Thanksgiving may be around two weeks away, but that did not prevent the YMCA Club from throwing down a party on Nov. 3, from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. in Judd Union West. Now in its third year, the Thanksgiving Throwdown continued to make strides and implement itself as an annual affair on campus.
“Every year, it gets more and more successful. This year, we raised $1,000 more than we did last year,” senior and YMCA Club President and Senior Program Director Adam Lapointe said. “Union West was pretty packed. There were a lot of people there. I would say we averaged about 350 participants. We had a pretty good showing.”
The YMCA Club worked together with the Student Society for Bridging Diversity club, just as they do with other student-run clubs on campus, to organize and implement the fundraiser. In total, the clubs made $3,300 just from ticket sales and selling water at the door. Not only did Springfield College students attend, but students from outside campuses such as American International College, Western New England University and Springfield Technical Community College were in attendance as well.
“I think to have something like that at Springfield creates a positive environment for people to enjoy a Friday night and not necessarily worry about drinking,” Lapointe said.
Hosting fun, social events such as the Thanksgiving Throwdown is just one portion of what Lapointe and the YMCA Club do on campus. They are an interactive club that offers students a broad range of opportunities.
“Y-Club is multi-faceted. I think the name definitely does scare people away sometimes. We really focus on leadership development, professional development, volunteer service and fun,” Lapointe said. “We work really hard, [and] our semesters are always very busy. We work hard to give opportunities for people to really shine and be a leader on campus, but also it gives them the opportunity to find professional outlets.”
This combination of fun and opportunity is blended masterfully together by the club’s executive board, which strives to meet every aspect of their club’s mission.
One of the club’s largest obstacles to hurdle is breaking the mindset that only YMCA Professional Studies minors can be members in the club. According to Lapointe, approximately 70 percent of the club’s members are non-YMCA minors, while only 30 percent of them fit into that category. Members are involved for other reasons.
“A lot of people think you have to be a YMCA minor to be in YMCA club, and that’s not the case. We are open and welcome to anybody who wants to join the club,” Lapointe said.
Bernadette Raum, a junior and member of the club, is an Art Therapy major, but she took on the YMCA minor after joining the club and becoming more interested.
“The club had a lot of camp internship fairs, and I was looking for a summer internship with my practicum for my art major, so that got me involved,” Raum said.
Although she is not on the executive board, Raum has gained valuable leadership experience through Y-Club and invited non-YMCA minors to join in on the fun.
“The club’s inclusive to everyone. You don’t have to be a ‘Y’ minor to be part of the club. I got a bunch of residents on my floor to join the club, and none of them are ‘Y’ minors,” Raum said. “It allows you to do other activities and opportunities that you wouldn’t normally get. A lot of them went up to Silver Bay with me for a work weekend, and they would have never gone there if it wasn’t for the club.”
Raum just recently helped to run a leadership and values workshop at one of the club’s weekly meetings, which are held every Tuesday at noon, typically in Cheney A and B. She ran the workshop in preparation for this weekend because she and a group of Y-Club members are attending the YMCA Teen Leaders Rally to lead workshops.
“I don’t have to be on the e-board, and I can still contribute to the club, and I can still progress my leadership skills,” Raum said.
Raum also obtained an internship at Silver Bay, a non-traditional YMCA Center in New York in fundraising and development. If not for her participation in Y-Club, she would not have applied for the position.
“It’s opened a lot of doors for me, and I’ve met a lot of people through it, and have been able to network a lot,” Raum said.
Raum’s experience is not an unusual one with the club. The club has a reputation of creating leaders, which is something that Lapointe sees as a point of pride.
“Springfield College prides itself on being leaders on campus. Springfield would be a different place if it wasn’t for the amount of leaders that we create on this campus,” Lapointe said. “We want to give the opportunity for everybody to be able to have those leadership opportunities on campus.”
The Y-Club carries on the college’s rich YMCA tradition by continuing to provide ample opportunities for students on campus. Whether it be for leadership development, professional development, volunteer service, just plain fun or all of the above, the Y-Club aims to open doors for students at Springfield College.