MAY 2022 – The Summit Area YMCA (SAY) held its Annual Celebration on May 12, 2022 to honor key community partners who continually dedicate their time and resources by partnering with the Y to make lives better in the community each and every day. The Corporate Partnership Award was presented to Olympus Power, LLC, the Shuart Reed Memorial Award was presented to Yon Cho, and the Unsung Hero Award was dedicated to long-time YMCA staff member, Frank Cavallo.
Nearly 200 supporters, volunteers, staff, community leaders and partners were in attendance. “With the support of our local partners, we strongly believe we can continue to have the impact and positive difference in our community," said Paul Kieltyka, President and CEO of the Summit Area YMCA. "Especially during a time of uncertainty, we could not have been more grateful for our community partners, staff, and volunteers, leading the way to a better future." Paul welcomed the attendees and thanked them for helping the Y continue its mission of nurturing youth development, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility.
Continuing with his welcome, Paul gave a special thanks to all who support the annual fundraising campaign which, he explained, allows our Y to keep its promise to the community made over 130 years ago to have our facilities and programs available to everyone, regardless of circumstance. With the community in attendance, the President and CEO also spoke of the culture of safety that the Summit Area YMCA lives and breathes by with a focus on the belief of “See Something, Say Something, Do Something” and urging our partners and leaders to do the same.
"In the last two years, we have served more people than we ever had, whether it was food insecurity, social isolation, academic help, direct financial assistance, due to incredible fundraising efforts that you have all contributed to over the years. That, too, is powerful change."
Guests had the opportunity to watch and listen to stories from our very own YMCA community members about how the Y has changed their lives. Marilyn Esnes, Livestrong® at the YMCA participant and cancer survivor, recounted the time she found out she had cancer. "I saw something regarding Livestrong® at the YMCA. And when I saw that program, I figured, why not try it because I need to be stronger physically as well as mentally. And it was difficult class. The trainers are very cognizant of the fact that you have restrictions and they adapt."
Our very own YMCA group exercise instructor and donor, Stewart Douglas, explained the importance of giving back to the community and providing programs for those who need it. Spearheading the exercise program for students with special needs, Stewart developed a rotational class that gave these students an opportunity to find exercise equipment or routines that they liked, while also encouraging them to engage with others and trying new things.
Katie Wenger, parent at The Learning Circle YMCA (TLC), described the tender love and care that the teachers and staff members at TLC provide to their students. Katie recognized four LC retirees for the many years they dedicated their time to serving our youth, "We should take a moment and recognize how unique it is to have people of this tenure at an organization. And the fact that many of these wonderful educators probably may have retired a few years earlier if they weren't so involved and committed to making sure that The Learning Circle succeeded through probably one of the most difficult times in early childhood education ever."
Bob Ashmun, former Trustee and current Facilities Committee Member for the SAY, presented The Shuart Reed Award to Yon Cho. The Shuart Reed Memorial Award is awarded in grateful memory of Shuart Reed, General Secretary of the Summit Area YMCA, 1935-1943. It is given to those who exemplify his commitment to the betterment of our community. The Shuart Reed Memorial Award is the highest honor that the Summit Area YMCA bestows upon our volunteers. It has been several years since it has been presented as the criteria to receive the award requires the highest levels of service to the community.
This year we are most proud to honor long-time Summit Area YMCA Board of Trustee Yon Cho. Yon is one of our Y's biggest advocates and has built an iconic legacy within our community and the Y over the past decade while also supporting other local organizations such as the Summit Boy Scouts and Board of Education. Since 2009, Yon has made an incredible mark on the Summit Area YMCA as a member of the Board of Trustees. Yon, who can be found working out at the Y most days, led our organization to success with the construction of the Berkeley Heights YMCA, which opened in 2020, through his role as the Facilities Committee Chair. Yon next has his sights set on leading us to a renovation of the Summit YMCA. His time and dedication are an investment in our organization's vitalism for the next 135 years.
Tiffany Escott, Mission Advancement and Development Director of the Summit Area YMCA, presented our first Unsung Hero Award, in memoriam of Frank Cavallo, a Berkeley Heights YMCA icon. The Unsung Hero Award celebrates those who make the Y experience so special through their daily actions. For over a decade, Frank was the anchor of the Berkeley Heights YMCA front desk. It was as if it was a given that Frank would always be there to smile, welcome you by name, and send you on your way with a dash of humor. He was always warm, inviting and built many lasting friendships that extended past the walls of the Y. Frank was a compassionate man with a heart of gold and was truly committed to the Y’s mission and if he had not already volunteer to help, you never had to ask twice for his assistance. He truly cared and made an impact. Frank's immediate family members accepted the award on Frank's behalf including his wife Linda Cavallo, daughters Melissa Kardos & Christine Cavallo, and son, Frank Cavallo, who thanked the attendees and gave a heartwarming speech about his wonderful, caring father.
The SAY took a moment to recognize how unique it is to have people who have been part of the Y for decades. It's rare for any organization to have dedicated staff members who not only come to work everyday, but seize the day in the everything they do for many years. The Lifetime Achievement award recognizes Summit Area YMCA retirees who committed more than 20 years of service to our organization. Ruby Hollingsworth, Sr. Director of Pre-K & Kindergarten; Angela Gamble, Infant & Toddler Program Director; and Michelle Pallonetti, Preschool Program Director of The Learning Circle YMCA (TLC), illustrated the dedication three extraordinary women at TLC put forth when caring for our TLC families over the decades: Betty Budd, Lois Farrell, and Margaret Lloyd.
Betty Budd spent 35 years with The Learning Circle, caring for the most vulnerable children - our infants under 18 months old. Betty's quiet manner, patience, and expertise, soothed many young children as they separated from their parents, guiding them through growth and development in the first year. Lois Farrell guided numerous children, parents, and staff members during her nearly 40 years at TLC. Her kind and gentle manner created an atmosphere of trust and safety for all who interacted with her each day. Margaret Lloyd has been the heart and soul of her toddler classroom, where she led with love and high expectations that fostered in her students a sense of confidence and independence. Ms. Margaret would sing a personalized song to each child as they arrived and left for the day to let them know how special they are. "It was truly my honor to work alongside all three of these women," said Michelle Pallonetti. "While they may be retiring from TLC, the marks they left are here to stay in both the warm and vibrant culture they built and in the lessons they taught not only their students but their fellow staff."
As a thank you, families, staff, and former students gave their best wishes and thanked these women in heartfelt, personalized video message that was presented to them during their recognition. With a standing ovation, Betty, Lois, and Margaret accepted their Lifetime Achievement Award presented by their fellow staff.
Over the years, they led with expertise in early childhood education – knowing how to create a stable yet stimulating environment that met the physical, psychological, and emotional needs of our children during some of their most vulnerable and transformative years. While they may be retiring from TLC, the marks they left are here to stay in both the warm and vibrant culture they built and in the lessons they taught not only their students but their fellow staff. We wish these wonderful women a well-deserved retirement!
Norman Sanyour, Trustee of the Summit Area YMCA, presented the 2022 Corporate Partnership Award to Rick Vicens of Olympus Power, LLC. This award honors an outstanding business for their partnership in fulfilling the Y’s mission to ensure everyone has the opportunity to learn, grown and thrive. As the CEO of Olympus Power, LLC, Rick Vicens is also a former member of the Summit Area YMCA Board of Trustees and received the award on behalf of Olympus Power, LLC. He served as a valuable member and contributed greatly to financial, strategic successes while also playing a large role in the entire process of erecting our brand-new state-of-the-art Berkeley Heights YMCA.
"In 2022, we have much to be grateful for as we look back at the resilient efforts during the COVID pandemic and how our work, combined with a growing consortium of community partners, helped us serve, evolve, and sustain," said Paul Kieltyka, President and CEO of the Summit Area YMCA. One such partner, Olympus Power LLC, provided continual financial support to allow our programs to expand their abilities to provide financial assistance, address food insecurity and much more. "We are proud to have Olympus Power as a partner and we look forward to recognizing them and their CEO, Rick Vicens, for their contributions to our community."
For over 10 years, Olympus Power has been a steady supporter of the SAY. Olympus continues to be major supporters of our Annual and Capital Campaigns. They have shown an incredible desire to give back to our communities through talent and treasure and have only made our Y's impact even stronger.
Kaitlin Casey, VP of Advancement of the Summit Area YMCA, introduced the SAY's first ever Changemaker Award and this year's honorees. Over the past few decades, there have been about fifty people who we call our Summit Area YMCA Changemakers. These are individual donors who have a lifetime giving of $100,000 or more to our organization. In most cases, this level of commitment doesn't happen all at once. It's an accumulation of giving year after year, ensuring that we have the steady flow of funds that we need to provide financial assistance and free programming to those who need it in the community. "I'm pleased to announce that starting this month, Y-USA will be recognizing our Changemakers under national honor roll of donors," said Kaitlin Casey. Honorees included, Yon & Francie Cho, Robert & Colleen Jeffries, Lex Maultsby & Polly Palumbo, and Robert & Nora Radest.
Our mission-driven staff have long been the backbone to so much of what we bring to our community. This year we will recognize the efforts of several long-time staff from the Summit Area YMCA who are retiring. We are excited to celebrate the careers, lasting impact, and achievements of leaders such as William Brown, IT Director and Joyce Klimaski, Executive Director of The Learning Circle YMCA, both whom we are in great appreciation of their dedication and service to the Summit Area YMCA.
Kelly Rooney, CFO of the Summit Area YMCA, painted a picture for the audience: imagine the technology in the 1990s. That was the around the same time that William Brown started career at the Summit Area YMCA and accomplished many things. "As our organization grew to what it is today, William was there every step of the way to keep us all connected to the latest developments in IT," said Kelly Rooney. William brainstormed and implemented new technologies over the 30 years he worked at the SAY , especially during such fast-changing times, including virtual meetings and online fitness classes that allows our staff and members connect during the pandemic. William's steadfast commitment to the Y, his wealth of IT knowledge, and warm personality, have remained the same.
After accepting his award, William was treated to what he thought was a nice recording of his old bandmates singing an old song his band, The Rhythm Shop, used to play, "Kick Inda Head." What he didn't know, was his two long-time friends and bandmates, Walter Smith and Claudette Sierra from Staten Island, were actually singing live and came out to sing for William. In awe, William hugged, danced, and sang along with his two former bandmates.
Amanda Corredor, Advisory Committee Member for The Learning Circle YMCA, honored Joyce Klimaski, Executive Director of TLC. Joyce built upon the wonderful legacy of the Summit Child Care Center and evolved it into the stimulating, nurturing early childhood education center we now know as The Learning Circle YMCA. Among many legacies Joyce leaves behind is the exceptional training program she built for her staff - a reminder that an investment in our educators is an investment in our children. "Joyce Klimaski is a true pioneer as an educational leader and has certainly left a legacy for the future of The Learning Circle. In her 21 year career, Joyce has had over 200 children a year walk through the doors of TLC," said Amanda Corredor.
Additionally, Joyce's office at The Learning Circle YMCA has been newly dedicated to her legacy for her exceptional leadership.
To close out the night, Paul Kieltyka introduces Maria Brugg, future Board Chair, to conclude the celebration with the future of the SAY. Maria recognizes all of our honorees, "each one set the bar incredibly high for those who follow. As we continue the Y's mission into the future, each will serve as a reminder on the kind of mark we would like to leave on this community." Maria thanks the Y's staff, volunteers, members and those who contribute their time, money, energy and how each and every person empowers our organization to continue to grow and remain a place of inclusivity and promise. The YMCA is a family, and we are grateful for every family member.
"The future of our Y is bright. This month, we achieved a milestone at the Berkeley Heights YMCA, surpassing 2,000 members and counting," said Maria Brugg. "The Learning Circle YMCA is bustling once again with more than 200 infants, toddlers, children thriving in the expert care of our staff. At the Summit YMCA, the incredible demand for our youth sports programs and Teen Center is a true testament to how much the youth of our area rely on the YMCA for a sense of normalcy, camaraderie, and guidance."
To learn more about corporate sponsorship opportunities with the Summit Area YMCA, please contact Kaitlin Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 1886, we were founded as the Young Men's Christian Association, but today, we are The Y. An association that values, and is made stronger by, its diverse people. We stand for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility — For a better us. We are committed to creating equal opportunity for all regardless of gender, age, disability, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religious affiliation. We strive to create a welcoming and inclusive culture in which our four core values — responsibility, honesty, caring and respect — are integral to everyday operations.
Each year, as one of the area’s leading 501(c)3 charitable organizations, the Summit Area YMCA serves more than 15,000 individuals with our free and fee-based programs and services in an area spanning the New Jersey communities of Berkeley Heights, Gillette, Millburn, New Providence, Short Hills, Springfield, Stirling and Summit. Our history is rooted in working side-by-side with our neighbors to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. Through the generosity of our members, donors, and partners, we are able to offer financial assistance for our programs and services to those in need.