We work tirelessly every day to nurture the potential of kids, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and give back and support our neighbors. Take a look at the volunteers who partner with us in this valuable work.
August 2016 - Randall Murphy
Randall Murphy is in the Stolle Center nearly every Monday to offer tech advice to our senior members. Members will bring their laptops, tablets, smart phones and printers in so that Randall can help them through issues they may be having. He is a valuable and much valued resource. Thank you for all you do Randall!
July 2016 - Linda Hilgeman
Linda is a long time member who helps organize our card games. She also has been working diligently on organizing the Stolle Center library. She is such a wonderful and positive YMCA member who encourages anyone she encounters.
June 2016 - Carissa Epperson
Carissa has volunteered on our Gala committee for 3 years and is currently spending time each week planning and running errands for the event in March. She initially committed her time and talents to the East Ridge program where she was very instrumental in establishing our new outreach, the Early Learning Preschool which addresses the literacy needs of children in an underserved community.
May 2016 - Jean Porter
Jean volunteers her time in the Stolle Center running the Sew 4 Fun group. She and the group have made quilts for the day care center and drink coasters for the Stolle Center. This year she is creating an honor quilt to remember all the veterans who have passed. She is truly a giving and wonderful woman!
Volunteer of the Year 2016 - Jim Ludwick
Jim was selected as our Volunteer of the Year for 2016. He is one of our most active chaplains, focusing on the needs of our senior members. He's also a fantastic photographer, running photography camps along with Cathy Lyons and photographing many of our events. Finally, he's a passionate leader on the Nature Trail Committee, recently having organized an effort to plant 100 trees on the Trail. When you see Jim, please congratulate him. Thank you for everything you do, Jim!
April 2016 - Art Johnsen (Lifetime Service Award Recipient)
Art is our April Volunteer of the Month and the first ever Lifetime Service Award Recipient. He is a member who was truly here from the beginning when Countryside YMCA was merely a dream. Art was part of the fundraising group with likes of Ralph Stolle, George Henkle and Neal Armstrong that made this facility possible. He went on to serve many years on Board of Directors and the Trustees. He chaired the Christian Emphasis committee and still serves on the Nature Trail Committee. Art's insights and memory of how we got here are remarkable. And he is only 98 years young.
Art is truly deserving of this recognition as he has had a lifetime of service at Countryside YMCA.
March 2016 - Tim Scott
Congratulations to Tim Scott, our Volunteer of the Month for March 2016!
Submitted by Karen Mackey: Tim Scott started a youth basketball program for boys between the ages of 11-14. He approached me 4 years ago and I explained to him that our gym schedule during the winter months was very full, so starting a new program would be very difficult to accommodate. After further discussion regarding the needs of many members who love basketball, who may have tried out for their school team but not made it, or those that just wanted to play, we decided we would start a new program. We would have the boys meet the first Tuesday night after Thanksgiving, and Tim, along with a few other volunteers, would create an even playing field. The teams would meet for three Tuesday evenings in a row for practices and to get to know one another. They would have a break during the holiday and then start games up every Tuesday. We have just completed our fourth season! This program provides an activity for many boys who would otherwise limit their physical activity. It is fulfilling to see the boys arrive every week proudly wearing their shirts and seeing the players from all the different teams commencing in the gym. This truly is not about basketball, but about the many fond memories and friendships that are created for these boys. This program would not be successful without the direction of Tim Scott! He promoted, organized and basically has run this program for the last four years.
February 2016 - Cathy Lyons
Congratulations to Cathy Lyons, our Volunteer of the Month for February 2016!
Cathy is the lady you see at many of our events with a big smile and a fancy camera. Cathy's positive attitude is contagious and she is a photographic professional. She helps capture the spirit of the many events that occur at Countryside YMCA, allowing us to share with others. When you see her, thank her for all she does for us in sharing her skills!
January 2016 - Gabbita Gurunadam (Mr. G.)
Congratulations to Mr. G., our Volunteer of the Month for January 2016!
Mr. G. is our YMCA hospitality member. He always has a card for us to sign for members who are celebrating a birthday, anniversary or new baby. He also purchases cards for those who are sick or have lost a loved one. Mr. G. knows the importance of relationships and we can learn a lot from him.
December 2015 - Erin Swisher
Congratulations to Erin Swisher, our Volunteer of the Month for December!
Erin is a wonderful volunteer and great ambassador for Countryside YMCA. She played a huge part in the success of the Feed Nicaragua program that was held here in November and provided over 33,000 meals to people in Nicaragua. Erin has volunteered with the Annual Campaign Gala for about five years and was the Chairperson for the last three years. Her energy and passion for helping others has helped grow our committee as well as the number of patrons and money raised from the Gala. She commits several hours a week from October to March. Erin also serves on the Social Responsibility and Financial Development Committee. Her devotion to the Y and advancing our mission is truly a blessing for us!
November 2015 - Rosemary Steiner
November’s volunteer of the month, Rosemary Steiner, is a perfect example of the YMCA mission in action. She has been a senior member of the Countryside YMCA for over 20 years and is a regular participant in our 6:15am early morning water aerobics class. As long as she has been coming to this class, Rosemary can be counted on to sub whenever the instructor can’t make it. In May, our regular instructor fell and broke her ankle. Rosemary immediately stepped up and took over the class. She remained a volunteer instructor for the early morning water aerobics class from May through July. Rosemary exemplifies our YMCA core values in every way as she continues to volunteer whenever she is needed for this popular water exercise program.
October 2015 - Cecilia Maldonado
Cecilia has volunteered for Financial Development for over 3 years. She is a very compassionate volunteer who goes above and beyond the duties a volunteer should do. She is organized and committed to doing her very best every time she comes into work. Her schedule allows her to come in twice a week for 3-4 hours a day. She can multitask and brainstorm to help solve problems so that the office functions a little smoother. Cecilia also volunteers her time outside the office work. She likes to help out at the Golf Outing and the Gala. She also volunteers to help set up, clean up and serve etc. at the CRT/Heritage Event. She is truly a one-of-a-kind volunteer. She is very thankful to be a member here; she enjoys being involved in the senior center where it keeps her active and social.
September 2015 - Jim Ludwick
Jim is a volunteer chaplain and Photography Camp/Class instructor. Photography camp is particularly challenging because kids do not want to feel like they are in school, yet desire to learn about their cameras or smartphone and the programs that can modify these captures.
Creating a class that is fun for students with interesting things to photograph (such as huge wand bubbles, a nature trail scavenger hunt, glow in the dark balloons and group shots/collage for scrapbooking), yet filled with “teachable moments” is a delicate balance. For two years in a row, Jim has shared his equipment, his knowledge and his passion for using photography/music/videos to inspire, calm and bless others. His loyalty, professionalism, and kindness are unmatched, as is his resolve, willingness to listen before speaking and his joy in spreading God’s love (a prayer, an encouragement and a positive attitude).
Jim also volunteers to photograph the Veterans’ Day Celebration and various functions at Countryside YMCA; even more than his wonderful photography, Jim approaches volunteering with open hands… and for this wherever he is used, he is a blessing to all those around him.
August 2015 - Bill Kernitz
When we launched the new Engagement Coaching Program, we knew we would need a software program with the ability to track many fields of data. Bill, working with the coaches, created an Access Data Program for us to measure key indicators. The Access program has proved to be very valuable for this new program and is versatile and user-friendly. Bill has been great to come in and train coaches on the Access and also continues to make changes to the program as needed. The software program is customized to our coaching needs and saved Countryside YMCA the cost of paying for the program. He started working with the coaching program March 2014 and has put a significant amount of hours into this program, and continues to update and tweak it as needed. It is also being looked at by other Ys for the same type of program. We also lost our Volunteer Access Program during a system failure and Bill was once again able to help us out and get that program updated.
Bill leads a Men’s Bible study on Wednesday mornings at the Y; providing a venue for men to learn and put into practice biblical truths in everyday life. Recently he worked with others from Antioch Church and Countryside YMCA staff in organizing the Family Unplugged Night. This event brought families together for a meal and games. Each family had an opportunity to enjoy working and laughing together without benefit of electronic media.
July 2015 - Rob Johnston
Rob is a retired YMCA CEO that has been volunteering regularly with our Y Swim Lesson program. Most recently, he was a volunteer swim instructor for the "Lebanon 4th Grade Begin-to-Swim" program. He was here every day the 4th graders came to swim. He is such a great role model for not only the students but our staff as well! Rob is a true example of our mission, vision, and values in action!
June 2015 - Mackenzie Harper
One terrible day, Countryside YMCA had a power failure, and then a power surge, resulting in the loss of most of our Access Volunteer Data Base. MacKenzie had a couple of weeks before she had to leave to start a new job and offered to create a new database for us. Over the course of two weeks, she spent about 20 hours working very diligently to get a new system in place. She would come in early in the morning, later in the evening, and sometimes on the weekend to work on this project for us. She was very dedicated and professional about her commitment to making sure that we had a working program, and we are extremely grateful for all she did.
Rick has been very active in several of our events. He was very active and helpful with the Veteran’s Day Celebration. The day before the event, he helped to set up chairs. He was here throughout the event, helping with whatever needed to be done, and then stayed to break down and clean up afterward. He spent the afternoon and evening hauling and loading chairs into a truck and then transporting and delivering them until late in the evening.
He has also volunteered for other events such as the golf outing, the Staff ice cream social, and preparing mailers. He also played an important role in the success of our Gala. He helped us with so many behind the scenes activities, just always willing to help with whatever was needed.
Rick has his own print shop and tools and has been creating professional-looking posters for us. He is able to hand cut cardboard figures and heroes to help us promote various events and programs. He has a great skill for making our handmade work look as professional as possible.
Volunteer of the Year 2015
Ron has been selected as the Volunteer of the Year. He is very dedicated to increasing awareness about our Community Outreach programs, especially in the business community. He has taken a leadership role in contacting business to let them know all that the Y is doing to help strengthen our community and provide youth development. Ron is a real champion for Countryside YMCA.
Jan has been a member of Countryside YMCA since 2010 and she has been volunteering in the Youth and Family department since then. Her favorite activities are the Kids Night Out and Breakfast with the Easter Bunny. She really enjoys playing with the kids. She also helps out at most of the larger events that we hold such as the Mud-O-Ween and that Kid’s Tri. Jan has proved to be an excellent volunteer for us, she is very reliable and has never missed an event.
Jan likes to work out in the Cardio Strength Center and spend time with her granddaughter.
John is the meet director for the swim team. John dedicates many hours to organizing our volunteers, setting up jobs, assisting in ensuring all equipment is operable, and handling issues that arise at meets. This position requires answering to any complaints or concerns that may arise during the course of the meet. John does this in a very friendly manner to our visitors. He handles all situations in a very professional manner and whenever possible finds a solution. If he can't find the solution he does whatever he possibly can to help satisfy the person.
John brings great direction and organization to our meets. He can be found instructing a meeting, timing a race, running to the store to buy equipment that may have run out or broken during the meet, pushing a mop and anything in between. His position is vital to the success of the team as our hosted meets
For the last three years, Dick Ackerman has volunteered to help build the Mud-O-Ween course. He has been an integral part of the in making the Mud-O-ween event successful. We really depended on him. In fact, he was probably Bill Wilson’s right-hand volunteer for course construction. Dick volunteered numerous hours over three months to build and clean up the course for this event. He takes a lot of pride in helping to make this event successful and safe for everyone. Many times Dick would take extra time to check to ensure that the obstacles we needed were in place and that the course was clear of hazardous debris. We really appreciated all the time and dedication that he has spent to make the Mud-O-Ween a success.
Pete Epperson volunteered to provide the construction of the cabinets for storage in our new Literacy outreach program at East Ridge, which has taken a period of approximately 6 weeks. He and Carissa have volunteered to be active participants in supporting this important preschool program financially, as well as through man power volunteer hours.
Special Teen Volunteer
I would like to recommend Morgan Romano, age 14 for Volunteer of the Month. He started volunteering when he was 12 years old with boys gymnastics classes, preschool gymnastics, and Gymnastics camps. He has grown into a wonderful young man. He has learned how to be a good volunteer and work with kids of all ages even preschoolers. He has learned what needs to be done without being asked, from setting up obstacle courses to getting snacks together and much more.
He is very kind, respectful, and caring with all the kids and staff. He shares what he has been taught in gymnastics and the kids love working with him.
Jeff has volunteered every year (4) for the Healthy Kids Triathlon by completing proper helmet fittings on every child’s bike helmet prior to the race. (149 this year)
In addition, he has given of his talents during the race on the bike trail.
This year he provided critical leadership as the lead volunteer for the bike portion of the triathlon. He made sure the bike trail was lined with 15-20 volunteers to ensure the course was safe and ready in case of an emergency. Not only did Jeff handle the bike trail and volunteers, but he also came in at 6:00am race day to make sure all sections of the run route on the nature trail were free of debris for safe running.
Jeff is a volunteer with a true Y spirit!
Stacey is one of our awesome volunteers in the Stolle Center. She really enjoys being part of the Stolle Center and caring for the members. Some of her tasks are to greet members, data entry and cleaning, but she will do anything else that is asked of her. She is always willing to help out at a moments notice, which is greatly appreciated. Stacey also helps out at most of our social functions without our even having to ask her. She is just a great lady, and we enjoy having her help. She has been volunteering for about 6 months now.
Martina is one of our awesome volunteers with our Gymnastics Booster Club. She has been the treasurer for the past two years. In addition to the general Booster Club account, she also is in charge of 72 individual gymnast’s accounts. As the Treasurer, she also has to keep track of all the fundraisers, meet fees, uniform sales, and much, much more. Another part of her job is inputting scores for our home meets and printing reports for the Coaches.
Peggy, the gymnastics director, utilizes Martina’s spread sheet skills to track scores from the meets, the gymnast’s improvements, even creating spreadsheets to help with budgeting. She does all this and more, while working a full time job.
We are so grateful to have such a dedicated volunteer in our Gymnastics Booster Club. Thank you for all you do!
Emily has volunteered at Camp for the past two summers and prior to that had attended camp for many years. She is thoughtful, kind and responsible in her dealings with the children and always on time. She has risen to the occasion and provided assistance to camp staff, campers and Y members. Emily will once again be volunteering with camp for the 2014 season and hopefully join us one day as a full-fledged Staff Counselor.
Ron joined Countryside YMCA in the early 80’s. He worked in the Mason area for 28 years, retiring as a regional sales manager in June 2013. Ron has been working with the Financial Development Committee on the Major Gifts Team. He has been helping to build relationships with businesses by connecting them to our community outreach programs, as well as informing them of the various wellness programs that we can offer to their employees. His work has been instrumental in our commitment to increase our outreach programs at the Y.
IT’S EVERYTHING THAT’S RIGHT AND GOOD
Member Story by Raleigh W. Carson
With the collapse of the economic system I was forced to retire and come back to Ohio. Having been a workaholic all my life, and having my life’s worth based mainly on work, I was lost without my profession. I became so lost, and the depression became so overwhelming, that doctors were ready to put me into the Linder Center in fear of what I might do to myself.
Then someone told me about the Y. I hesitated to come at first, since I had literally flunked all gym classes in high school, but I’ve been here nearly every day since. The Y has become an amazing inspiration and has opened up a whole new world to me.
At the Y, I see and experience everything that’s right and good which was missing in my life as a young boy growing up.
I see patience and understanding and the importance of one-on-one guidance and help by those who work, teach, and volunteer here.
I see parents involved and bonding with their kids, and their kids interacting and bonding with each other and with their friends.
I see the results of this involvement on the faces of those who come here to learn and play, no matter what their age or background may be. They grow in self-confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem.
I see all this interaction over and over and over and it continually amazes me and moves me so deeply at times that tears run from my eyes.
For most individuals who grew up with siblings in a fairly average family setting I can understand why they might take all this as natural and common. But as one who grew up alone, whose growing up years were overloaded with anxiety and fears, where self-confidence, self- worth, and self-esteem were almost destroyed and had to be found and rebuilt later in life, it’s a totally different story.
What I see going on here is strangely miraculous. This place is truly inspirational. The kids are all treated as equals and are not judged on what they can or cannot do. How very, very lucky they are to have a place like this to learn.
It’s been a little more than a year since I first came to the Y. My doctors are more than pleased with my progress, and I am, too. In fact, I’m elated. I will be forever grateful that I found the Y.
Andrew Carr - Gymnastics
Andrew Carr is a volunteer coach for the Boys Gymnastics Team. He volunteers on Friday evenings and works with the boys on all their events. Andrew shows the boys how to build good sportsmanship, our core values, and how to work together as a team. He emphasizes how the boys should treat each other and how to pay attention to the coaches. He is a great role model! We are really lucky to have a father who is willing to help us out.
Doug quietly does so many things at this Y. Doug has led the Chaplain group for the past two years and has grown the program in number of chaplains and in impact both years and continues to encourage this group during monthly prayer and share meetings and Chaplain meetings. He challenges the Chaplains to be involved! He provides spiritual support and training for the Chaplains and how to apply it here at the Y. Doug began a Chaplain retreat in Jan 2012 and held one again in 2013 where the Chaplains spend the day planning, praying and setting goals for the new year of Chaplaincy. He's not one to sit and wait for things to happen, he sees the importance of the spiritual needs of our staff and members and wants the Chaplain group to help serve in that way. Doug can be seen most mornings playing ping pong in the gym with the ping pong group. He is not only a ping pong "competitor", but a friend who offers a kind ear, prayer or assistance with just about anything. Doug has been seen in "muscle max" classes, in the prime time area and the chapel/resource room. It is fair to say he is very available to our members and loves to engage in conversation with them. Doug has reached out and is mentoring a staff person here at the Y as well. They engage in conversation several times a month. Doug also participates on our Christian Emphasis committee, has volunteered to speak at many staff trainings and events and is a volunteer that never stop giving to the Countryside Members.
Patrick Sweetman is a long time camper and participant at Countryside YMCA. He has been very involved with the Venture Crew efforts which serve the community. Recently Patrick completed his Eagle Scout project which was to build a covered area for the Y’s Archery Range.
Becky has been a member of the Y for about 9 years. She enjoys being with people and has been volunteering at the North Entry Card Check for several years now. She enjoys her fellow staff, and regularly comes in 2 hours prior to her volunteer shift to give the current staff member a break. She is pleasant and welcoming to members and staff, providing great member service.
The Mud Construction Crew worked for 8 weeks to design, build and then to clean up for the Mud O Ween. Many of the team volunteers brought their own tools to build with and spend countless man hours to bring this event to reality. This event is 100% volunteered driven and completed by the Mud Crew. Members are, Bill Wilson, Dick Ackerman, Kevin Mc Darty, Ronnie Barnes, Tim Pennington, Stacey Finnessy, Gary Crawford and Jim German. Not only does the Mud O Ween raise money for our Annual Campaign, but it also brings the community together to be challenged in a fun way...who knew MUD could be so much fun.
Lauren started volunteering with our Youth In Government program in April of 2013. She had participated in Youth In Government when she was in school and wanted to bring the experience to the youth at Countryside. She works with the teens to help them write bills and cover the areas of government. She recently attended our Recruitment Camp at Camp Lebanon where she helped with the service projects. Even though she has now moved to Cincinnati, she still continues to volunteer with our Youth In Government program and Venture Crew.
Carol Carraway is a long time volunteer that has been heavily involved with the Annual Campaign since 2006. She and her husband are committed to the Y and the community. Carol has been a team captain for several years and helped us increase awareness about our cause in every opportunity that arises. She has also been involved with the knit fit group and the craft fair which raised funds for the campaign as well.
Rob has been a volunteer with Countryside for about a year. He has assisted with swim lessons, the Read to Swim program, and Lebanon City School’s 4th grade Begin to Swim Program. He is also a campaign volunteer for the Annual Campaign. Rob is a retired YMCA CEO/executive. He has served in a variety of positions over his 45 at the Y. Rob has been married to Wendy for 37 years. His two wonderful kids are guidance counselors and members of the Y.
Stephanie is the volunteer who, 4 years ago, started the Mothers Making Strides program at Countryside YMCA. Mothers Making Strides is an organization that teaches women the skills to be able to complete a 5K by the end of 12 weeks. The group meets every Saturday morning for conditioning, and they also mentor them about the Y’s Christian values. At the end of the 12 weeks, they participate in the Making Strides Together 5K. All proceeds from the race benefit the Warren County Backpack Association.
Stephanie is the mother of 3 children and a home healthcare PTA. She feels that it “has been an honor and privilege to continue such a fun and rewarding organization for 4 years! The Y has allowed us to reach women and children in our very own community which has enriched our lives beyond measure.”
Thank you Stephanie for making a difference in our community.
Mike Schuessler is a very active member at Countryside YMCA. He serves as an Ambassador for the Cycle Spin Classes, but last Spring he started an evening beginner outdoor bike ride on Monday nights. He does a wonderful job helping everyone feel welcome and encouraged. Mike brings several years of bike riding and safety to the group.
Andy has been volunteering for our annual charity racquetball tournament since 2005. He helps to promote the event among the racquetball community and volunteers the entire weekend setting up the brackets and making sure all matches are played on time and posts match and tournament results. We greatly appreciate his time and talent to ensure a quality event. Andy and his wife have been members for over 10 years.
Jill Ficke volunteers with our gymnastics team. She has continually been a reliable volunteer and that is so rare to find. She comes and coaches our Level 5 Gymnastics Team 3 days per week and goes to the meets on weekends. She will be going to Nationals in Savannah Georgia with the team this year to help coach them to victory.
Jill herself competed through her college career and is now giving back by donating her time and energy to the team here at the Y. She always has a smile and an encouraging word for all the girls. Jill not only helps coach the team, but she also reaches out to the parents and forms connections with them as well.
Jill is such a joy to work with. The YMCA and the gymnastics team are so lucky to have her as a volunteer!!
Chris and Christina Grahm
Chris and Christina were instrumental in making our Easter Egg hunt a success. They stuffed over 3,000 eggs for the egg hunt. Chris also became the Easter Bunny for both the breakfast and the egg hunt. They really helped make the occasion special for the children. They have been volunteers at the Y now for 3 years, with most of their activities being with the teens. They also like to go fishing and boating.
Liz was the Executive Director of Administration and Technology at Countryside YMCA for 33 years. After her retirement, she wanted to stay involved at the Y, so she began volunteering with the Financial Development and Risk Management Department. Liz brings her expertise to our various projects, helping to advance the mission of the Y. Liz volunteers every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, and enjoys catching up with past friends and making new ones. She is an inspiration to all of us in her passion to remain active, engaged, and connected in the community and especially here at the Y.
Jeff is in his 2nd year as a volunteer swim team coach. He has committed 3 days a week, two hours each day to swim practices. He also attends many of our swim meets, which requires Friday night and Saturday and Sunday mornings, usually around 4 hours each day.
Jeff helps coach the high school age swimmers for the Countryside YMCA Torpedoes swim team. In addition to his valuable swimming knowledge that he passes along to these teens he also helps motivate them to pursue their goals as well as give them leadership and direction in learning the values of the YMCA. Jeff’s time and efforts are invaluable to these kids and to the swim team.
Andrew Rettig, Sam Payne, Elliott Smith
We would like to recognize our team of Volunteer Astronomers for their dedication to learning about this new program and presenting it to Y members, and to the community. All three of the volunteer astronomers attended the training held at the Cincinnati Observatory. After their training, they helped with the Astronomical Awesomeness Staycation and Family Overnights. Their dedication to studying and learning more about the stars and developing this program is laying the foundation for a sustained program to study the heavens here at Countryside, and expand the minds of the community.
Stan has been a member of Countryside YMCA since January 2003 the same month he and his family first moved into Lebanon. Stan has helped at many events over the years including the 2012 Mud-o-ween where he manned an obstacle and took video of each participant sliding down the mud hill. He has worked with other race events wherever he has been needed. He has also used his business connections to purchase items for Y events and the campaign as well as help secure significant corporate financial contributions for the Annual Campaign.