graduating senior at Summit High School, he is excited to be attending Rowan University to further his education in the Music Industry. During his time at Summit High, he was a part of the wrestling team, marching band, Peer Leadership Group, and PEP.
Jourdan Banks, also a graduating Achiever, will be attending the University of Maryland in the Fall. During her time in the Achievers Program, Jourdan helped to organize fun teen and youth events and served as a positive role model to younger students. Tara Moriello will be graduating from the Union County Vocational-Technical High School Academy for the Performing Arts this June and was involved with the competitive dance team, Student Council, Relay for Life and Yearbook Committee. She will be attending the American University in Washington, D.C. Grace Tseng, having immigrated from Taiwan and now graduating from the Governor Livingston High School in Berkeley Heights, has been part of the Interact Club, Math League as well as musician for the school musical. She will be studying business at Rutgers University.
Following the youth awards, each Executive Director of the Summit Area YMCA showed videos and introduced members and staff from the Y to speak of their experiences, including Sandy Bloom of the Summit Area Public Foundation. Their impactful stories demonstrated the Summit Area YMCA’s impact on the community ranging from Special Needs Programs, Senior Programs, and Financial Assistance.
Mission Advancement Volunteers, Living Our Cause Volunteers, as well as Noteworthy Youth were also celebrated for their dedication and achievements throughout the year.
Mission Advancement Volunteers play a lead role in advancing the Y mission within the community by sharing information about Y initiatives with other community leaders and helps to broker strategic partnerships and collaborations to meet community needs. Mission Advancement Volunteers for 2018 are Dr. Donald DeFabio of the Berkeley Heights YMCA, Dorota Szerszenowicz of the Summit YMCA, and Amanda Corredor of The Learning Circle YMCA (TLC).
Left: Dr. Donald DeFabio
Right: Dr. Joseph Tribuna
Dr. DeFabio has been a most valuable volunteer and partner to the YMCA and the community in advancing our mission. Most recently, he participated in the Healthy Hearts Rehab program where he produced weekly vlogs to share his experience and encourage others to join the Summit Area YMCA’s free program. Over the years, he has hosted a series of health lectures for the community covering tops such as sleepless nights, managing stress and boosting ones’ immune system. Additionally, he has been the enthusiastic chairman of the Mother’s Day 5K race leading a weekly running club and emceeing the event and started a focus group for the special needs population. The Summit Area YMCA is grateful for his service and involvement for the past 10 years.
Dorota Szerszenowicz is a devoted volunteer that embodies the mission of the YMCA. Dorota’s leadership led to the conception and implementation of a monthly Senior Spa Day for residents of the Victor Gallo Senior Housing complex. The event pairs each senior resident with volunteers who pamper them with manicures and hand massages, to which they look forward to each month. Her time and talents have allowed the Summit Area YMCA to expand our reach and make a meaningful difference in the lives of many.
"When you think about the Y, you think about Summit. It's Summit's DNA. I wanted to be a part of it and I wanted to be a part of the positive change in the community." said Dorota, upon receiving her award. "Without the volunteer group that the Y started called Togetherhood, I wouldn't be able to serve the community and live the purpose of the Y. I want to thank you from the bottom of the heart for giving me the opportunity to serve this community."
Amanda’s involvement as a volunteer began at the Y when she was sixteen years old. After she completed her Master’s Degree in Special Education, Amanda chose to work for The Learning Circle YMCA for two years; first as a Pre-Kindergarten and then Kindergarten teacher before taking a job to serve children in a low income school district. Amanda has been a volunteer on the Summit Area YMCA’s Laugh Out Loud Charity Auction & Comedy Night committee, an active campaigner to the Y’s Annual Campaign, a member of the Y’s 5K Mother’s Day Run/Walk committee and a member of TLC’s Branch Advisory Committee for the past five years. Recently, she was integral to exploring opportunities to expand curriculum and technology for children and staff.
Living Our Cause Volunteers participate in a leadership capacity by serving as a member of a branch board, board committee or special event planning committee and acts as a storyteller to help raise funds to support the Y cause. Recipients of the Living Our Cause Volunteer awards are Dr. Joseph Tribuna of the Berkeley Heights YMCA, Mibs Wagner of the Summit YMCA, and Nishita Roesler of The Learning Circle YMCA.
A volunteer at the Summit Area YMCA since 2015, Joe has served on the Branch Advisory Committee and SAY Board of Trustees. Each year, he stepped up to help move the Y’s Annual Campaign forward. This year, he was an active member of our Capital Campaign Committee where he is involved in discussions with individual donors and corporations to raise funds to build a new Berkeley Heights YMCA branch on Locust Ave. Joe has also helped the Summit Area YMCA to get Atlantic Health to present at Y Health Fairs.
Dr. Joseph Tribuna spoke to his experience at the Y upon receiving his award. "The Y is the community. It's not a gym. It's about making a difference. Something near and dear to my and my wife's hearts is one of my daughter's teachers, who helped diagnose my daughter with a learning disability, I saw that she was in the LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program regaining her strength from cancer, and seeing how the Y has made an impact on her life has been phenomenal. I hope to be here and volunteer for a very long time."
Mibs Wagner joined the Summit Area YMCA in 2015 and has demonstrated her commitment to the Summit community in her extraordinary leadership and involvement in both the Togetherhood Committee and the SAY’s Annual Campaign. Mibs can be found organizing events and motivating her fellow volunteers to do and be more. She brings an enthusiastic spirit, a plethora of good ideas and her infectious laugh to whatever projects she is involved with -- from Lunch & Learns to aqua exercise classes and everything in between.
Left: Amanda Corredor
Right: Nishita Roesler
Nishita’s long tenure of service with the Summit Area YMCA began when her children attended The Learning Circle YMCA and she read to and assisted with projects in their classrooms. Nishita was instrumental in having her then employer, Deloitte, designate the Summit Area YMCA as one of their National Impact Day sites—with as many as 25 volunteers dedicate their time to serve our YMCA. She has been an active campaigner for the Y’s Annual Campaign and lent her expertise on introducing advanced technology into the Y’s Childcare classrooms. She demonstrates commitment to the Y’s mission by chairing TLC’s Branch Advisory Committee and representing TLC on the Board of Trustees.
"Every story that we heard today is about why we went into some aspect of the Y. When my family moved here eleven years ago, we found a wonderful daycare and really a school, The Learning Circle YMCA." said Nishita. "My kids have a foundation of confidence, compassion, they believe in education and have seen adults do amazing things. And being a part of the Y has allowed me to do things and experience things that I never thought I'd be able to do. So I thank the Summit Area YMCA very much for that opportunity."
The Summit Area YMCA’s volunteers dedicate their time and talent towards making the community stronger through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. After presenting the awards to each honoree, President & CEO of the Summit Area YMCA Paul Kieltyka congratulated the volunteers and also announced the newest project under the SAY’s belt, the Capital Campaign to build a new Berkeley Heights YMCA facility.
Paul Kieltyka, President & CEO Summit Area YMCA
“I firmly believe these capital improvements will allow us to serve the community with the quality, thoughtful service that thousands of residents have come to know at our Ys.” said Paul. “We will now have more opportunities to collaborate with local organizations and partners, serve more children and families, create additional programs of all disciplines and be cemented as the true community leader for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Please join me as we embark on this ambitious campaign to enrich and sustain the foundations of our great community.”
Proposed Berkeley Heights YMCA
Proposed Summit YMCA Exterior
With over 20 million in new capital investments, the Summit Area YMCA will continue to develop the Berkeley Heights YMCA and Summit YMCA facilities in ways that advance our mission. These capital improvements – a renovation of the Summit YMCA and a relocation and new construction of the Berkeley Heights YMCA – will result in improved functionality, improved member service, and improved programs at both branches. The long-term success of our facilities will ensure people are healthier, happier and stronger as we continue to adapt to the changing needs of our growing community.
To learn more about the Investing In Our Future Capital Campaign, please visit: http://www.sayfuture.org/
For photos from the Annual Celebration, please visit our Facebook Album Page.
About the Summit Area YMCA
The Summit Area YMCA is one of the area’s leading 501(c)3 charitable organizations. Founded in 1886, the Summit Area YMCA has a history steeped in working side-by-side with our neighbors to ensure that everyone, regardless of age, income and background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. Each year, we serve more than 10,000 individuals with our free and fee-based programs and services in an area spanning the communities of Berkeley Heights, New Providence, Millburn, Springfield, Short Hills, Summit, Gillette, and Stirling. Through the generosity of our members, donors, and partners, we are able to offer financial assistance for our programs and services to those with demonstrated need. To strengthen your community and provide others with the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive, make your tax-deductible donation today at www.theSAY.org/give.