SUMMIT, NJ, October 16, 2018 – Since the Summit Area YMCA’s (SAY) founding in 1886, volunteers have been the driving force in how the SAY is able to bring meaningful programs, events and services to our community. From cheering on our Mother’s Day 5K runners and walkers; to providing Summit Senior residents hand massages and manicures; to mentoring Achiever students navigate the college application process; to volunteer coaching and teaching children the importance of sportsmanship and teamwork; to policy volunteers on boards and committees supporting programs and events that directly strengthen our communities; to volunteers that donate their time in fundraising for meaningful, free programs at the Y. The Summit Area YMCA’s volunteers are what give our organization the vitality and the ability to make progress in filling gaps of need in the community.
On October 15, 2018, the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance hosted their 18th Annual Recognition Event Dinner at the Hyatt New Brunswick hotel in New Brunswick, NJ to honor a number of leaders and change agents in the New Jersey YMCA movement. Among them, Short Hills resident Emily Segal was awarded Youth of the Year along with 25 other youth and Summit's Gloria M. Ron-Fornes was awarded the Martin Bartner Award.
As the Youth of the Year, Emily Segal was recognized for the difference she has made at the Summit Area YMCA and in the lives of others through her volunteer efforts. Emily is an avid swimmer and has been a member of the Summit Seals 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. We particularly commend 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.
Emily said, "It is an honor to receive the Youth Volunteer of the Year award. The Summit Y has been such a large part of my life since I was 8 years old, and I only felt it natural to try to give back some of what it has given me. If volunteering has taught me one thing, it is that we are all part of the same community…the SAY community."
Paul Kieltyka with Emily Segal and her family | All New Jersey YMCA State Alliance Youth Award Winners
Gloria M. Ron-Fornes, passionate Summit Area YMCA volunteer, was honored with the prestigious Martin Bartner Award. The Martin Bartner Award recognizes a diverse YMCA staff or volunteer leader whose efforts epitomize the Y’s core values and dedication to diversity and inclusion—this award also affirms the NJ YMCA State Alliance’s commitment to the importance of diversity and inclusion in YMCAs and the communities we serve.
The award was named after Martin Bartner, a former publisher of the Star-Ledger newspaper and long-time supporter of YMCAs in New Jersey, as well as the New Jersey Achievers Progra m. Today, our communities are rapidly changing and the Y, like it historically has always done, adapts accordingly to serve. In 2015, the SAY was officially the first YMCA in New Jersey to become a part of the Diversity and Inclusion Global Innovation Network (DIG Network), a Y movement whose efforts are to outreach to diverse and underserved communities, encourage community bridge-building, and drive program innovation so that everyone, regardless of who they are and where they come from, has an opportunity to reach their full potential.
Gloria M. Ron-Fornes speaking at the event and pictured with her family
Gloria M. Ron-Fornes has a long history of community engagement, civic and political action and a strong sense of equal rights and empowerment for all, especially for underserved communities. She has served as a Trustee of the Summit Area YMCA, has served on the Summit Board of Education and remains active in several local education and community non-profits. She has always strived for a better country, a better world and a better us. When the Summit Area YMCA became the first DIG YMCA in New Jersey, Gloria spearheaded our efforts to begin the thoughtful process of implementing practices to ensure diversity and inclusion were integral to our everyday operations. She has not only personally taken DIG related staff and community trainings, and also led the efforts in ensuring volunteering recruitment strategies at the Y allowed for consideration of diverse, inclusive and global views.
“In every way, Gloria is a role model who unselfishly gives her time to multiple causes and events in the community.” said Summit Area YMCA President and CEO, Paul Kieltyka. “Her compassion is matched only by her determination to ensure that we all behave, act and live in our communities as role models for our children, and embody the Y values of caring, honest, responsibility and respect.”
Paul Kieltyka speaking at the event and pictured with Gloria M. Ron-Fornes
In Gloria’s acceptance speech of the Bartner Award, she spoke fondly of the Summit Area YMCA. “I want to thank the YMCA and especially the Summit Area YMCA for having the courage and vision to respect, honor and welcome all of US. The DIG team has really focused on understanding diversity, understanding the community it serves and the community it lives in - reflecting on ensuring that all are welcomed. We’ve walked the halls of the 3 branches to understand if our messaging and our pictures really reflect our DIG goals. We’ve introduced new programming to appeal to the different diverse groups in our community. We’ve created special welcoming opportunities for members, potential members and the community at large. We’ve educated the staff and management. We’ve engaged the Board in looking at itself as a board and asking itself challenging questions about the makeup of the Board and also their understanding of the different groups in the community. It already feels different when you walk into the branches and people are noticing."
"I wanted to get involved to help focus our attention on those in our local community who don’t have a voice or their voices are not heard and selfishly I wanted the opportunity to understand diversity parameters that are not native to me. I am blessed once again to have the opportunity to expand my understanding of humanity – so thank you. Thank you for this recognition which I share with all the members of the SAY DIG team.”
To learn more about the NJ YMCA State Alliance, please visit https://www.njymca.org/
To learn more about the Summit Area YMCA and its DIG efforts please visit www.thesay.org/DIG
Volunteer with us at the SAY! Visit www.thesay.org/volunteer
About the Summit Area YMCA
The Summit Area YMCA is one of the area’s leading 501(c)3 charitable non-profit 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.