Y Be A Hero

Not all heroes wear capes.

Heroes have the power to transform lives. The simple acts of encouraging a friend, dedicating time to volunteer, and striving to make a difference within a job move individuals into the hero category.

At the Mansfield YMCA, staff members, instructors and volunteers are taking time to recognize heroes that are contributing to the magnetic community. The Y fosters youth development, healthy living and social responsibility for people of all ages. 

Mansfield YMCA coach and referee Stephen Greene invests in youth ages K-6 and their families His coaching philosophy includes reviewing athlete expectations including showing respect, care and pride when conducting themselves on and off the field. “My approach is you have to understand the kids and how they learn,” Greene said. “You have to incorporate all of that learning into one practice or program.” Greene appreciates the small victories when teaching basketball and football to young children.

“If they are able to do just running without prompting, it’s a success,” Greene said. A differentiator with YMCA youth sports is a focus on building character, not just athletic skills. “Parents should choose the Y for their children’s sports because the people here have been doing it for such a long time and care about the success of the children,” Greene said. Greene’s tenure at the Mansfield YMCA dates back to 2002 as he worked in various positions including childcare. He also works out at the YMCA. “I myself play racquetball with a bunch of retired men,” Greene said. “They also teach me a lot of things and tell me what to look forward too.” 

Volunteer and instructor Barb Kessler sees children and older adults interacting regularly.“I see more civility,” Kessler said. “People are finding common ground.” Kessler sees heroes emerge within her pool-based group fitness classes. One of Kessler’s heroes is a 96-year-old woman who attends water aerobics with a defibrillator. Kessler admires the dedication she has to maintain her health through exercise. Fellow seniors drive her to class and bring her clothing and personal items when needed. Throughout her 27 years at the Mansfield YMCA, she has noticed seniors moving from a wheelchair to a walker with a better outlook on life. People in her classes form friendships that extend beyond the Y to lunches and even travel experiences. Kessler feels supported by her class participants as they brought dinner and visited after her last surgery. “They are just such wonderful people,” Kessler said. Kessler wants community members to know that the YMCA is not just a gym, it’s a movement. “You can come, make new friends and feel better about life in general,” Kessler said.

“Geneva has a great grasp on children,” Mansfield YMCA President/CEO Cristen Gilbert said. “There is such a level of respect. A child who would have behavioral issues in another class does well in Geneva’s class. She has a way of getting the kids to listen.” Hodo makes an extra effort to greet parents, update them on their child’s progress, and hear their concerns. She appreciates the YMCA staff who have become like family. The feeling is mutual as Gilbert created an Employee of the Year award in 2013 named after Hodo, who displays the Y’s mission through her work each day. “Miss Geneva’s work ethic set the standards for those being nominated for the Employee of the Year,” Gilbert said. “Each year the YMCA Senior Staff will recognize one key employee that deserves to be applauded for their dependability, for providing such a high quality of service and for consistently exceeding the expectations set before them.” Five Geneva Award winners have been named since the award’s inception. Hodo wants people to know that the YMCA staff go above and beyond to create a clean facility and supportive community for Mansfield Area residents.

Director of Marketing and Development Sara Baker started her position in August 2017. She not only plunged into her work, but she also participates in programs available at the Y. “The more you get involved here, the more you just find those good people within your community,” Baker said. “I found so many people willing to offer advice. Being pregnant, there are limitations. The instructors and staff are very willing to step in and offer advice. They do that with everyone.”

The Mansfield YMCA welcomes all residents to become members regardless of income. Last year, the Mansfield YMCA subsidized approximately $360,000 in membership fees. Become a hero by investing in the Mansfield Area YMCA today!