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This week is National Volunteer Week and the perfect opportunity to put volunteerism on a platform. Not only does the Tampa YMCA depend on volunteers to fulfill its cause-driven mission, but the Y also connects people to the community thorough service projects that inspire giving back. One of the ways we do this is through our teen programs.

For example, every month Teen Achievers from the Bob Gilbertson Central City YMCA participate in a service project, including a year-long engagement with the Children’s Cancer Center. “This is wonderful for our teens,” says Senior Program Director Wayne Johnson. “Although some Teen Achievers are at a disadvantage economically, nothing compares to dealing with cancer or life-threatening health issues. It takes the focus off of them and their woes and enables them to appreciate the struggles of fellow human beings.”

Likewise, Y Teen Achievers from Sligh Middle School spent a recent weekend helping to restore an inner-city church. For more information about the Y’s Teen Achievers program, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 813.229.9622.

 


Pictured above: During a recent service project, Y Teen Achievers from Sligh Middle School spent their Saturday helping to restore an inner-city church.

During a recent home game, the Tampa Bay Lightning honored Wayne Johnson as the 36th Lightning Community Hero of the season. Wayne received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program. He generously donated the dollars to both the Tampa YMCA and New Life Tabernacle.

As senior program director for the YMCA’s Teen Achievers program, Wayne works with over 750 at-risk youth across Hillsborough and East Pasco counties. Prior to that, Wayne served as an educator speaking to youth on dating violence. After his college roommate was killed during a domestic dispute, Wayne has dedicated the last 25 years advocating for domestic violence victims and others in underprivileged situations.

Wayne is also a retired member of the U.S. Military, serving eight years in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Joint Endeavor. He received the Army Achievement Medal, National Service Defense Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal with three Bronze Stars, Kuwait Liberation Medal and the NATO Medal.

The Tampa Y is extremely fortunate to have Wayne on our staff team, teaching kids to have hope, chase their college/career dreams and strive to break the generational cycle of poverty. Congratulations Wayne and thank you for your commitment and generosity to the Y!

 


Pictured above: Click on the video to see how the Tampa Bay Lightning honored YMCA Senior Program Director Wayne Johnson as its Lightning Community Hero.

The Tampa Ys finest volunteer basketball coaches were honored last month at the 3rd annual Naismith Award Banquet. The event, held in partnership with University of South Florida Athletics, recognized the following 2015 award recipients for their commitment to the skill and character development of youth:

• Coach Dennis Serrano from the Bob Sierra Y
• Coach Arica Lanier from the North Brandon Y
• Coach Steve Wilson from the Campo Y
• Coach Chris Williams from the East Pasco Y
• Coach Glen Donald from the South Tampa Y
• Coach Lindy Lawrence from the New Tampa Y
• Coach Hank Hurst from the Northwest Hillsborough Y
• Coach Bart Borders from the Plant City Y

“Our challenge to better the lives of the children and families we serve is greatly enhanced and made possible through the generous support of our volunteer coaches,” Tampa Y Executive Amanda Walker told award recipients. “Thank you for all that you do for the children and families you serve and for the commitment you have made to build a better community through YMCA Basketball.”

As a cause-driven, non-profit organization, the Tampa YMCA relies heavily on the support of volunteers to help coach sports teams, plan events, raise funds, and handle hundreds of other key responsibilities. Click here, if you’re interested in giving back in a significant way to your community.

 


Pictured above: The 3rd annual Naismith Award Banquet recognized Tampa Y’s finest basketball coaches (pictured here with their sports directors) on March 7th.

The Tampa Bay Lightning invited the Northwest Hillsborough Family YMCA to participate in a street hockey tournament last month. In all, 15 teams participated, including multiple Boys & Girls Clubs, parks and recreation departments and Hillsborough Out-of-School-Time (HOST) programs. As the only Y there, the Northwest Y came in 4th place.
 

“It was a really cool experience for the kids involved. We even picked up a few kids who didn’t have a team to play with and they became honorary YMCA players for the day,” says Childcare and Sports Director Chris Roese. “Our YMCA showed a tremendous amount of good sportsmanship and we definitely represented our organization in a great way.”
 

The Y thanks the Tampa Bay Lightning for giving our afterschool kids the chance to be a part of a tournament team. Many life lessons were learned during the nine games over six hours. We look forward to putting together even more Y hockey teams for the fun tournament next year!

 


Pictured above: Y Success Afterschool kids participated in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s street hockey tournament.

 
 

Getting healthier has always been a goal for Linda Miller, but she never really had the motivation until her doctor delivered some unsettling news. “He told me I was a candidate for knee replacement surgery but informed me I faced something much worse,” recalls Linda. “Unless I lost weight and got healthier, he felt certain it was just a matter of time until I became diabetic. I was shocked.” To avoid going down that dangerous path, Linda signed up for the Y’s Diabetes Prevention Program at the Plant City Family YMCA.
 

Linda says the weekly classes and food diaries helped her adopt a healthier lifestyle. “I was able to experience the reality of eating reasonable portions,” shares Linda. “Likewise with exercise, I learned I can start gradually and work my way up to more challenging exercises and not hurt myself.” She also notices a difference with her mindset. “I am gaining confidence and learning I am capable of more than I realized,” says Linda. “I am more active now than I have been for many years. I am getting so much more done, am more social and stay busy all the time.”
 

Best of all, “For the first time in many years, my blood work is within normal limits,” says Linda. “My doctor foresees a very real possibility of not needing knee replacement surgery; and I have little or no pain in my knee after a loss of 35 pounds in the program.”
 

Next Tuesday, March 24th is American Diabetes Association Alert Day®. The Tampa Y is committed to tackling chronic diseases head-on to help community members, like Linda, develop and maintain healthier lifestyles. “I thank God that I enrolled in the Y’s Diabetes Prevention Program,” testifies Linda. “I believe I was saved from the very real possibility of a horrible health future.”
 

Initiatives like the Y’s Diabetes Prevention Program show that losing a moderate amount of weight and increasing physical activity can prevent or delay new cases of type 2 diabetes by 58% overall and by as much as 71% in adults over the age of 60. To learn more about the Tampa Y's Diabetes Prevention Program, which is offered at 14 Tampa YMCA branches, please contact Bridget Piephoff at 813-922-2808 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 


Pictured above: Linda Miller says the Y’s Diabetes Prevention Program at the Plant City Y dramatically changed her life.

 
 
 
 

When you support the Tampa YMCA -- whether you are giving your time, talents or treasures -- you become someone's superhero. About 480 guests came together to honor the Y’s superheroes last month at the Regions Community Impact Dinner. The annual event brings awareness to the Tampa Y’s efforts to help kids and families, promote the health and well-being of the Tampa community, and help and give back to our neighbors in need.

 

This year’s event recognized Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn who received the 2015 Community Impact Award for his dedication and positive impact on Tampa Bay area residents. Tampa Y Governance Board Member Dena Shimberg was honored with the 2015 Order of the Red Triangle Award for making lasting and valuable contributions to the Tampa Y.

 

Fourteen Volunteers of the Year were also recognized by each YMCA branch among the crowd full of fellow volunteers, community leaders, elected officials, Y members and friends of the Y. “The Tampa Y is committed to strengthening the foundations of our community. But we couldn’t do this without the help, support and guidance of our volunteers -- our superheroes,” said President & CEO Tom Looby.
 

Many thanks to ABC Action News Anchor Brendan McLaughlin for serving as emcee and to Regions Financial Corporation as the title sponsor.

 

Dena Shimberg - Order of the Red Triangle Video

Rosa Testimonial Video

Jordan Testimonial Video

View Event Photos 

 


Pictured above: Paul Johnson (L) and his daughter, Rosa Griffin, were showcased at the Regions Community Impact Dinner honoring Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn (R).

 

Pictured right: Tampa Y President & CEO Tom Looby (L) presented Dena Shimberg (R) with the 2015 Order of the Red Triangle Award.

 

 

 

 

 

Some well-deserved recognition came this month for great friends of the Sulphur Springs Y. Norma and Joseph Robinson were honored as community heroes by the Tampa Bay Lightning during its January 31st game. The Robinsons, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation’s Community Heroes program, donated the money to various charities, including $5,000 to the Sulphur Springs Y.

We are extremely thankful to be one of the Robinson’s charities of choice. Norma and Joseph are often called a dynamic duo in the Sulphur Springs community. They have dedicated decades of civic activism the area, including leading the Sulphur Springs Action League and Sulphur Springs Museum and Heritage Center. The couple volunteers countless hours at Sulphur Springs Elementary School, where the Y’s Community Learning Center is housed. One of their signature workshops for the kids includes an educational presentation focused on the history of Sulphur Springs. Our Y Success Afterschool students always enjoy learning about the rich history behind their neighborhood.

Again, many thanks to the Robinsons for so generously giving their time, energy and financial support to the Y!

 


Pictured above: (Back row from L to R) Tampa Y CDO Jan Berry, Sulphur Springs Senior Program Director Lakema Massey, Norma & Joseph Robinson with Sulphur Springs YMCA afterschool kids

 

When Alisa Linares was not happy with the results she was seeing from her treadmill use at the Downtown YMCA, she knew she had to make a change. “It was a comfortable routine, but it wasn’t getting me in shape,” shares Alisa. That’s when she decided to try personal training at the Y.

Alisa says her trainer, Anthony Bellapigna, customized a routine that fit her individual needs and goals. “His patience and genuine interest in my success was what encouraged me to keep trying and stick with it.” She says Anthony’s teaching style also motivates her. “He brings variety and creativity, while also making it challenging and most of all, fun!”

Alisa has since dropped 15 pounds and two dress sizes. More importantly, she’s happier and healthier. “This is an excellent way to improve balance and flexibility, while increasing strength and energy. It has definitely elevated my fitness level.” Alisa says if it hadn’t been for Anthony, she might’ve given up. “Anthony’s passion for safe and effective, results-oriented workouts motivate me to push myself harder than I think I can. He is always sure to remind me of ways to prevent injury and to develop proper form. What I’ve learned from him will benefit me immensely for years to come.”

Alisa is glad she’s on a path to better health, saying, “I’m in the best shape that I’ve been in, in nearly 25 years and hardly a week goes by that someone doesn’t pay me a nice compliment. I feel fit and healthy and I’m sure my bones are stronger, which is important to me. Being in shape is now a priority for me, and thanks to Anthony, I am at a place, that for so many years, I hadn’t thought possible.”

Whether you’re just starting a fitness program or you’re a conditioned athlete, working with a Tampa Y trainer can help you achieve all new fitness levels. Your personal trainer can customize a program just for you, one that’s dynamic, innovative and results-driven. Most importantly, our trainers will provide you with all the necessary tools to not only achieve your goals but how to make them a part of your lifestyle. Click here to learn more.

 


Pictured above: Alisa Linares credits her personal trainer for motivating her to stay committed at the Downtown Y.

 
 
 

As part of our focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Tampa Y is committed to keeping children nourished all year long. Through our more than 30 Y Success Afterschool sites, the Tampa Y provides academic enrichment and physical activities to keep minds and bodies active, while also serving healthy snacks.

Thanks to our partnership with the YMCA of the USA, Hillsborough County Public Schools and Walmart Foundation, we now offer an Afterschool Meal Program to provide dinner to children in our most high-need sites. The Y is ensuring kids have access to meals at Sulphur Springs, Bay Crest, Morgan Woods and Town and Country elementary schools. “The kids love it,” shares Youth Development Executive Director Candace Culver. “We even had parents come to pick up, but they decided to leave and come back later so that their kids could eat.”

The Tampa Y is proud to be a part of this national movement to help kids stay well-nourished, active and energized, while also providing some relief to families who need support. ”

 


Pictured above: The Tampa Y currently serves dinner at four afterschool sites.

 

 

 

Reba Cain says she came to the Bob Sierra Family YMCA with one goal in mind: "to remain healthy and flexible enough to always be able to play with my grandchildren.” Her journey started with indoor cycling classes. “By spinning, I increased my cardio, lost a few pounds and got healthier and stronger,” recalls Reba.

 

From there, Reba signed up for more intense classes like Burn & Learn. “I learned so much about sensible healthy eating but, even more important, I learned how to work out in all areas – weights, machines, TRX®, stability ball and group fitness. It caused me to expand my ideas of what I could do to be fit.”

 

To get even better results, Reba tried out personal training and says, “I have gotten stronger and am able to do things I never thought I could do.” Willing to challenge herself even more, Reba entered a Triathlon Training Program at the Y. There, she overcame her fear of open water swim and successfully completed her first triathlon.

 

Reba didn’t stop there. You can add a Masters Swim class and a run group to her list of achievements. She even finished a second triathlon with a nine-minute improvement time. “I was astounded! I realized that my personal training had actually established a fitness foundation and I had become much stronger,” exclaims Reba.

 

What started as a simple goal turned into a long list of new goals that Reba has happily checked off her ever-growing list. “I am so grateful for the Y for all that it has given me. The trainers and staff at the Bob Sierra YMCA all have a mentality of wanting to help,” shares Reba. “I have always been supported and acknowledged for my accomplishments. This has made fitness fun for me.”

 

The Tampa Y provides the right equipment, programs and people to help determined health seekers, like Reba, turn their New Year’s resolutions into life resolutions. Click here to learn how you can become the best version of yourself…and kick off 2015 the right way!

 

Pictured above: Reba is turning her resolutions into reality at the Bob Sierra Y.

 

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