Staffing challenges notwithstanding, Oneonta’s YMCA and the City of Oneonta will partner again this year to provide summer programming and services for area youth eager for activity.
“The Y’s core mission is to find solutions to community problems,” said YMCA Executive Director Frank Russo. “This summer, like every summer before it, we will work to the best of our capabilities to provide whatever services we can.”
“We will offer our summer programs in some way, shape, or form,” he said. “I like to say it will be ‘similar but different.’ We intend to have the swimming pool operating. The community is very quick to be worried that there will be nothing to do this summer, but that’s not the case. That’s not to say that we don’t need employees and volunteers — we’re just like any business facing a shortage these days.”
“This is not a money issue for us,” he said, noting the Oneonta Y’s competitive wages and opportunities. “We’re losing some of our past collaborative partners because their own programs have suffered. Everybody is feeling the pinch.”
In his online Weekly Report for April 16, Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek addressed the need for volunteers who can keep city programs alive.
What better time than the middle of National Volunteer Week (April 17 – 24) to take the time to salute every person who gives their time — truly our most precious commodity — to help others.
The Freeman’s Journal/Hometown Oneonta receives a few dozen press releases each week from community groups of every stripe throughout Otsego County — organizations looking out for the environment, preserving open spaces, grooming hiking trails. Groups dedicated to keeping political discourse at a civil level, encouraging citizens to vote and participate in democracy. Programs to feed the hungry, help the homeless, save and protect animals. Perform for and promote local arts and artists, help out in the schools, decorate village streets for holidays, coach Little League and soccer and basketball.
And almost as an aside, such announcements usually include some semblance of this proud statement: “[insert name] is an all-volunteer organization governed by a volunteer board of directors.”
Board of Education, town, and village governments, too, run on volunteer steam: these board members, supervisors, mayors, trustees, legislators, committee members, and appointees aren’t in it for the big paycheck. We’re humbled when imagining the amount of time and dedication these volunteers devote to a sometimes thankless task, serving a public that can be quick to judge and criticize yet take for granted the day-to-day quality of life that these volunteers make possible.
ONEONTA — The Oneonta YMCA, along with the Lyden family and the city of Oneonta’s Wilbur Pool, hosted a four-day, free workshop for kids on how to be safe around the water.
The workshops, which were held between Monday, Aug. 2, and Thursday, Aug. 4, taught children some essential lessons on how to be safe in the water, with the intent of preventing drowning. The history of the workshop has tragic roots, but is a passion that continues to this day.
The segments being offered included learning about pool rules, what to do if a boat capsizes, learning to help rescue someone in the water, how to deal with air pockets and other safety lessons on water safety.
About 80 kids have participated in the program and it also provided on the job training for being a swim instructor.
Stephanie Kozak, head lifeguard, said there was a lifeguard shortage throughout the country and, because of COVID, kids didn’t get swim lessons last year and, possibly as a result, drowning deaths are up.
The Safety Around Water workshop, sponsored by the YMCA, was started eight years ago by Stephen Lyden, who passed away at the age of 20 in January 2015, as a result of drowning. For Kristen Lyden, his mother, doing the water safety workshop is a personal way of carrying on his legacy.
ONEONTA – Frank Russo, executive director of the Family YMCA, has been elected president of the Future of Oneonta Foundation board of directors, the FOF announced this week. He succeeds Diane Aaronson.
Other new officers are Susan Hughson, vice president; Ben Nesbitt, treasurer; Ryan Brooks, secretary.