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Leading and Learning Through the YMCA

default-featimagePat Kenney
Staff Writer

Young Men invented it, the Village People immortalized it, and Springfield College perfected it.

YMCA roots, starting with the School for Christian Workers, were planted at SC some 128 years ago and have been growing ever since.

This past Friday, April 12, myself,  along with five other YMCA professional studies students and the Director of the YMCA Office, Harry Rock, ventured up to Albany, N. Y. hoping to extend those SC roots of ours.

Upon entering the ‘Capital District’, half the group was asleep and the other half, including myself, were watching the rain roll towards us ever so slowly. By the time we hit our first destination, it was a complete down pour.

Our first stop was at the office of John J. Hayden, the Vice President of Human Resources of the Capital District YMCAs. Sitting in Hayden’s office, I realized that the YMCA isn’t solely a Springfield College specialty.

YMCAs are global, and are important and touch every community they are in. Every YMCA is different.

“If you have seen one Y, then you have seen one Y,” said Rock about the uniqueness of each one.

The Capital District YMCAs consist of one administrative office, where we first stopped to talk with Hayden, eight main branches, four satellite locations and two camp locations.

The Capital District YMCAs have three main initiatives that they strive for daily, weekly, yearly, and so on. Programs, focused in each initiative, help to involve members and to expand the YMCA’s growth.

Youth Development, one of the three initiatives, is the nurturing of potential in every child and teen. Some programs that help youth development are childcare services, swim lessons, youth sports, etc.

Another initiative is Healthy Living, which is focused on improving the nation’s health and well-being through programs like Family Fun Nights, group exercise classes and much more.

Military outreach, educational scholarships and volunteering are programs that help to build social responsibility, which is the third initiative.

Setting and carrying out these initiatives have helped the Capital District YMCAs to have about 102,000 members, 5,000 camp participants and 3,000 swim lesson participants.

After getting the debrief, all five freshmen, our lone senior, Harry Rock and John Hayden all got in the Springfield College van and headed towards our second destination; the Schenectady YMCA.

The Schenectady YMCA has two sites. One is the newer main site for people who want to work out and use their childcare facilities. This site also provides a place for the local college to come and play their home basketball games as well.

The second is a much older, run down building where men who are unable to support themselves can live and get back on their feet. This site houses about 150 men and provides food, shelter and a safe living environment for the men who are struggling either financially or with anything else.

It was amazing to see such a facility, which was very worn down and very old, still being used for an outstanding purpose. The Capital District is building a new building for their residents that will be opening soon.

After a quick lunch break at Smokey Bones, we headed off to our third and final stop of the day, the Greenbush Area YMCA. Talk about the complete opposite.

The Schenectady YMCA is an urban YMCA surrounded by a SUNY school and businesses located in downtown Schenectady, The Greenbush YMCA is a suburban YMCA surrounded by houses.

Walking through the Greenbush Y, I realized that to run a YMCA you have to be concerned about the people. The people are your main priority, and if they aren’t happy, then you do not have a job.

The Greenbush branch showed an excellent array of activities for its members and displayed great customer service. We were all very impressed. Not only that, but the Greenbush YMCA is now home to an SC alum named Tys Bailey-Yavonditte.

While at Springfield, Tys had no idea that the YMCA was such an established and popular organization throughout the United States and the rest of the world.

That made me wonder: are there a lot of students that have no information about the Y-Club here on campus or about the YMCA in general? Springfield College roots are filled with the YMCA, and it is a very important program here on campus.

The Y-Club meets every Tuesday at noon in Cheney A & B, and we always want new students to help expand the club. Not only do we meet on Tuesdays, but we also go on trips like the one we went on last Friday.

If you are interested in joining Y-Club or have questions about the minor, feel free to email Erin Friedman at, or Harry Rock at


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