YMCA Benefits Seniors/Seniors Inspire the YMCA Community

YMCA of Broome member, Ed, quips with a hint of his wry humor, “It‘s better to wear out than rust out!”


Ed reaches a milestone birthday this year… 95 years old. He maintains an active Y membership. He swims at the West Family YMCA pool and/or works out in Wellness Center twice a week. The physical limitations that keep him from driving don’t deter him; if his daughter, Pat, can’t take him, he hops on the Castle Garden’s bus to get to the facility.


YMCA Trainer Sue noted, “Ed’s Wellness Workout card is dated September 2005. I have had the privilege of working with him  in the Wellness Center for close to 10 years. What an inspiration he is to not only me but to many of our other Y members. When they ask his age, their reaction is always, “Wow!” He is such a smart, sweet and funny man. He feels more like family to me than a Y member.”


Ed celebrates another milestone in 2018…his 80th anniversary of joining the YMCA. He reports that a YMCA was located right across from his high school in Camden, NJ. So he joined and started swimming there after school. He attended YMCAs in many other locations through the decades following. He values his years of YMCA of Broome County membership. He appreciates the way the staff and other members treat him. He says his favorite part about the Y is the exercise. He declared, “The Y helps me feel better mentally!”


The functional fitness and stamina Ed earned in his workouts was put to the test this summer. He went on a 3 week family vacation to Alaska that included travel by land, air and sea. He passed the test! He kept up with the busy itinerary, as well as anyone…and even better than some! He especially liked the cruise; he said they treated him like a king!


His daughter, Pat adds,”I just love the Y for how everyone looks out for him. I know he is safe and cared for there.”


The YMCA of Broome County is committed to serving the senior members of our community. Please check with the Welcome Desk or Membership Director, Karen Berman, for the latest details for membership. The YMCA connected with insurance providers and was able to work out some positive changes for 2018. See if/how these insurance changes impact your membership!

Join the YMCA Partnership with Broome County’s Homeless Coalition “No Freeze” Policy


The recent stretch of bitter cold has taken a toll on Broome County residents. The group most seriously impacted by the frigid temperatures is the homeless population. According to the National Weather Service, frostbite can occur in 30 minutes at 0 degrees with a wind speed of 15 mph. (wind chill temperature -19 degrees). The combined drop of temperature to below zero readings and an increase of wind gusts could create wind chill readings of -25 or below. Frostbite in these conditions happens in 10 minutes. Hypothermia, the body’s potential deadly response to cold that causes the body temperature to dip below 95 degrees, can cause memory loss, dizziness, incoherence, exhaustion and other symptoms.

IMG_3646 IMG_3647As a charitable organization with over 150 years of caring for men in need of support, the YMCA of Broome County has joined with other agencies in providing “No Freeze” beds for homeless men. YMCA Fund Development Officer, Dan Smith, says the YMCA of Broome County’s Downtown Binghamton facility also provides a shower, toiletries and a blanket to each overnight guest.


Community members may join in this lifesaving effort through donations of the following items:

Toiletries: soap, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc.

New/Gently Used Clothing items: especially socks, underwear, gloves, warm hats/face-mask stocking caps, scarves, long johns, winter coats and handwarmers.


Snacks: individual packs of crackers, chips, peanut butter or cheese and crackers, etc.


Donated items may be left at Broome County YMCA at 61 Susquehanna St, Binghamton, NY or the West Family YMCA at 740 Main St, Johnson City, NY.


Thank you for your kindness on behalf of those in critical need in these severe conditions.


1, 2, 3 Grow: Helping Toddler Discover the Fun in Fitness


The YMCA of Broome County is committed to providing wellness options for the entire community, from the youngest to the oldest members. The 1 2 3 Grow held in the West Family YMCA  gym offers preschoolers, age 3 and under, and their parents (or grandparents) a session filled with fun, fitness and socialization. The 45 minutes class includes just enough structure to encourage a healthy release of pent-up winter wiggles in a safe, positive environment.



A mid-December visit to the Thursday 10:15 a.m. class gives a peek into what the class offers:


“Round and round. That’s the game! What’s your name?”  sang Miss Heather, the 1 2 3 Grow teacher. She smiled warmly and pointed to Annie during the opening 1,2,3, Grow circle time. Annie danced with delight when Miss Heather said Annie’s name with her. Then Miss Heather pointed to the next child and the next. Each of the 7 little faces lit up when his or her turn came.


Before class, Miss Heather set up mats, a tunnel, balls, spinners, hula hoops and other equipment through-out the West Family YMCA gym. As the tots arrived, they eagerly gravitated to their favorites.  Annie chose the spinner; her 8-month-old sister cooed as she did some tummy-time with 3 hula hoops. TJ and his dad tossed a mini basketball.


Through the entire 45-minute class, Miss Heather balanced structured and unstructured activities. After circle time, they gathered for a hula hoop set. She directed the children to roll the hoops, set them on the floor, step in them, step out of them, jump in/jump out, put the hoops over their head and drop them. She stacked 6 to create a little “hut” for one or two. Some of the children carefully followed the simple instructions, others felt free to explore nearby activities and equipment.


Heather kept the 7 toddlers ranging in age from 8 months to 3 years old, physically engaged the entire 45 minutes. She varied the activities and used simple, fun words to introduce each. During a set using a 3 foot-wide “track” of mats stretching across half the width of the gym, Miss Heather asked the tots to “march” down the line. Then she challenged them to: hop, run fast, gallop, crawl, bear crawl, roll. She helped them climb up and slide down a foam wedge in the middle of the track.



They closed with another short circle time and sang, “The more we get together, the happier we’ll be. Your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends…” Miss Heather “high-fived” with each child. Apparently “the more we get together” caught on; everyone eagerly pitched in with putting the equipment away.


Parents and grandparents offered positive comments about the session:

Annie’s mom says they have come since she was an infant and now they come with her baby sister.


TJ has been coming about 6 months and loves it.


1 year old Matt finally got brave enough to do the tunnel. The gym time has helped him interact, become braver and more adventurous.


One of the grandmas said she appreciated the interaction with other grandparents. She said her grandson loves the ride-on toys and stickers.


Another parent mentioned how much they appreciate the socialization and the cooperation within the group…everyone is sensitive and supportive.


Everyone mentioned how much they appreciate Heather. She creates a fun, structured lesson plan for each class, but is flexible with the routine. She allows the children freedom to explore.


The Thursday 10:15 a.m. class restarts in mid January…it offers preschoolers a positive first experience in discovering the fun in YMCA fitness classes!



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Joyce Finds a New Beginning at the YMCA Following Retirement


Joyce retired from 21 year career as an educator 3½ years ago.  Her role as a 3rd grade teacher offered many rewards…seeing children discover their potential and years of friendship with her colleagues. However, the position also made physical demands on her, especially after her double knee replacements. In addition to her full-time job, Joyce held dual roles of caregiving. As an only child, she carried sole responsibility for her aged mom. She also pitched in to help with her grandchildren, when her schedule allowed. The cumulative stress affected her health. Her doctor surprised her when she informed Joyce test results indicated pre-diabetes.


Joyce made the decision the fall following her retirement to rebuild her own health and wellness. She joined a 9 am water fitness class at the West Family YMCA. The pool offered her the impact-free workout her doctor prescribed for her knees. Joyce also discovered another positive benefit, socialization. She shared fun, laughter and encouragement within her new circle of friends. As her “pool pals” floated and chatted before and after class, she found others faced the similar parental care issues. Joyce valued their insights and “I get it,” empathy when her mom’s health failed enough to require challenging decisions about round the clock care. The 45 minutes also provided Joyce with “a water-soluble, de-stressor workout” that kept her pre-diabetes in check.


After retirement, Joyce also took on an exciting role, childcare provider. She began watching her grandchildren, ages 5, 3 and 8 months, 3 days a week. Thankfully, the water fitness class helped her joints and improved her mobility. Her newly acquired functional fitness allows her to keep up with them, get them to their activities…and enjoy the time they share.


Joyce said the YMCA classes and walks in her neighborhood helped her to shed some weight, lower her stress level and improve her health!


Joyce says of her YMCA experience:

The pool time is when your mind can forget all of life’s issues, just relax and take a break from real life for 45 minutes.

The Y is a great place for caregivers (or anyone) to meet kind, compassionate and positive people. YMCA friendships encourage you to stay committed to your emotional and physical well-being, as well offering support in really difficult times.


12 Days of Fitness Challenge


Played pickleball? Brought a friend to class? Tried a new exercise? Stood on one foot as long as you can? Thanked a lifeguard for being on duty? The YMCA of Broome County’s 12 Days of Fitness Challenge has stirred up almost as much as excitement as the clatter of 8 reindeer prancing on a roof. The fun challenge, which started on December 11th and runs through December 22, provides a menu of 33 activities (like the ones above), in 4 different categories. Participants need only complete 8 activities, at least one from each category (Wellness Center, Pool, Land Group Exercise and Sports, Outdoors & More), to earn an ornament for their “tree.” Participants can may only earn one ornament per category per day. Completed trees will receive a star sticker and be entered in a drawing for three $50 YMCA gift cards!! Two additional winners who complete the challenge with 4 stickers from one category will also be drawn.


Winners will be announced on December 28th!


Wellness Coordinator, Leanne, says the YMCA of Broome hopes as members visit each of the 4 Wellness Departments that they discover the “so much more” the YMCA of Broome County offers. Steve, from the Wellness Center, says some members seeing the center for the first time, are surprised by all the machines and equipment available for their use. Community Health and Fitness Director, RoQue hopes this challenge will build community in the YMCA by providing options that allow members in every level of fitness to participate!


He added, “You can still complete the 12 Days of Fitness Challenge even if you begin on December 21st! (But, why wait until then?) Stop at Wellness Center or the Front Desk today for more details and your activity tree!               IMG_3444

The YMCA: Adrianne’s Community Go-To Place

The YMCA has been a go-to place in the community throughout my life. I first started at the Norwich YMCA in swim lessons when I was 5 years old. I made many lifelong friends there. My dad passed away just a few weeks before my 7th birthday. I will never forget how my mom found a way to make that hard day special; she threw a YMCA splash party for me and all my friends. I joined the Norwich Field Band in high school and again the Y was there. They hosted us before our championships at the Carrier Dome each year. From age 16 through 18, my mom and I bonded by getting memberships at the Y. We worked out together in the Fitness Center and yoga classes. The Y also provided a safe place for me while my mom worked. She dropped me off at the Y before her shift started and I took an early morning Spin Class. Then I walked to my grandma’s to catch the bus to school. After school I returned to the Y. I did homework or another work-out until my mom picked me up at the end of her shift.


I graduated from high school in 2011 and I moved to Johnson City to attend SUNY Broome. I only made it one semester as a full-time student because of finances. I dropped back to part-time and struggled through a rough patch of unemployment. So, I spent a lot of time volunteering at a church thrift shop. One of the other volunteers told me about the Membership Service job at the West Family YMCA. I applied and got the position…ending 15 months of joblessness. I found it rewarding working for the agency that had been there for me.



My afternoon Member Services shift allowed me to return to SUNY Broome for morning classes. I graduate this December with a Health Sciences degree. I’m also currently in my first semester of the Nursing Program and plan to graduate as a Registered Nurse in May 2019. My YMCA co-workers and members have supported and encouraged me in countless ways.



My favorite part of the YMCA is getting to know the members! I have made many friends and learned so much from them. My favorite class is Sue B.’s Shallow Aqua Intervals at West. It’s fantastic and gets your heart pumping. I appreciate the mutual accountability; other members tease me when I miss a class and “expect a good excuse” for my absence. I also enjoyed personal training with Diane, until homework deadlines got in the way of my workout time. I value working at place that makes a difference in our community. Last year I brought four friends to the annual YMCA Thanksgiving Dinner. They were very grateful because they wouldn’t have had a traditional meal, otherwise. They also picked out winter coats for themselves and their children donated by YMCA members.


I am truly thankful for each opportunity the YMCA has provided for me to live, grow and thrive in my community.


YMCA of Broome: Thankful for Community


Bless the Lord…and do not forget any of his benefits.

Psalm 103:2 NRSV


“I have not stopped giving thanks for you…” Ephesians 1:16 (NIV)


During this season of thankfulness, the YMCA of Broome would like to take a moment to express gratitude for the faithful support from YMCA staff, members, Board and volunteers, as well as the privilege of partnering with other agency and businesses. The combined effort allows the YMCA many excellent opportunities to serve our community, from the youngest children and their families, through senior adults.


Two recent YMCA events, Trunk or Treat and the annual Thanksgiving Meal offered safe, fun, activities for hundreds in our community. The new YMCA of Broome Branch Executive Director, Gerry Gessie, offered these comments:


Trunk or Treat:
My first YMCA of Broome Event, Trunk or Treat, was spectacular fun!  It was great seeing all of the YMCA Spirit! Several hundred Broome County residents lined-up along the north side of the West Family YMCA Branch facility. They chatted as they waited in their creative costumes for their turn to parade past the decorated cars and collect their treats from each of the trunks. The late afternoon event also included a free pumpkin, outdoor games, as well as crafts in the Game Room and mini-plastic pumpkin hunts in the pool.
We are truly thankful for the hours of efforts decorating and generosity of the 25 Trunk teams (Approximately 50 volunteers and pounds and pounds of treats.) We also had a significant candy donation from Mirabito. The Halloween-themed music, the other YMCA staff and volunteers on the campus made for a great time for time with families, friends, and colleagues!

Community Turkey Dinner

It always feels nice to give and that was in tall order for the YMCA’s Community Turkey Dinner. The grateful feelings expressed by the over 200 people in attendance overwhelmed me and many others. On the way in and on the way out, individuals and entire families conveyed their thankfulness for the nice meal, as well as the opportunity to relax and spend time with caring neighbors.


The YMCA of Broome extends much thanks to all who donated two dozen turkeys, homemade pies and an assortment of other trimmings to the feast. Special thanks to the YMCA’s School Age Child Care kids for the adorable table setting. Very much appreciated, also, are the tireless efforts of the YMCA Staff, members, board and other volunteers, including entire families, who set-up, prepared, seated and served in any way on Sunday, November 12, 2017. One of the youngest volunteers, 5-year-old Emmy, smiled as she pitched in for her second year, wearing an over-sized set of gloves.

What a very special afternoon of giving thanks and fellowship!


Three more YMCA Traditional Community Events are scheduled during the month of December. Hope you can join us:

Angel Tree, November 25-December 18th: makes gifts possible for our Supportive Housing Residents

Snorkel With Santa on Saturday, December 9th, 2017, fun time for families

Resolution Run: 5k Walk/Run, Sunday, December 31st, Noon

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YMCA Community Member, Birdie, Takes 2nd Place in National Special Olympics Golf and 1st in Bowling!

The YMCA of Broome County celebrates Birdie, YMCA community member and outstanding athlete. She took second place nationally after finishing first at the Special Olympics Regional Tournament held at EnJoie Golf Course on Columbus Weekend. Then, on October 22,2017, she took 2nd place in the Regional Special Olympics Bowling Tournament. She competed on November 19th in the NY State tournament and is now ranked 1st in the country.


Congratulations. Birdie!


Birdie joined the YMCA community a few months ago. She and her friend, Jill, started attending the Aqua Body Blast Class at 9 am on Monday and Friday… and the class hasn’t been the same since. Birdie and Jill worked as harder, or harder than anyone in the group. They mixed this with a contagious fun and banter that brought smiles to faces and motivated everyone near them to work more intensely…and smile.


Birdie now attends with Anna and works just as intensely. She says the class, “gives me more energy, encouragement, and the opportunity for meeting new people. I hope to look into some other YMCA classes”


Birdie is passionate about being a “big role model.” She said, “I am willing to help anyone who needs help.”  She said she teaches bowling and golf. She said, “If I need to learn another sport, I go on You-Tube.”  She demonstrates leadership in several areas. She is the Art Coordinator for the Spring Special Olympics Art Show held at Chenango Valley High School Football Field. She also serves on the board and committee for the local Buddy Walk. The walk promotes friendship and raises funds for assisting members of the Broome County community with Downs Syndrome. She takes on a helpful role as timekeeper in her Y Water Fitness class, alerting the instructor when the official clock near her in the shallow end reads 8:40, so group can transition from the deep end deck for cool-down.


Birdie finished by listing her favorites. She said her favorite famous person is the legendary golfer, Nancy Lopez. She said, “Nancy Lopez taught me the love of the game of golf.” She mentioned another favorite sport, bocce ball. She said her favorite activity is art. During the past summer, she and other friends often met at the picnic shelter on the West Family YMCA campus to work on art projects. They also meet in the JC Library.


Her favorite place is watching her friends play their sports. She said, “My true friends are my favorites because they treat me with respect and I can trust them. I do the same in return.”


Birdie added one last favorite, “Being the best role model I can be and encouraging others so they can stay positive!” She brings both to the YMCA community!


Veteran’s Day 2017: Honoring Our Veterans’ Service


“We can’t all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.” Will Rogers


YMCA Member and Vietnam War Vet, Alan’s Story Continued…


Vietnam Veteran and YMCA member, Alan’s Wellness Center work-out discipline built his strength and endurance over the summer of 2017. He said he felt less tired and more alert. These benefits paid off in the functional fitness he needed every day and also for a very special event. On September 30, 2017, Alan joined 39 other veterans on the Leatherstocking Honor Flight from Albany, NY to Washington, DC. Al, a vet friend of his and Honor Flight volunteer, accompanied him. Alan said it was “really something!” A throng of well-wishers and a high school band met them before their 6 a.m. commercial flight. The Southwest Airlines pilot personally expressed his thanks to Alan as he boarded. Alan was quite taken by the reception they received in Washington. Police escorted their 2 buses to the Veteran’s monuments. He said, “It was there we visited the memorials and greeted other vets already there… what comradeship!”


Alan particularly noticed the active duty service personnel who treated them with such respect. He was around the same age when he enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam War. Nineteen-year-old Alan traded his job of cleaning out boxcars for an Infantry Medic position. After his basic training in Fort Lewis and 3 more months of training at Fort Sam Houston, he was deployed to Vietnam. He served one year and one day there. He said the guys from his unit bonded together during the ten and a half months he spent just below the DMZ. Alan went on ten to twelve missions. He said they were pinned down by serious artillery on one mission. They young soldiers saw things they never wanted to see, life and death moments that left them “shell-shocked.”  Each one processed their combat experiences differently. Some disengaged and never recovered. Alan said his return from the war was “dark on dark.” Prior to serving, he had alcohol use issues. While in Vietnam, Alan began a struggle with drug addiction that escalated once he got back home. In a desperate moment, he cried out, “God, if you are real, I need your help!” After that prayer, drugs no longer worked for him. He asked his parents forgiveness for all he put them through and headed to Bible School. Then he went on to Teen Challenge and became a male counselor. His next job took him to Everett, Washington to work with troubled runaways. He spent the rest of his working years supervising in sheltered workshops and group homes.


Alan was ordained as an Assembly of God minister in 1983. He acknowledges God’s hand on his life. He joined the Army before his daft number came up. In fact, his number would not have been drawn. He considers this a blessing because without this detour, he would not have met his life partner, the love of his life, Sharon. Alan has worked through his war scars…the last was fireworks. A few years he was finally able to sit through fireworks at a B Met’s game. He finds camaraderie in attending monthly Veterans breakfasts at the Blue Dolphin. As an ordained minister, he has been given the privilege of saying the opening prayer. He recognizes the need for Vets to have hope.


 Honor Flight History: Honor and Closure

A retired Air Force Captain, Earl Morse, also recognized the unique needs of veteran he served as Physician Assistant in small clinic run by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, in Springfield, Ohio. According the Honor Flight website, many of his WWII vets greatly anticipated the creation of WWII monument, due to open in May of 2004. As the months passed, Morse sadly realized none of his WWII vets visited THEIR memorial. He realized their finances, physical and mental limitations, as well the resources and lack of time of their families prevented them. Since he was also a pilot and owned a plane, he invited one of his WWII vets to fly to Washington for a day. The man wept with gratitude. He extended the offer to another hero.


Members of his 150-member aero club caught the vision. The inaugural Honor Flight took place in 2005. They filled 6 private planes and flew 12 “very happy veterans” to Washington. The pilots and sponsors provide their services at no cost. The Honor Flight program grew as others embraced the idea. Southwest Airlines became the official volunteer commercial carrier. Later, Korean and Vietnam war vets were also included in the “mission.”  Alan returned from his flight feeling honored and blessed by the experience he shared with the Leather Stocking group and other Vets he met by the monuments.

(For more info: Veteran Applications, volunteering, donations, flight schedules: https://www.honorflight.org/)


The YMCA History page cites the YMCA’s long tradition of honor and service to our military and veterans beginning with the Civil War:


*Throughout World War I, the YMCA provided morale and welfare services for the military. By war’s end, the YMCA, through the United War Work Council, had operated 1,500 canteens in the United States and France; set up 4,000 YMCA huts for recreation and religious services; and raised more than $235 million—equivalent to $4.3 billion today—for relief work.


*During World War II the YMCA, along with five other national voluntary organizations, founded the United Service Organizations for National Defense, today known as the USO.


*Active duty/family members of deployed military please check this website: http://www.ymca.net/military-outreach/


The YMCA of Broome County express our deepest gratitude for the honored service and sacrifices of our Veterans, Active Duty Military and their families, on Veteran’s Day….and every day!

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Following a Doctor’s Advice Improves Mary’s Health and Wellness:

A Rusty Hinge Water Exercise Success Story

Mary kept a regular exercise routine on the treadmill at her home. She experiencing enough episodes of feeling off-balanced to start using a walker. She also periodically suffered hand tremors so intense she could not hold her fork. Her concern for a serious illness, like Parkinson Disease, sent her to schedule an appointment with a neurologist. He ordered a battery of tests but found no cause for her symptoms. He suggested Mary try a water fitness class. Mary’s daughter enjoyed her workouts in the YMCA Wellness Center so much, she encouraged her mom to she checked out the pool at West Family YMCA. Mary did and decided to join, even though she had never taken a water fitness class.


Mary chose the afternoon Rusty Hinge classes twice a week. She quickly discovered the benefits of group exercise. She enjoyed the social interaction with the other members. It made her work-out more effective…and fun. She said Jennifer, the instructor, provided easy to follow instructions and was very encouraging. Within a month, Mary started noticing physical improvements. She felt her circulation and balanced improved. She said the debilitating shakes she endured were reduced so much she hardly noticed the occasional fine tremors.

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She said it is good to have a place to go and something to do after retirement. She lives far enough out that it would be easy just to stay home. Venturing out to class reminds her how much better life is with others around. She also uses her trip into town to get “out and about” to run errands. She likes her “busy days!”


Her instructor, Jennifer says, “It’s stories like Mary’s that remind me I am making a difference in people’s lives…every time a member tells how the Y has changed their lives, my heart is warmed.”