Volunteer Recognition Day 2021

December 5th is International Volunteer Day, and here at the Y, we have some of the best. We asked our staff and teams at each branch to nominate the volunteers who go the extra mile in their support for the Y so we could give them special recognition. 

Thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers for their dedication and service to our community. We couldn't be us without you. 



Judy Carr was just looking to meet some new people when she enrolled in a creative writing class at the Arts Branch Downtown Writers Center.  Since then, she has taken countless writing classes at the Y, and served as chairperson of the Arts Branch Board for four years. She is now an at-large member of the Y Metro Board of Directors where she serves on the Mission Advancement Committee.   


Carol Biesemeyer is a long-time student at the YMCA's Downtown Writers Center, and a regular audience member for the DWC's literary readings. Several years ago, she began serving as Stone Canoe's volunteer Managing Editor. Stone Canoe--a journal published annually by the DWC, and the only literary magazine focused entirely on the work of writers and artists from upstate New York--wouldn't be the same without her efforts! 



Bob Markowski served as the Downtown Advisory Board Chair from 2018 - 2021.  He recently was elevated to the Metro Board of Directors as the Board Chair and rolled off the Downtown Advisory Board in June 2021.  During his time with the Downtown Advisory Board, Bob led many initiatives.  Such initiatives include 2 CEO searches, led the strategic planning process for the association, led the Downtown Branch Task force to determine the future of the Downtown YMCA, has been the key liaison for major gifts to the Downtown YMCA, and is an overall champion of the YMCA. Bob’s leadership has gone way above and beyond for the Downtown YMCA. 


Bob Petrillo is a former YMCA staff member who has retired from the Y and currently resides in the YMCA Senior Citizen Housing apartments.  After Bob’s retirement he pledged to volunteer for the Downtown Y in any way that he could help.  Since his retirement, Bob has helped the Downtown YMCA by serving as a campaigner, assisting when there are staffing shortages, responding to emergencies to assist the front desk at all hours of the night, made phone calls to previous members to engage them to come back, delivers packages to senior tenants each day, conducts well checks on seniors daily, delivers food to seniors and residents when needed, and serves as an overall watch on the entire DT facility 24 hours a day.  Bob has been a huge help to the Downtown YMCA operations during the pandemic and has been a key part of keeping residents, members, and seniors safe. 



Richard DeVito is an experienced developer, real estate broker, and consultant. Richard is a founding member and partner in Paramount Realty Group. Rich is the immediate past chair at the Hal Welsh East Area Family YMCA during which time he led a group of volunteers supporting the Y during one of the most successful years prior to COVID as well as provided leadership and support during one of the most challenging times that our Y and community has ever faced. Rich’s leadership of our advisory board through COVID was one of many important pieces that helped allow the Y to continue being of service to community over the past couple of years. 


Finn O'Brien is a wonderful volunteer for the Sports Department at the Hal Welsh East Area Family Y. Finn put in a ton of hours and always showed up with a smile. He helped out in Primetime as well as in sports for the Youth Basketball League and volleyball clinics. 



From the beginning of the East Y to the formation of the Manlius Board, Chuck Beeler was there each step of the way. He believed in supporting his community by ensuring we were meeting their wants and needs with opportunities, programs and areas to give back. He always was willing to step in to provide his feedback on the way we shared marketing and communication to our members, which was his area of expertise. Chuck’s ability to communicate and connect with others was unmatched and we are truly luck to have such a passionate, supportive individual as a member of our Y Family. 


Our Manlius Tennis Committee were excited to bring back the Summer Tennis Tournament this year to raise money for scholarships to support our tennis community. Aaron Schiffrik and Kara Krueger took on the large role of creating, organizing and running the tournament with the help of fellow tennis friends and raised $3,000. Here is a little bit about what why Kara and Aaron support our Y.   
“We love the YMCA because it has programs for our entire family.  Whether it’s tennis, basketball, swimming, or the school age after care program, we spend a lot of time at the YMCAs in our area and enjoy the sense of community at those facilities.  The Manlius YMCA in particular has a special place in our hearts because of the programs and staff at that location.” 



Geoff Wells is the North board chair after agreeing to stay an extra year. He also sits on the finance committee. He helped with the Strategic plan committee, was a team captain for the annual bike-a-thon for several years, and most recently he has volunteered his time with coaching some of the swim clinics.   



Kelly Pelcher really was an incredible board chair who served for two years, introduced the association to the SADA event, previously chaired the annual campaign and sits on the metro board and served on several metro committees.  She was a guiding force during COVID and her leadership was appreciated by staff and board members. 


Nancy Fisher has been a participant in Paula’s ceramics classes at the Northwest Y since early on. She regularly takes 2 classes per session, and volunteers her time in the studio - organizing, tidying, and most significantly - leading the charge on our twice annual art auction, which raises money for scholarships in the art studio. 


Tom Henry helped start the Youth & Government program 12 years ago, and is still a loyal advisor today.  He’s committed to helping every Monday night and attending the yearly conference in Albany. Here’s his story: 
“I have had a life-long commitment to the social, intellectual, spiritual and civic development of young people. When I retired from teaching in 2009, Tess Kenney from the YMCA contacted me and asked if I would help her start a Youth and Government chapter here. Through the Y I discovered a fantastic program that helps young people achieve all the qualities I hope they carry into adulthood. It has been a wonderful twelve years of both developing good, lasting friendships, and experiencing the joy of seeing young people grow through their engagement in a positive civic process with their peers from around the state. I am grateful that the Y has provided me with this opportunity to continue to serve the community, and more important, that it sponsors such a great experience for young folks to learn, grow and become the constructive citizens we need now and into the future.” 



Dwight Fischer has been a dedicated board volunteer who has led the formation of the SW Branch Advisory Board, has led the branch annual campaign, and has given significant gifts to the Y through his annual campaign pledges.  Dwight is an advocate for the Y in the community and also among the OCC Community and helps to maintain a positive relationship with the college. 


It is with great pleasure to nominate Kevin Denzak, a volunteer and his mentor Kaeleigh Collins at Southwest YMCA of Central New York.  Both of them have been at SW for more than two years.  And both of them are a great asset to the YMCA Family.  Kevin’s main duty is to greet each member with a smile as they walk in or out of the door which he does with perfection. Kevin is great with our members, and he also perform some administrative work when needed. Kaeleigh is always with Kevin and corrects him if needed. She is always willing to help whenever we need her too. She is also great with our members and always willing to help them. She is also fully trained in our POS system. It is great to have them both on my team. 


If you are interested in learning more about volunteering for the Y, stop by your branch or visit our Volunteer Page.