By Nick Pantages
After two slower years dealing with COVID and hybrid learning, the YMCA Club hosted a job fair Feb. 13 in the Dodge Room at the Student Union. These job fairs provide an opportunity for students who are looking for a variety of careers, whether it be full-time after graduation, internships required for graduation or summer jobs for students.
Scott Woodaman, the director of YMCA relations at Springfield, helps organize these events, and recognizes the importance of jobs at the YMCA, where the experience gained working there is unlike any you could receive at a more common summer job.
“When you have experience at a YMCA summer camp, you are leading groups of young people everyday, you are learning time management, having difficult conversations with parents,” Woodaman said. “Having these experiences translates to any career.”
The importance of job fairs like this to help students get transferable skills to many careers is important, but that is not all the club does.
The club also has many other big events planned. One is a leadership summit that will be held in March at Lake George, N.Y.. About 40 students will be brought by the YMCA Club to the Silver Bay YMCA after being nominated by peers or staff.
“[The students] learn and develop into being future leaders of Springfield College, possibly the YMCA, and in their communities at home,” Woodaman said.
The real crowning jewel of the YMCA club’s events is a trip to the Cheyenne River Reservation in Dupree, S.D.. There, students will get the chance to help build tiny homes for the Lakota tribe, who lives on the reservation.
“We went there in 2019, and we started building tiny homes to give shelter and create safety and security for people in that community and on the reservation,” Woodaman said.
Because housing security is questionable on the reservation, these tiny homes desperately provide affordable shelter to the Lakota people.
The tribe also gives students a chance to immerse themselves in the culture of the Lakota Tribe, while also taking trips to the Badlands National Park and more.
Applications for this trip are due on Feb. 28.
On campus, the YMCA club hosts meetings biweekly on Mondays, in the A+B rooms in Cheney Hall.
These meetings provide an easy pathway for students to assimilate themselves into the YMCA club, and they also do a bunch of events to help out and engage with the community. Some events the club has participated in were the Winter Walk to end homelessness in Springfield earlier this month, which provided students an easy way to bond with the community, as well as making Valentine’s Day cards for children in hospitals.
“Those are the types of events that we’re really trying to intentionally partner with our community,” Woodaman said.
The next time the club meets will be on Monday, Feb. 27 in the Cheney A+B rooms, where attendees can expect another fun program to help them learn valuable skills, immerse themselves in the YMCA network, and help out the greater Springfield community.
Photo: YMCA Club