Volunteers plan important role in YMCA's success
The YMCA has been a fixture in the La Grange area for over 50 years. But it isn't the employees alone that have made it such a wonderful place, it is also through the endless work of many, many volunteers.
These men and women have stepped forward numerous times volunteering their time to help special events become successes, to make YMCA members feel appreciated and to raise money for many worthy causes.
The Silver Sneakers program at the Greater LaGrange YMCA is a special program with some very special people. These active seniors enjoy taking classes and trips to local sites together, but several of them also volunteer their time.
Arlene Byrne and two of her Silver Sneakers buddies, Irene Gorski and Diane Prinzhorn, are always willing to help out when needed.
Earlier this year, employees painted a number of clay pots and these three women stepped forward and literally got their hands dirty. They filled the colorful pots with dirt and some wonderful flowers, before carefully watering them. The potted plants were displayed on window sills around the building creating a lot of color and beauty.
"The Y does so much for me that I feel like I have to pay back in some way," Irene explained of why she helped plant the flowers and "tattooed" some of the children on a Member Appreciation Day. "I would help out in any way the Y needs me to, because the Y is helping me physically, mentally and socially and the instructors are fabulous."
"I like the Y and I like the people there," Arlene said of why she helps out.
Diane agreed that one of the reasons she helps whenever she is needed is because she is grateful for the friends she has at the YMCA.
"I enjoy the camaraderie and just being with people my own age" at the YMCA, she said. "Volunteering (with friends) is a great outlet. It is doing something positive for ourselves and for our health."
Because the YMCA offers a variety of classes and events, there is room for many people to volunteer their services. This summer the Y was fortunate to have Ami Krupowicz, a sophomore at Lyons Township High School, help out wherever needed.
"My mom was working out and my little sister was in (Kids' Zone) and I didn't want to do nothing all summer so I offered to help," Ami explained. "I helped out every Monday and Thursday morning and helped Jan on the bike ride on Tuesdays. It turned out to be really fun.
"I really liked making friends with the little kids and the staff. It's such a nice feeling and so much fun being a part of an extended family like that," she said. "I am definitely going to do more volunteering during the school breaks."
Trying to repay all the assistance the YMCA has given her since she became a single mother is one of the reasons Mary Ziemba donates her time. She has been seen at the La Grange Park facility, at summer camp and the outdoor movie night turning balloons into beloved shapes.
"I have always liked entertaining and performing and kids and making them happy," Mary explained, "and I believe in giving back."
Giving back to the community is exactly why so many of the board members at the GLG YMCA became involved. They believe in the YMCA and the many organizations it supports.
"The board members are a dedicated group who plan fundraisers that benefit the Special Olympics, Impact 4 Life and scholarship programs," said Bridgette Letizia, executive director. They are "a diverse group of volunteers who share a common trait--wanting to help others in the community through the many offerings of the GLG YMCA.
"We are so grateful to all of our volunteers who have assisted us in so many ways," Letizia added. "We wouldn't be the same without them."