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YMCA STORIES

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Wallingford Family YMCA East Side Exterior Vision

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Livestrong at the YMCA

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Joyce Crebase, member & LiveSTRONG graduate

In 2013, Joyce Crebase was diagnosed with colon cancer. Fighting courageously, her treatment left her feeling weak and exhausted. She needed a way to regain her strength and return to her active lifestyle while caring for an ailing husband. One Sunday, Joyce read about the Wallingford Y’s LIVESTRONG at the YMCA Program in her church bulletin and decided to give it a chance.

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Path to Leadership — Rob Newton & Amber Albe

One area of focus for the YMCA is youth development. Some of the youth in our programs spend a significant amount of time in our care, and we take our responsibility seriously. Sometimes, these children develop into Y leaders, and we consider ourselves very lucky when that happens. The experience that these children had in our programs was so impactful that they want to remain a part of our community, and they want to, in turn, help to develop the youth of the future! Two of our leaders took this path to leadership within the Wallingford Family YMCA, having similar experiences in different programs, and meeting for the first time just recently.  The immediate connection between these two was obvious, and the stories that they told were very similar.

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Tammy Mastroianni Profile Pic

Tammi Mastroianni, employee since 1994

When Tammi first joined the Wallingford Family YMCA in 1994, it was as a social work intern. She had every intention of moving on to a career with the CT State Department of Children & Families, but there was something about the YMCA that held her. Twenty-six years later, she’s still with us, and the difference she has made during that time has been tremendous.

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Race4Chase 2018

History of Race4Chase at the Wallingford Family YMCA

“Chase Kowalski was an amazing son, brother, and friend who was taken from us on 12/14/12 in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.” From this tragedy has grown the CMAK Foundation and Race4Chase, “turning tragedy into triumph through healing.” In 2016, the Wallingford Family YMCA was chosen as one of the YMCAs in Connecticut to receive a grant to offer the Race4Chase program free of charge to children in our community for the first three years. This program is a triathlon training that culminates in an event at the end of the summer that brings about 600 kids from Connecticut YMCAs together to swim, bike and run their way to victory!

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Fit to Go at the Wallingford Family YMCA

Studies show that students are leading less healthy lives and have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. There is an alarming rate of obesity, diabetes, and coronary disease with children. Kids are spending more time on personal electronic devices and less time playing outside.  With an increase in working parents, families eat together less often and tend to eat more processed grab-and-go foods. As a response to this growing health and wellness crisis, the Wallingford Family YMCA began the Fit to Go program to help families lead healthier lives and supplement our in-school physical education resources.

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Nancy Early, employee since 1989

Nancy joined the Wallingford Family YMCA in October 1989. She was new to the area, and, as a young mom, she was seeking friends for herself and for her children. One day, her friend Laurie, who had been working in the YMCA’s child watch program, asked if Nancy would be interested in working for the Y. As Laurie stepped out of the Y, Nancy stepped into her role. This was just the beginning of 30 years as a Wallingford Family YMCA employee!

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Phyllis Drescher, employee since 1970

As a newly promoted black belt in Judo, I went to the Wallingford YMCA and asked to teach a children’s class.  This was in 1970 and it was my first teaching job.  There were 100 children registered and eighty of them showed up for class.  The gym was covered with wall to wall mats and the kids shoes were lined up neatly against the wall.  With that many in class, safety was my priority so that no one would get hurt.  The children were taught respect, safety in the class and how to take care of their partner when doing throws and wrestling on the mats.  This was a fun class for everyone.

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Fishbein/YMCA Community Road Race

History of the Fishbein/YMCA Community Road Race

Almost 50 years ago, a tradition started in Wallingford that would grow and change significantly over the years, bringing organizations throughout the town together to collaborate in an effort to support residents in need. Roz Gallagher, a lifetime resident of Wallingford, says, “My mother, Johanna Manfreda Fishbein, was the original organizer of the Race along with Ned Roessler from Choate Rosemary Hall. She was the driving force behind it for just under thirty years. At the time of her passing in 1997, it was decided to name the Race in her honor to perpetuate her memory and spirit.”

In 1977, soon after the Community Road Race started, the Wallingford Family YMCA hosted their first Road Race, with proceeds benefitting the charitable organization that never turns anyone away for their inability to pay.

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Larry & Judy Singer, members for 40+ years

When Larry & Judy Singer come in to talk about their time at the Y, Larry is wearing his “20 year” Wallingford Family YMCA sweatshirt. Now over 20 years old, the sweatshirt shows how long this couple has been a part of the Y, but also shows how the Y has been an important part of their lives. Larry’s experience with the Y began in West Haven, where he was “adult enough” as a fifth grader to ride the bus from school to the Y to go swimming on his own. When Larry & Judy had their own kids, they, too, grew up in the pool, theirs being the one at the Wallingford Y.

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