President Newsletter Header March 2014

In This Issue Orange


In The News Orange
Have you seen us in the media recently? You can catch up here:

Needham Patch: Profile of Y Marathon Team Member John Wright

Waltham News Tribune; Somerville Patch; Waltham Patch: Profile of Y Marathon Team Member Beth Kaufman

Boston Globe South; Weymouth Patch; Patriot Ledger: Profile of Y Marathon Team Member Nicole Deluca

Hartford Courant; Record-Journal: Profile of Y Marathon Team Member Lynn Cella-Coyne


Donate Now Orange

Support the work the Y is doing to promote Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility.

Donate now to help your local YMCA.

Contact Kevin Orange

Kevin Washington

Kevin Washington
President & CEO
YMCA of Greater Boston
316 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA  02115
617-927-8125 | email


Board of Directors Orange

Jeff Conway, Chair
Elizabeth B. Burnett, Vice Chair
Eileen M. Connors, Vice Chair
William I. Huyett, Vice Chair
Brian H. Kavoogian, Vice Chair
Richard C. Waters, Treasurer
Mark S. Ain
Hope A. Aldrich
Richard H. Aldrich
Brant Binder
Kevin J. Blake
Daniel F. Conley
Donald E. Conover
C. Michael Daley
David A. Damassa
Kevin A. Foster
John P. Fowler
David G. Fubini
Michelle W. Hecht
Professor Cornelius K. Hurley
Evelyn Kaupp
Robert E. Kenney
Teresa K. Koster
Matt McPherron
C. Ann Merrifield
Tara Murphy
Charlayne Murrell-Smith
Jack R. O'Connor
Jill W. Onderdonk
James P. Palermo
William M. Parent
Charles R. Parrott
Cynthia L. Strauss
Nancy Stuart
Alan W. Tuck
Kate Walsh
Frederick A. Wang
Faith S. Weiner
M. David Wilkins
Youth Development

Teens in Professional ClothingThe TJX Companies recently announced its support for the Huntington Avenue YMCA with a $75,000, three-year grant. In addition, the company will donate $9,000 in gift cards over the next three years for young people to purchase professional clothes from either T.J. Maxx or Marshalls.

When Huntington Avenue YMCA Executive Director Wendy Zinn wanted to bring a group of Boston teens to a recent business-networking event, she soon realized there was problem. “None of the boys had suits and the girls struggled with what was appropriate business attire,” said Zinn.  “For many families, finding the money to put food on the table and pay rent is a struggle and business attire is the farthest thing from these kids’ minds when shopping for clothes.” 

Thanks to the idea from high school junior Andy Vo, the Y asked The TJX Companies for help outfitting local teens with suits and professional clothes they could wear for job interviews, graduations and other occasions.  “Wearing a suit just makes me feel important,” said Vo. “People take me more seriously and it gives me the confidence to put my best self forward.”

Through its youth development programs, the Y places a strong emphasis on preparing young people to succeed in college and in future careers. Job and life skills such as arriving on time, having a good attitude, teamwork, and dressing appropriately are all skills the Y emphasizes during its summer employment and year round programs.  In addition to teens, this award from The TJX Companies will provide operating support for the Y’s 22 unit shelter, Families In Transition. 

Abigail EzedonmwenLast spring, Abigail Ezedonmwen joined the YMCA Achievers College Pathways program at the Egleston Square Y to prepare for her SATs because she was dissatisfied with the scores she had previously received.

"Within a couple months of joining the College Pathways program, I learned skills such as resume building, increased my SAT score by 200 points, and found a career path that involves a Bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and an MBA to start my own consulting firm," said Abigail. "Almost a year later, I am receiving acceptance letters from Wentworth Institute of Technology, Philadelphia University and Howard University."

Abigail is the oldest of four children in a single parent household and will be the first in her family to attend college. She is currently a high school senior and plans to attend Howard University in the fall. She credits the College Pathways program with helping her obtain the needed skills and increased focus to get into college.

Abigail is one of 84 high school seniors who participated in this year's College Pathways program at 4 of our Y locations. Most students are expecting to receive acceptance letters from area colleges within the next few weeks.

Fifty-two high school seniors participated in the Y's fall SAT session and we anticipate more than 100 students in the spring session, which will begin in a few weeks at five of our branches.

The success of Abigail and her peers is thanks to our corporate sponsors, including State Street and Raytheon Company.

Social Responsibility Orange

Whole Foods CharlestownWhole Foods Charlestown is partnering with the Charlestown Y to host a 5% Day at their Charlestown store.  On Tuesday, March 25, Whole Foods will donate 5% of the day's net sales to the Charlestown Y annual campaign.  

Donations can also be made directly to the annual campaign of any of our YMCAs through our website.

Jonathan SavoyJonathan Savoy is Assistant Vice President at The TJX Companies. He volunteers with the Brunch and Basketball program at the Dorchester YMCA and has been on the Board of Advisors for the Huntington Avenue Y for the past two years. Jonathan was instrumental in helping secure the recently announced $75,000 three-year grant for the Y from The TJX Companies.

Tell us about your first experience with the Y.
I first became a member of the Y in 1973 at the Grand Ave Northside branch in St. Louis. The Y was a safe haven for me during summers, where I participated in many programs including the Northside Read & Ride Program, team sports, and other recreational activities.

Why did you decide to volunteer with the Y?
I wanted to give back to the Y and to our kids. At a young age, the Y experience allowed me to channel positive energy, learn and meet new friends in a safe environment. 
The Y helped nurture my own development, and I wanted to continue the tradition and be a part of the great work the Y does in our community. 

In your opinion, what is one of the greatest impacts the Y has on the Greater Boston community?
The Families in Transition (FIT) program, a transitional housing program for families, at the Huntington Avenue Y is one of the most significant contributions from the YMCA of Greater Boston. So many children and mothers are able to jumpstart their lives and begin their journey towards normalcy thanks to FIT.


Healthy Living

Young adult exercisingWith the renovations at our flagship Huntington Avenue YMCA nearing completion, we are looking forward to opening the first phase of our new state-of-the-art healthy living center, after school space, teen center and classrooms in mid-April. We are so excited about the updated space and can't wait to preview it for our friends and neighbors.

The Huntington Avenue Y is hosting a Community Open House on Saturday, April 5, from 10:00am to 4:00pm, to highlight many of the exciting new features of the Y. Staff will be on hand to lead tours of the renovated facility and to answer questions about Y memberships. Please visit our website for additional information.

Young ChildrenSince 2009, the YMCA has partnered with the LIVESTRONG Foundation to offer LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, a free group-based exercise program for adult cancer survivors in any stage of treatment.

With one in three people in the U.S. facing a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, children in schools everywhere are likely to be dealing with cancer right now — with a grandparent, parent, family member, friend or teacher. Research shows that 25 percent of cancer survivors in the U.S. have school-aged children. Also, siblings of children with cancer report that the support they receive at school is just as important as the support they receive at home. 

The LIVESTRONG at School curriculum offers lessons for grades K–12 to help teach students about cancer in a way that is age-appropriate, inspiring and empowering. The curriculum was developed by the LIVESTRONG Foundation staff and external clinical experts, and reviewed for age-appropriateness, relevancy, and medical accuracy by teachers across the country. The curriculum was pilot tested in three school districts during classroom time.

The LIVESTRONG Foundation and the Y are partnering again, this time to bring the LIVESTRONG at School curriculum to YMCA programs. Based on learnings from six pilot Y associations in the United States, four of our Greater Boston branches - Charles River, West Roxbury, Waltham, and Wang YMCAs – are joining approximately 50 other Ys around the country to test implementation strategies in our out-of-school time programs. Over the next six months, these branches will be involved in group learning circles to share ideas, tools, resources and implementation strategies. The goal is to launch the LIVESTRONG at School in Y afterschool programs in the fall of 2014.

For more information about LIVESTRONG at School, please contact Joann Donnelly, Executive Director of Healthy Living.

Snow shoing in WalthamThe Waltham YMCA has been taking advantage of this winter's heavy snowfalls and the miles of trails surrounding the branch by offering family snowshoing treks free to members. Snowshoe instructor Betsy is a local volunteer who has been showshoing around the Waltham community for years. The Y provides snowshoes for up to six adults and six children, though anyone with their own snowshoes is welcome to join the group designed for all ages and levels of experience.

Staff at the Waltham Y are preparing to offer an innovative new fitness class this spring. Bollywood dance classes combine the rich texture of India's many classical and folk dances with elements of jazz, hip hop, Arabic and Latin forms. This high-energy class, led by volunteer instructor Isha, promises to be so much fun that participants don't realize they are getting an intense and challenging workout. Bollywood classes at the Waltham Y will begin in early April.

For more information about either of these classes, please contact Beth Kaufman.