Spy Overview: The YMCA’s “Take the Helm” Program

In less than a week or so, the YMCA of the Chesapeake will formally begin a new program designed to orient and train high school age young men and women in the fine craft of wooden boat building. Intentionally copied from an extraordinarily successful program in the Bronx of New York City named Rocking the Boat, The YMCA’s staff, volunteers, and financial backers have been working for over a year to get ready for this moment, including several visits to Rocking the Boat’s offices along the Hudson River for meetings with its founder and director Adam Green.

With the help of Rocking the Boat’s audio and images as well as Easton videographer CeCe Davis, the Spy has assembled a short overview of the program to give our readers a sense of how powerful this has been for the individuals involved, for the community, and for environmental awareness.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Take the Helm, please go here or contact its program director Adam Hollis at 410-822-0566 or email ahollis@ymcachesapeake.org. 


Tennis Anyone? YMCA Acquires Cross Court Athletic Club to Expand Mission

After nearly year of negotiations and blessed with the generous philanthropic support of 40 community members, the YMCA of the Chesapeake has acquired Cross Court Athletic Club located at 1180 South Washington St in Easton. One of the last remaining indoor tennis facilities on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the 43,000 square foot facility boasts four indoor tennis courts, three outdoor clay courts, wellness and group exercise space and shower facilities.

screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-9-36-32-amThough in operation for the past 30+ years, the imminent threat of the sale of the Cross Court facility for redevelopment purposes, led local YMCA volunteers to explore strategic opportunities that could save the facility, its programs and services, while expanding the charitable work of the YMCA. With 10,000 members in Talbot County, the Y’s main facility located on Peachblossom is a hub for community activity and very busy. Y volunteers and staff determined the Cross Court facility could provide additional opportunities to meet community needs through expanded youth programs including year round tennis, youth soccer, and youth sports skills development. The facility could also provide expanded wellness programing for older adults such as balance and stability classes, fall prevention classes, flexibility and Yoga classes and functional strength activities that would help continue to support an active aging demographic within the County. The Y plans to explore with Y members and existing Cross Court members ways in which the facility may be utilized to best serve community needs, or the like.

“This is a big win for our community and the YMCA “, said Dick Bodorff YMCA Board President. “Tennis, as a way to connect to our friends and neighbors, is a big part of the culture of Talbot County. Losing this facility to development would have been a real loss. Under the Y’s leadership, not only will existing programs continue, but the development of new and exciting programs will only help to strengthen our community.”

The not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charity turns no one away due to the inability to pay and provided over $1.2 million dollars in financial assistance to over 12,000 people across the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia in 2016. All Y members will gain access to programs and services at the Cross Court facility, to be newly named Y @ Washington, while existing Cross Court members will gain access to Y facilities and programs across the Eastern Shore.

YMCA CEO Robbie Gill stated, “Warren and Lynne Rich, the YMCA and so many others have dedicated their time and talents to support tennis within Talbot County. It’s very exciting to bring this facility under the umbrella of the Y. There are so many opportunities to make a bigger difference in the lives of kids, families and adults in our community. This facility will only enhance our ability do that work. “

To learn more about the newly named Y @ Washington and the YMCA, please contact Jennifer Gill at 410.770.3890 or email at jgill@ymcachesapeake.org

Adam Hollis Named Director of Easton Family YMCA Take the Helm Program

The YMCA of the Chesapeake (YMCA) in Easton, MD has announced Adam Hollis of Easton, MD will serve as the Director for the new Easton Family YMCA outreach program, Take the Helm. Take the Helm is a new boat building program for high school students in Talbot County that focuses on building row boats teaching job, and social skills. 

adam-hollisHollis joined the YMCA of the Chesapeake in June of 2011 as a camp counselor for the Y summer camps, after graduating from the University of Maryland- College Park. Shortly after Adam took over as the Sports Coordinator for the 2011-12 sports season and was quickly hired as a Program Director in March of 2012. As a Program Director, Adam oversaw the YMCA summer camps, sports, childcare, and outdoor programs from March of 2012 to October of 2014. After a brief move to Savannah, Georgia, Hollis came back to the YMCA in July of 2016 to head the innagural season of FC Tred Avon; a new year round soccer program at the YMCA.   

Since joining the YMCA of the Chesapeake, Adam has lead multiple new programs, including the Summer Learning Program with Talbot County Public Schools, and FC Tred Avon. He has also served on the Martin Luther King Jr. Basketball Tournament committee, and has also volunteered as a coached with Special Olympics Maryland.  

“Having Adam join the Easton Family YMCA in this position is great for our team,” said YMCA Executive Director Derek White. “The vision for this program was cast by some key volunteers for our organization and Adam is a natural fit to connect kids to a program that not only builds boats, but also confidence, self-esteem, and passion for something greater than themselves.” 

The Take the Helm program will continue to work with several key partners in the community including the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Talbot Mentors, and others.  Natalie Costanzo, Executive Director of Talbot Mentors shared “There are so many incredible youth programs that the YMCA offers, with Take the Helm fitting right in.  The YMCA always works closely with Talbot Mentors to make their programs available to our youth.  This not only strengthens the day to day experiences for these youth, but also the community as a whole.” 

“I am honored to be joining the YMCA of the Chesapeake and happy to be in the position of offering leadership to Talbot County as we seek to develop quality, mission driven programs. There is a huge need in the community for meaningful after school programming for high school students and I plan to use Take the Helm as a program that can help fill this need. I will continue to work hard to create strong connections within the community to create a solid foundation for our members and program participants” commented Hollis.

The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits and the largest Human Service organization on the Eastern Shore of Maryland strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 21 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors.  In 2016, the YMCA of the Chesapeake provided over $1,000,000 in assistance in our communities, turning no one away due to inability to pay. Form more information about the YMCA of the Chesapeake, visit www.ymcachesapeake.org or call 410.822.0566.

Senior Nation Profile: Janet Pfeffer on Using It or Losing It

Whether it’s her classes at the YMCA in St. Michaels, Easton, or at Londonderry on the Tred Avon, Janet Pfeffer’s name has almost achieved cult status in her efforts to encourage older people to exercise on the Mid-Shore for many years.

Retiring in 2007 from the Talbot County Health Department, she came to the YMCA as a volunteer to help teach strength training, but as class size increased as did demand, Janet now runs a program that can serve up to 300 to 400 individuals year with her message of staying fit at any age.

The secret, she says, is as much to do with strength building and cardiovascular activity as it does with staying mentally fit. She, therefore, combines her classes with current event conversations, a word of the day, and other mental stimulation that not only motivates her students but makes their life more rewarding in a universal way.

The Spy caught up with Janet at the St. Michaels YMCA last week to discuss per observations about senior fitness and the phenomenal upside of remaining healthy as one ages.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Janet’s classes, please go to the YMCA here.

Building Kids by Building Boats: Take the Helm Begins

It was on the banks of the Bronx River in 2014, sandwiched between a massive recycling facility and of one of the largest food distribution facilities in the world, Talbot County community leaders Al and Marty Sikes and Richard Marks and Amy Haines discovered Adam Green and his not-for-profit organization Rocking the Boat. Focused on empowering young people from the South Bronx to develop self-confidence, at Rocking the Boat, students work together to build wooden boats, learn to row and sail, and restore local urban waterways, revitalizing their community while creating better lives for themselves. Their motto, kids don’t just build boats at Rocking the Boat, boats build kids.


screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-9-16-51-amWondering if a similar program could be introduced in our community to benefit high school students here, Al Sikes invited Adam to visit and meet with other leaders of youth serving organizations. Encouraged by Adam’s response after visiting and YMCA of the Chesapeake’s offer to provide space and support, an advisory board was formed that included key personnel from the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Talbot Mentors and Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy. The name Take the Helm was chosen and Robbie Gill, the CEO of the Y, organized a bus trip for members of the new advisory board, staff from the YMCA and a few students to see the program in the Bronx firsthand. Rocking the Boat Founder and Director Adam Green, retained as a consultant to Take The Helm, spoke about the new program in Talbot County. “ I’ve hosted plenty of people from different communities over the years hoping to create a program similar to our Program in the Bronx, Al and Richard and the team they’ve assembled in Talbot County is first class and I have no doubt, they’ll find success”.

Take the Helm is a boat-building program designed to engage high-school students in a hands-on, skill based enrichment program that utilizes the art of wooden boat building to strengthen student’s self-confidence, sense of community and teamwork, and to empower them to achieve their dreams. Take the Helm participants will build wooden boats from the ground up that will help them develop a range of technical skills that are highly transferable to both the academic and working worlds. From studying building plans to assembling, building and launching the boats into local waters, students will learn the ins and outs of wooden boat screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-9-17-01-ambuilding in a working, team environment.

While boat-building lies at the core of the program, it is also used as a vehicle to enhance the personal and professional lives of these students. Participants will climb a ladder of increasing responsibility and learn about current and future opportunities, including college and career paths; gain access to social and academic services; and both set and accomplish personal and educational goals.

Located at the Easton Family YMCA, The program will be open to all high school students (grades 9-12) in the Talbot County area, whether they are a YMCA member or not. The program will launch the week of January 9, 2017 and will run as an after school program. The program is free for all participants.

To learn more about Take the Helm and how to get involved, contact Adam Hollis at 410-822-0566 or email at ahollis@ymcachesapeake.org

YMCA Highlights Mid-Atlantic Tire Pro’s “Mattie Rewards Program”

Mid Atlantic Tire Pros continues to support the Easton Family YMCA through the Mattie Rewards Program.

Earn points at each visit to Mid Atlantic Tire Pros and then donate them to local charities including the Easton Family YMCA Strong Communities Campaign. What better way to help send children to summer camp or provide access to our facilities to someone who otherwise couldn’t afford it?

October-December deals include:

> 1 point for every $2 spent
> 350 points for joining Mattie Rewards with Promo Code: YMCA-2016
> 100 points on a transmission, coolant, or power steering flush
> 100 points with a synthetic oil change
> Double points when purchasing a set of 4 Michelin tires
> Double points on a brake service or pads
> Double points when you have your Toyota or Lexus serviced
> Double points when you spend $750 or Triple points when you spend $1,500

YMCA to Host Event to Thank Volunteers, December 1

YMCA of the Chesapeake will be hosting a Time, Talent and Treasure volunteer recognition event at the Easton YMCA on December 1 to honor the support that all of our volunteers provided us in 2016. This new event has a sole purpose of appreciating those that help us achieve the work that we set out to do each year.

Our YMCA could not survive without the help and hundreds of hours logged from our volunteers across all departments. From youth sports coaches, to learn to swim instructors, to welcome desk greeters, volunteers play a part in nearly everything we do in our YMCA.

If you are a volunteer, please RSVP to Megan Gladding to reserve your spot for the Time, Talent and Treasure dinner at 6 pm on December 1. If you are not currently a YMCA volunteer but would like to get involved then please also email Megan to start the process

YMCA Announces Several Programs Now Open for Registration

The Easton Family YMCA has announced program registration for the 15th Annual Turkey Trot, FC Tred Avon Winter Indoor Soccer, Before/After School Care, and Winter swim Lessons. Read on for more information!

15th Annual Charity Turkey Trot
Register now for the 15th Annual YMCA Charity Turkey Trot! This 10K run and 5K fun run/walk is held on Friday, November 25, 2016. The 10K begins at 10am and the 5K at approximately 10:05am. What a wonderful way to get the whole family moving the morning after your Thanksgiving Day feast! Strollers/wagons are welcome. All registration fees benefit YMCA Camp Lazy Days. Contact Mark Springer, Easton Family YMCA Sr. Wellness Director, click here for more information about the Charity Turkey Trot.

FC Tred Avon Winter Indoor Soccer
Following an excellent inaugural season of FC Tred Avon fall soccer, programming will continue with indoor soccer in January and February of 2017. This league does not have weekly practices, only Saturday games at Saints Peter and Paul and Easton High School. Serving U4 – U14 (ages 2 to 13), this is a great mid-year development program to continue your skill development during a normal off season. Registration is now open online or at any of our welcome center desks.

Before/After School Care
Registration for Before/After School Care continues throughout the fall. Our YMCA serves all local elementary schools and also buses from Saints Peter and Paul and the Country School. Whether you’re in need of morning care, afternoon programming or simply teacher workday’s, we have you covered. Register here!

Winter Swim Lessons
Continuing to provide children an environment to learn safety around the water is one of the most important programs the YMCA has. Now offering 2 week, 4 week, and 8 week sessions, our swim programs have something that works for every schedule. Pick up a flyer in the YMCA or visit us online.

Annual YMCA Turkey Trot Race is Just Around the Bend

Our 15th Annual YMCA Turkey Trot will be taking place on Friday, November 25 at 10 am. This Black Friday race has been a staple in our community for years and helps burn off those extra Thanksgiving calories.

This year, 100% of the proceeds from the race go towards supporting YMCA Camp Lazy Days, a six week camp for youth with special needs that is completely free for the parents and their children. This year, we’re excited to have youth from Camp Lazy Days participating in the official start of the race. We hope you will consider registering early, only the first 400 races are guaranteed a shirt. Register here!

Interested in learning more about YMCA Camp Lazy Days and the importance of this race and your support? Please check out this video!



YMCA Announces Volunteers of the Month for November

YMCA’s across the country would not function without the leadership of volunteers, whether serving on our boards or volunteering to coach, it’s important to us that we highlight these stories each month. We hope you enjoy.

This month we would like to recognize three volunteers that led a new program for our YMCA this past fall.

This past summer, the YMCA was approached about taking over the local middle school soccer program, the Junior Warriors. Feeling continued soccer development was a high area of need, the YMCA jumped in to make this project work. However, without three great volunteers, this program could not have been possible.

A special thank you to our boys coach Paul Spies, our girls coach Jim Fodrie, and parent volunteer for many years and the action behind the success of the program, Cathy Weems.

We’re ever grateful for the leadership of these three individuals and look forward to seeing this program continue to grow and develop.