The great reformer, Frederick Douglas, once said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” I think it’s fair to say that we see that truism played out every day in every community, for both genders. The Y plays a tremendously important role in helping to shape the future for young people.
One of the less talked about roles we play in developing young people is the fact that we are often their first employer. Across Central Maryland, the Y hires somewhere around 800 people a year (that’s not a misprint). A large percentage of those new hires are teenagers who play critical roles as life guards, camp counselors, youth sports instructors, before and after school assistants, fitness coaches, and many more such positions. We take that responsibility as a first employer very seriously, providing a lot of great training that not only helps them to do the job at hand, but also builds long-term skills and confidence for a lifetime. Although we don’t list workforce development as one of our core focus areas, it turns out that we’re essentially in that line of work just because…well, because we have to be!
In fact, we are currently holding career fairs in Towson and Pasadena to fill exciting openings in our youth development programs. I’m never one to shy away from a shameless plug, so if you know a young person (or a not so young person!) who would be interested in working for the Y, tell them to check out our website ymarylandcareers.org to peruse our openings and/or register for a career fair.
So, all this brings me to an email I recently received from a friend of mine, Rhonda Pierce-Brooks. Rhonda and I met several years ago when she was the head of human resources at the National Aquarium in Baltimore and I was on their board. We’ve both moved on since then but have kept in touch over the years, checking in on our respective career and personal journeys. This email from Rhonda really made my day!
Good morning John,
I hope you are doing well.
I just wanted to share this journey my kids have taken through the Dancel Y in Ellicott City.
Twelve years ago they joined as 4 & 8 year olds to learn to swim. That turned into a 12 year (so far) journey of learning to swim like fish and Pioneers to what was then LIT (Leaders in Training). Now they both have summer jobs: Pierce is a three year Lifeguard (Head Guard this summer) and Amanda is a Junior Camp Counselor.
All this is to say, the Y has been a life-long great experience for these kids. Best wishes for the Y’s continued success in providing great experiences for area youth.
She attached this great picture of Pierce and Amanda.
Rhonda’s email and her kids’ journey from learning to swim at the Y to taking on important responsibilities as Y associates at one of our most bustling centers is something that should cheer not just Rhonda and her family, but all of us. The life skills and experiences that Pierce, Amanda and the hundreds like them that we hire every year is something that enriches not just those young people, but our entire community.
All the best,
John K. Hoey
President & CEO
The Y in Central Maryland