Kim and her family relocated to Broome County three years ago. After extensive research of many communities, she and her husband decided Vestal was a great fit for their family. once they settled in, Kim got caught in difficult cycle. Her bad knees impaired her ability to exercise. The lack of exercise led to a more sedentary lifestyle that exacerbated the situation. So when her neighbor invited her to a “YMCA of Broome County Bring a Friend” promotion in February 2016, Kim was “in”. She said she tried a water fitness class and loved it!


With the joiner fee waived, she decided to “Just Do It,” and became a YMCA member.  She enjoyed the YMCA water fitness classes and said the teachers were wonderful. The YMCA helped her make some of her first connections in her new community. She mentioned some special YMCA friendships. Jill, Nancy, Charlotte and Al welcomed her and helped her get acclimated to the pool routines, including the water volleyball games between classes. She also had the opportunity to meet people when she subbed at the YMCA Welcome Desk at both branches. She said she finally felt like she was becoming part of the community.

2017 - 9 - 10 Early 23rd bday celebration for Christopher - Christopher Nistico - Dinno, Kim and Christopher Nistico

Kim used her pool time to prepare for a knee replacement in November. Aubrey Hazel, the YMCA on-site Lourdes Athletic Trainer, gave her a few exercises to prepare for the upcoming surgery. She also participated in a few of Sue’s Joints in Motion Class. She knew the value of pre-hab, so she dutifully worked out one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening everyday with her UHS PT prescribed therapy. Her post-surgical therapy included 2 hours of therapy with leg lifts 4x’s day.


Kim said her world became very small and she couldn’t really go anywhere for months following the surgery. This past July, when her husband tore his hamstring, she stepped up to help and injured her lower back, dislocating the sacro iliac joints. She went to the chiropractor and found relief through his adjustments. She was finally able to return to the YMCA Rusty Hinges Water Fitness Class late this summer.


Kim is now committed to working on her flexibility, balance and building up her muscles. She wants to trade her sedentary lifestyle for a healthier life, that includes losing weight. Aubrey and the YMCA continue to support Kim in reaching these goals.


She said water exercises at the YMA are for those who hate exercising. The classes are so much fun they make you want to do them! She says that it has been a pleasure becoming part of the YMCA family!


Kim and her husband improved enough to take a once-in-a-lifetime road trip late in August. They traveled Golconda Marina in Illinois on August 21st, 2017 for an awesome view of the solar eclipse in totality!

August 21, 2017 - Total Solar Eclipse - Golconda Marine Recreational Area, Golconda, Illinois - TOTALITY

August 21, 2017 – Total Solar Eclipse – Golconda Marine Recreational Area, Golconda, Illinois – TOTALITY



Prevention is better than cure! (Dutch Proverb)

The National Council on Aging first designated the first day of Fall as Fall Awareness Day back in 2008. September 22, 2017 marks this year’s Fall Awareness Day. According to CDC (Center of Disease Control), one-fourth of all Americans 65 years and older will experience a fall each year. Falls lead in the cause of death and injury for senior adults. Each 11 seconds, a senior will seek emergency room care for a fall. Even more sobering, every 19 seconds, an older person will die from injuries sustained in a fall.

The YMCA of Broome is committed to helping minimizing the risk of falls in our community through this year’s Fall Awareness Day information and programs/classes offered through the year.

Sue Stella, YMCA of Broome Moving For Better Balance Instructor, says: Falls are NOT part of normal aging and are PREVENTABLE! These preventable factors contribute to falls:
* High Blood Pressure-Have it checked and keep it under control
* Medications-Check with your pharmacist to see if any medications cause dizziness.
* Keep your rooms lighted. Make sure you have night lights in bathrooms or areas you may have to walk in the night.
* Area rugs/mats and extension cords around your home are a tripping hazard. Remove them!
Plus, these suggested by the CDC and the NCOA (National Council on Aging) and Steadi Initiative through the CDC for monitoring or prevention:
*Vitamin D Levels
*Additional Safety Devices, such as grab bars and shower seats
*Communicating with your physician about unsteadiness, falls or fear of falls

Sue also mentioned enrolling in the MOVING FOR BETTER BALANCE Class to:
*Improve your balance
*Reduce your risk of falling
*Gain independence
*Increase your confidence

Tues/Thurs 11-12:00

There are still a few openings. Since the classes each build on the prior ones, it is important to start by the second week. There will be future classes. Sign up at the Welcome desk.

Yoga, Core Stability, Pilates and Aqua Pilates are just a few of the additional classes offered year-round at the YMCA Broome that improve core strength, muscle stability, posture and balance.

The YMCA also has a Lourdes Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) on-site who is available to work one-on-one with YMCA members to help improve balance and reduce the risk of falls through a personalized execise plan. Please stop at the Welcome Desk for more info.

You can also ask a Wellness Instructor for any assistance or guidance you made need in the Fitness Center at both YMCA branches, especially when working on balance exercises!

Another option for more personalized plans to meet your specific wellness goals are YMCA personal trainers. PT’s work with members at flexible and mutually-agreed upon times. There is an additional fee for this beneficial one-on-one service.


The Monday Night YMCA Recreational Sand Volleyball League held play-offs on Monday, August 14 in Otsiningo Park. The 16 teams were narrowed to a seeding of 6. Each team required 2 males and 2 females on their roster. The 6 Lost Doggers and 6 Airborners won their team a place in the championship match of the evening. Each defeated 2 other teams in side-by-side games played on adjacent sand courts. Due to the great turn-out this summer, some of the teams had not played one another during the regular season. So when the two finalists took their places on opposite sides of the net, they were meeting for the first time. Everyone, including Caleb, the ref, commented that the teams seemed pretty evenly matched based on their records. The Airborners took the first set; the Lost Doggers took the second. The third set ended without a winner. So they faced off in a 15 point win-all match, as the sun dropped behind a mountain. Not sure anyone could have predicted how similar their abilities were until they tied the score at 14-14! After 4 rounds of play, both the teams and daylight were equally worn down as night crept across the court. The Lost Dogs spiked one last volley over the net that landed unanswered in the dark shadows on the other side. The Lost Doggers and the Airborners consoled and congratulated with traditional team lines and handslaps, followed up with a very sincere,”Good game.”

The Lost Doggers’ 3 males and 3 females, celebrated with a few quick high 5’s, back pats and victory shouts. They stuck around long enough for a team photo and to introduce themselves. They also noted 2 of their members were seniors. One senior, Emmie, played for her first time on the Lost Dogs. But definitely not for the first time ever; she earned her share of “Rufios” for her spikes. Emmie is a member of the UE class of 2018 and Varsity Volleyball Team. Jamie, the other senior, has played on the Lost Dog team since it began more than 20 years ago. He is the only original player left. Let it be just be said, he gained his senior status by qualifying for AARP. (One or two additional team members are not far behind in years or time on the team.) Despite the age span, the team excelled in reading one another, knowing one another’s strengths and anticipating the next move. They reset and regrouped when they fell behind, but never lost the joy of playing the game. 1sandvball

So the 2017 YMCA of Broome County Coed Sand Volleyball League ended another smashing season as night fell. Not just the finalists, but each participant found a great way to stay fit and have fun. Like all the YMCA Adult Sports, the evening games also offered many opportunities for social interactions that encouraged a sense of belonging and friendship. Team spirit, co-operation and other Christian values first discovered in the 1890’s through the physical education programs at YMCA Training Schools make YMCA Adult League play a good time of R&R.

Many individuals may be aware that basketball began at a such a YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891; less may know that volleyball also started at a YMCA school just a few miles away and a few years later. According to the YMCA World Challenge Website, “… in 1895, William G. Morgan, an instructor at the YMCA in Holyoke, Massachusetts, sought to invent a game for his classes that would involve less physical contact than basketball. The result was volleyball – a mix of basketball, baseball, tennis and handball. The net that he used was 6 feet 6 inches high, just taller than the average man.” (It was first named, “Mintonette,” but renamed after Dr. Alfred T. Halstead, a spectator at the first exhibition game, suggested the name, “volley ball.”) 11sandvall

“Volleyball soon became extremely popular in the USA and, through the YMCA network, spread first to other parts of the Americas and then to other continents. By 1951 it was being played by over 50 million people in over 60 countries. In 1957 volleyball also became an Olympic sport.”

Though the Sand Volleyball league ended, please check out the YMCA Indoor Volleyball Leagues held during the fall and winter. Such a great way to stay active when the colder weather keeps you indoors.

Volleyball (indoor & sand)

Cheyenne, Wyoming, Here Comes Cathy!

On Monday, August 28th, 2017, a group of YMCA Water Fitness enthusiasts met for a farewell breakfast. Cathy, a member of the AquaBody Blast class, planned on moving to Cheyenne, Wyoming the following week. Cathy exercised harder than anyone else in the pool, so intense other members stepped back in awe of her…and to avoid the wake she created. (In fact, that morning at the diner one participant, Pauline, grinned as she “chided” Cathy for all the splashes she endured from her enthusiastic work-outs.) Cathy earned greater admiration from the group as they watched her bounce back after multiple major surgeries in the 5+ years since joining the class. Cathy’s energy belied the unexplained, and oft medically-dismissed health issues she had dealt with since she was child, including lack of coordination, dizzy spells, digestive disorders and losses of sight and hearing.

In a 2014 YMCA Blog post, Cathy shared, “My dad died 3 months before my 31st birthday, His autopsy read, “congestive heart failure,” but he had been sick for years with digestive disorders. Despite what my family or physicians thought, I was convinced whatever killed my dad was also killing me. Ten doctors and three months later I got one last birthday present from my father: vindication and a name for my condition…Von Hippel Lindau Disease (VHL)!

The doctor who diagnosed my disease ordered several tests. The tests revealed multiple cysts and tumors through out my body; classic in VHL patients. Computer searches helped me discover the VHL Family Alliance and directed me to studies by the NIH (National Institute of Health.) I learned VHL had a genetic component. The NIH accepted me in their study group and also determined I had kidney cancer. They operated on that tumor and then on a large one in my ear. In the 23 years since, I have undergone 23 surgeries, including 12 major surgeries, experimental drugs and more medical tests than I want to think about.”Goodbye member

Cathy then stated, “I set a goal when I was first diagnosed to make it to my 50th birthday…March 10, 2014.” With her excellent medical care and the YMCA of Broome she has! She said she heard about the LIVESTRONG program at the YMCA of Broome in 2012 and signed-up. Her LIVESTRONG personal trainer/facilitator taught her how to exercise and use the equipment in the Wellness Center. She followed up with YMCA Fitness Classes at least 3 days a week, including the 9 a.m. AquaBody Blast Class and Tai Chi.

Cathy shared her gratitude for the YMCA. She mentioned how each instructor encouraged her until she became confident in her abilities. She said the YMCA has made her physically and mentally stronger for her busy work schedule and for her future health battles. Those future battles have arrived in a steady stream over the last 3 years. The removal of her cancerous pancreas left her a functional Type I Diabetic with more additional complications. Other major surgeries since and those she still faces forced Cathy to give up her retail manager job and reach the decision to relocate to Cheyenne, Wyoming so her mom can help her.

Three years ago, the ever-positive and determined Cathy said, “I have achieved far more than I ever thought possible in my fitness and wellness journey!” At breakfast she explained she is now part of multiple NIH studies. At least one of which is a 30 year study…and she fully intends to reach that long-range goal, too! She checked out the Cheyenne YMCA online. She’s ready to share her enthusiasm for how the Broome County YMCA helped her! She set to try their facility and go make some waves in the pool.

The dozen who showed up for breakfast represented dozens more who have been touched by Cathy’s perseverance and very positive attitude. The LIVESTRONG Program members said goodbye at their annual picnic in August. YMCA staff and Cathy’s friends are filling almost every minute of her calendar with farewell gatherings.

Cathy, the YMCA of Broome County thanks you. Your example in great adversity inspires us all! Wishing you health, wellness…and some visits back to the 607!

Goodbye August; hello September! Just after Labor Day students across Broome County will trade their summer flipflops and sun-faded tee-shirts for brand new backpacks and outfits. YMCA member and retired school psychologist, Maggie Nugent, offered some simple thoughts before the yellow buses arrive. Her observations and wisdom gained over 25 years presents practical ideas to smooth the transition and keep families connected during the school year.
She encouraged families to establish daily routines. These routines support every child with the security of an expected structure. Then she offered these guidelines for what she called, “the ‘doing and busyness’ of getting ready for school and coming home from school”:

She said, “It is important to turn off technology (phone/TV/computer/other digital devices) and TALK with your child.” Some relevant topics include:
*home routines
*classroom work partners & friends at school
*fire drill & other evacuaton routines
She said, “CONVERSATION will :
*help your children feel supported in expressing themselves
*build their vocabulary
*clear up their confusion on any aspect of their day
*Shows your interest in their daily activities
*Convey you value their feelings, their opinions….and THEM!”

If your young children are just starting school, changing schools or feeling a little anxious about the first day, reading a story together might open up conversations and put them at ease. Check your public library or local bookstore for an array of delightful picture books on these subjects. Barnes and Noble featured an entire display of creative School Stories” covering everything from the first day of kindergarten, to teachers, to getting alonging with others. Here are a few favorites:
Popular Children’s Series:
The Berenstein Bears Go to School
Peppa Pig and the Busy Day at School
Pete the Cat Rocking in My School Shoes
Curious George’s First Day of School

Clever, Comical and Creative School Books:
If You Ever wanted to Bring an Alligator to School, DON’T; Elise Parsley
If You Take a Mouse to School;Laura Numeroff
The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School; Laura Murray
Skippyjon Jones Class Action; Judy Schachner
How to Get Your Teacher Ready; Jean Regan

Starting Kindergarten:
Mis Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten; Joseph Slate
K is for Kindergarten; Erin Dealy
On the First Day of Kindergarten; Tish Rabe

New School:
First Day Jitters; Julie Danneberg

Getting Along/Conflict Resolution:
May I Have a Word; Caron Levis
Amanda Panda Quits Kindergarten; Candice Ransom

Celebrate the New School Year
Tuck a small surprise, an encouraging note or a silly joke in your child’s backpack.
Go out for ice cream on the last day of summer vacation or after first day of school and chat about the best/favorite and hardest/least favorite part of starting school.
Join in the free Family Fun and Literacy Awareness Day @ the Broome County Public Library, on Saturday September 23, 2017 (details below)

Year after year, my wife, Joy, signed our three kids up for summer swim lessons at Highland Park and the West Family Y during the winter months. Our oldest, 14 year old Grace, took her first Mommy and Me classes at West Y pool at 6 months old. I remember watching Grace in the Highland Park baby pool for lessons like it was yesterday! Over the years, Grace advanced through every level of YMCA swim lessons, including diving last summer. Her passion for the pool motivated her to join Binghamton’s Modified Swimming and Diving Team. The swim program built her confidence and inspired other ambitions. She was very excited about the opportunity to become a YMCA Volunteer Swim Assistant this year. Grace is also a competitive dancer at the Fuse Dance Center and takes gymnastics for tumbling.

Parker, our 10 year old, also took multiple swim lessons sessions at the West Family YMCA and Highland Park every year. Parker also started in the baby pool and is now taking diving, when not playing soccer or swimming UNAC.

Our youngest, 6 year old Bennett, had a really rough start in preschool summer swim lessons at Highland Park in 2013. All the YMCA staff made Bennett feel safe and encouraged. Alex, the site supervisor, connected especially well and managed to put him more at ease. Alex said that was her first summer teaching for the Y and she was actually instructing Parker’s class. One of the other instructors brought Bennett over to her in hopes being with his brother might help him feel safe enough to attempt swimming. He made a little progress. When he returned the next summer, Alex offered to work one-on-one with Bennett.

Alex said, “My main goal was to just get him in the pool and swimming a little. I tried everything I could think of to get him in the water. I felt it was so important to make sure kids feel comfortable in the water and can swim. By the summer of 2015, Bennett improved his water skills, but would still only work with me. I found once we joined in with an actual class, we finally started to get somewhere!”

Alex went on to say, “Last summer I spent a lot of sessions instructing Grace and Parker in the competitive group. Then their mom aproached me about working with Bennett again to encourage him to work harder. Of course I said, ‘Yes!’ Bennett made so many improvements in his swimming and confidence level within the group. This summer he is even doing our diving class with Sara. We have so much fun watching him try new dives and his comical antics. His silly personality certainly took over once he conquerored his fears. But don’t worry, his sister Grace does not let him fool around too much now that she is a Teen Volunteer. Sara said she loves seeing how much he has improved over these past couple summers. I am so glad his parents kept bringing him back so we could continue working with him to achieve a comfortable level of swimming. Bennett and his family really helped me understand the important role I play in the kids’ lives who come to Highland Park year after year. I couldn’t be more proud of Bennett and his hard work!”

Matt said he and Joy were life guards and swim instructors many years ago. He guarded for Binghamton City pools and she was actually a YMCA swim instructor at Highland Park. They are grateful the 4 years Alex and the other staff worked with Bennett allowed him to develop the confidence to learn to dive like his siblings. They are also pleased Grace wants to take swim instructor classes and train to be a life guard just like them!

Because of the YMCA, now their whole family can,”Just keep swimming!”

On a warm summer Thursday evening, I made my way to the Binghamton branch of the YMCA of Broome to try the 6:30 p.m. Cycling Class. I found the Cycling Studio tucked in a corner of the Wellness Center. I brought along a hand towel and a water bottle in anticipation of trying the cardio-pumped workout. The first participant to arrive, Maria, carried a mega water bottle and a bike helmet! Both left me wondering what I was in for during the next hour. I chatted briefly with her and quickly learned she had taken cycling classes with nearly all the YMCA instructors. She greeted Billy, the Y-Fit instructor, when he stopped by the Wellness Center before his class. Found out she had taken this intense cardio/functional fitness class as well. The next attendee to arrive was a friend of Maria’s she met through their volunteer efforts with VINES, a local group tending community gardens. Maria introduced Chris and explained she invited him and he was also a first-timer. I breathed a silent sigh of relief…until I learned Chris’ YMCA workouts included Wellness Center cardio work-outs and lap swimming. He had also recently joined a Triathlon Club and biked outdoors. He said he was working toward running a half marathon when he injured his meniscus. Even with his injury, I felt uncertain of my ability to keep up in a class with such highly trained athletes. in fact, I almost convinced myself I’d take a seat in the back of the room as an observer, when Jen, the instructor, arrived. I knew Jen as a fellow Aquatics Staffer. Though I had never taken one her classes, I appreciated her reputation; she taught with enthusiam, professionalism and excellent cuing.

Jen quickly put me at ease as she set up for class. She greeted the participants as they arrived. The regulars adjusted their cycles to accomodate their height, leg and arm length. Jen helped Chris and I to comfortably “fit” ourselves to ours. She carefully explained how the cycles operated as she loaded her music. She warned us the workout would get intense at times but we were free to choose whether to gear-up (changing the tension as we pedaled to produce more resistance on the chain by turning a knob clockwise), stay at the same level or gear down (turning the knob counter-clockwise). She said part of the class we would sit to pedal and part of it we would stand. She warned that standing, especially when paired with a gear-up would quickly raise the cardio effects. She said we could keep the tension even and/or opt out by maintaining a seated position or returning to a seated position if necessary.

I chose to stay on the cycle the entire class. My machine required multiple adjustments because of my short stature…but I had just enough leg length to pedal. Jen took us through a short warm-up with a variety of stretches, then gradually increased the intensity. When we reached a steady level, she switched from the bright overhead lights to colored lights. The room temperature seemed to immediately drop a few more degrees in the already cool room. As we progressed in our stands with gear-ups simulating travel uphill and through sand, we appreciated the brisk air as we grabbed our hand towels to wipe the sweat beading on our foreheads. The most intense sets included a short series of “jumps” accomplished by switching beween standing and sitting. Jen threw in a more moderate set and finished up with an “ominious” song that pushed everyone to exert all their energy in one final set. Then she cued for a transition into a gradual cool down.
Each paticipant left the class feeling challenged by the class. Though I modified my work-out by sitting while others stood or by not gearing up, I definitely reached my sustained cardio level. And I enjoyed the class! Chris appreciated the ability to modify his extreme outdoor activities with a more controlled class on a stationary cycle as his meniscus recovers. One member added this class to her Boot Camp routine. Twenty-seven year old, Elizabeth, liked the flexibilty of the class. She said, “it provides the opportunity to make it as hard as I am up to that night.” Maria called Jen “a very capable instructor, who ensures we all have good form.” And added,” Jen’s class provides a great cardio workout!”

The climate-controlled enviroment of the cycling studio allows a safe and consistent workout year-round. One class participant said the class encouraged her to push herself harder than she would exercising on her own. The classes are offered at convenient times in the early morning and evening, with capable instructors. Child Watch is available during the evening classes. Check the YMCA website for more information about the Fall Schedule.

I would recommend using a gel seat if you have not ridden a bike in a long time. I was so relieved to discover no bike helmet was needed during the entire class. I smiled as I left the facility and spotted Maria buckling on her helmet before climbing on her bike parked by the YMCA entrance. What a great “Ah ha” moment! Maria’s last workout for the pleasant evening was pedaling home.

With a smile that could brighten the dreariest day in Broome County, Sandy repeated again and again, “Thank you God” as she retold her story. She began with an event she faced exactly a year ago:

On July 17, 2016, Sandy said she suffered massive trauma in an auto accident. Then she thanked God her life was miraculously spared. After a week in the hospital, Sandy spent 2 months in a local rehab facility that provided non-weight bearing care facilitated by a Hoyer Lift. When she finally arrived home in October, she was grateful to be walking, even if ambulation required a cane. She relied on the assistance of others for groceries, laundry and transportation. When she made enough progress in PT, they suggested she follow-up with water exercise.

Sandy knew exactly where she would go-the West Family YMCA. She took her first water fitness classes at the YMCA about 15 years earlier when she broke her hip in a fall and required a hip replacement. At that time she worked as an office manager and needed to get back to work in her desk job. Sandy looked to the Y for help in her recovery by strengthen her muscles and hip joints. Initially, she and her husband, Bill, joined and they went together to the Wellness Center for circuit training. Later, Sandy found she benefited more from water workouts. So Bill continued in the Wellness Center and she opted for Rusty Hinges and Arthritic Classes in the pool. She even tried Water Zumba once and really liked it. Sandy felt water fitness classes always provided a great body workout and socialization in a positive environment, when her work schedule allowed. Sandy finally had more time to enjoy both and spend time with Bill after she retired a few years ago. Sandy also found more hours for volunteering. She and Bill looked forward to helping at the Annual YMCA Community Thanksgiving Dinner. She also devoted many hours to the Johnson City Firehouse Stage and the Cidermill Playhouse. Then, 4 years ago, she faced a deep loss, her mate of 35 years passed away. The following year, her 52 year old son died from lung cancer caused by smoking. The YMCA community provided some comfort for Sandy in the months following.
The YMCA once again became a partner in Sandy’s recovery; this time when she returned in January 2017 after the July 2016 accident. A friend offered to give her a ride and they both joined the early morning Aqua Therapy held during open swim. Sandy has made great strides ever since. She’s back driving on her own and volunteering at the Johnson City Firehouse Stage. She said she is looking forward to returning to the Cider Mill Playhouse. With deep gratitude she shared a few other goals she’s aiming for: workouts in the Wellness Center, ditching her cane, building enough stamina to visit family across the USA, Israel and Germany…and maybe even taking some Zumba classes!
On Monday, July 17, 1917, exactly one year after her accident, she smiled and simply stated before she left the pool, “Every day I am alive is a good day!”

Len, a YMCA of Broome County lap swimmer, hit his 6,000 mile on May 17, 2017 at the Binghamton pool. To put the distance in perspective, one of the southern most points of South America; Comodoro, Argentina is 6,106.72 miles from Binghamton, as the crow flies. Likewise, traveling east, Jerusalem, Israel is 5,723.11 miles. Len said he was always a swimmer, but didn’t begin tracking his progress until the 1980’s. At that time, the Y provided a chart for the lap swimmers to record their daily “mileage”. Len said he never set out to set break a record. He was just a part of a “brotherhood” who swam during his 7 a.m. routine 4 or 5 days a week before work. He mentioned another factor influencing his commitment, healthy living. In 1984, Len performed CPR on his dad after he suffered a heart attack. In spite of his effort, his dad died. Len hoped the pool work-outs would gain him more time with his two sons than his dad had with him.

Len said when his boys were younger, he spent less time in the pool so he could have more time with them. When they got old enough to swim with the “brotherhood”, they added a family tradition…Saturday morning swim followed by breakfast out. Len will always cherish those times. Len’s job includes lots of travel, both within New York and nationwide. Rather than using hotel facilities, he seeks local YMCA pools, many of which honor reciprocal memberships. He enjoys meeting and interacting with “a lot of people.” He rattled off a few host cities he’s visited: In NY: Olean, Ithaca, Corning, Albany; and nationally: Minneapolis, Kansas City, Philly and St Louis. Swimming in the Olympic Aquatic YMCA in Orlando, Florida impressed him. He marveled at “little kids learning to swim in a 50 meter pool.” His frequent stays in Chicago added 100 miles to his total. In all, Len’s travels have taken him to about 30 different YMCA facilities. Lenny

Len’s lap time includes swimming a mile straight and working on the efficiency of his stroke. He says he used to practice a “no excuses/no matter how I feel” dedication to his pool time, until he got double pneumonia several years ago. With 30 plus years of life under his belt and the loss of his aging mentors in the original brotherhood, Len says his 35 minute swims now provide more of a “meditative-type relaxation.” And the valuable friendships forged at the YMCA offer tremendous support through tough times and celebration in the good times. It was not Len who kept track of his 6,000 milestone but a newer member to the group, 76 year old Casey, who learned to swim at 75, and John, who completed 2,800 miles. The pair headed up a party honoring Len’s accomplishment and arranged for donations to a charity with special significance to him.

Way to go, Len! From the YMCA Community!

We’re encouraged, “to stop and smell the roses!” Everyone living in Broome County can also add “Relax and read the rocks,” while checking out the flowers.
Broome County is “Rocking!” Artists under the age of 5 to over the age 85 are decorating rocks and placing them at entrances to businesses, in flower beds and rock gardens, on brickwalls and at a neighbor’s doorstep! They leave them on trails, benches, picnic tables and in tucked tree trunks. They appear anywhere, including the YMCA of Broome County. The intended mission of each rock is to spread joy and kindness. BCR1

If you discover one, please touch! Pick it up for a closer look. Turn it over, look for the message, “Broome County Rocks”. Or if the rock traveled further, the name of its place of origin. Enjoy the message, take a picture and leave it for someone else to find. Or…take it with you, keep it as your treasure. If you choose, relocate it instead to brighten someone else’s day.

Amy, a 7th/8th Grade Special Education teacher in Harpursville, launched the Broome County Rocks Facebook Group on April 7, 2017 after seeing a similar one, Susquehanna Rocks in PA. She said, “The whole concept is to bring joy to others and spread kindness. If the message on the rock makes someone smile, it has fulfilled its purpose. The overall response has been amazing. I’ve had people from as far away as California ask to join the page. The page has really taken off, with close to 11,500 members currently. It’s awesome to get private messages about the joy it’s brought to people. The whole process is to paint a rock and hide it somewhere, anywhere outside, is great. If you find a rock, you can rehide it or keep it and paint a new one. If people have Facebook or Instagram, they can take pictures of the rocks they paint and/or pictures of the rocks they find and post them and/or their stories on the public Facebook Group, Broome County Rocks. If they don’t, it’s no big deal. Again, the whole purpose is to bring happiness to everyone. BCR2

I think it’s so important in the world we live in to remind our children there is still kindness in the world. Also, it’s important for my children/students to spread kindness.”
YMCA member, Fran, said, “I did the BCR project with my grandchildren, first with a 6 year old and a 4 year old living in the area. We sat on a big blanket on the garage floor on a rainy day and painted rocks from the yard. Then we sprayed them with a glitter sealer. They were beautiful. We discussed where to place them. We decided to put 2 in the flower garden outside the ER at Lourdes Hospital. My 4 year old grandson said, ‘if someone has to come to the hospital with a broken leg, they will see our “wocks” and feel better.’ Then we placed 2 at St. Patrick’s Church for their great grandma, after they attended her memorial mass. We left the last 2 at West End Park. My other grandchildren, ages 9 and 7, painted two apiece during their visit here. The 9 year old wrote a favorite saying she memorized on one, “You are brighter than sunshine on a rainy day”. She also chose to leave it at the Lourdes ER. Her other rock said “Smile”. The 7 year old painted hers a variety of beautiful colors, including a rainbow. She enjoyed mixing the colors to produce more shades. She loved her rocks and decided to take them back home to Massachusetts! The children also found a few rocks and were delighted each time. I love this activity to bring beauty into the world one rock at a time.”BCR3

Guidelines, Hints and How-to’s for “Rocking”:
*Please be mindful, children view the Facebook posts and rocks, so no inappropriate paintings or inappropriate/negative comments. Misuse will result in being blocked.
*Make sure to keeps rocks outside; please, don’t place them in stores or any other facilities.
*Painting rocks: use weather-proof paints, markers and a protective clear coat finish, such as fast-drying polyurethane spray. (Permanent markers run when sprayed with polyurethane; use fine tip or extra-fine tip archival or paint markers for best results)
*Be creative, have fun, inspire others!

Keep looking….you might discover a Broome County Rocks at the YMCA of Broome!