GREENVILLE – The Annual Meeting of the YMCA (Y) of Darke County took place Thursday, April 6, at Romer’s Catering, in Greenville.
The theme “The Sky is Not the Limit” was exemplified through the Y’s progress over the last year and and in some of the distinguished guests. In 2016, the Y of Darke County had clocked 420 volunteer hours. Y CEO Sam Casalano recognized Volunteers of the Year Ken Neff and John Swallow.
“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy,” Casalano said. “You vote in an election once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in. Nationwide, there are more than half a million YMCA volunteers serving in more than 2,700 YMCA associations in more than 10,000 communities across the country. The work of the Y would not be possible without dedicated volunteers, who go above and beyond and refuse to see the sky as the limit.”
A few years ago, the Y formed a group, Christian Emphasis Committee, consisting of six chaplains from local churches and the Y staff. They meet on a regular basis to discuss how to best meet the Y members’ spiritual needs, Casalano said. One of the chaplains, Doug Klinsing, gave the invocation and a dinner followed.
According to Casalano the purposes of the annual meeting are to celebrate and highlight the Y’s accomplishments, recognize some individuals for their efforts and to express heartfelt appreciation to the Y Board members. Outgoing Y Board Members include: Shelly Gasson, Daren Hiatt, Don Lockhart, Jr. and President Tammy Abell. Incoming officers and board members include: Chief Visionary Officer John Keller and board members: Larry Holmes, Dr. William Johnston, Matthew Pierron, Jan Roestamadji and John Swallow.
Casalano also recognized the following: Friends of the Y Shirla and Dennis Neff; Members of the Year Angie and Matt Arnold; Y Staff Member, Versailles Aquatics Coordinator Abby Niekamp received a Life Saver Award; Champions of Hope Midmark Corp., Eiting Family Foundation Foundation and Fort Recovery Industries, Inc. In addition a Legacy Celebration Award went to Gloria and the late William E. Hole.
“From the time the Darke County YMCA was founded, William and Gloria Hole and their family have been a great blessing to its growth and ongoing success,” Casalano said. “Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for awhile and they leave footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same. Bill left footprints on all our hearts here in Darke County and on behalf of us all, I say thank you.”
A personal story was shared by Michael Hartman, who was in a car accident that left him in a coma for 22 days, according to Casalano.
“Unable to walk or talk, he came to the Y in a wheelchair,” Casalano said. “There, with the caring of the Y staff and his father, Charlie, at his side, Michael learned to take steps again. Today, he walks only a cane for assistance. He is a living testament to the resilience of the human body, mind and the power of the human spirit.”
As part of the Y collaboration, Casalano serves on the board of the Coalition for a Healthy Darke County. Speakers for the Coalition Chief Deputy Mark Whittaker, Dr. Tim Kathman and Darke County Chamber of Commerce and Coalition President Sharon Deschambeau informed the audience about the on-going drug addiction problem in the county and the coalition’s efforts in trying to help improve overall wellness. The Coalition also recognized the Y’s part in making Darke County more healthy.
According to Casalano, for more than 165 years the work of the Y has evolved. Some of the highlights of the past year include: facility upgrades and renovations; the continued focus on youth moved the Y to serve more than 1,110 young people through character – building programs and youth sports; in efforts to foster holistic wellness, the Y had a record number of class participants at both branches. In 2016, the Y had 5,080 members of which 1,100 kids and teens enjoyed leagues, programs and special events. In addition 681 families and adults received financial assistance. The Y’s future will continue its focus on youth and community wellness, Casalano said.
“One thing that has remained constant over the years is our mission,” he said. “At the Y, we believe that real social and personal change can only come about when we all work together to invest in our children, our health and our neighbors. You can be strong by yourself, but you can only be great together.”