Y not? When some longtime members of North YMCA, who had dabbled in various community volunteer opportunities, learned of a formal international service program within the overall organization -- and a successful version of it at the Hilltop branch -- they decided to go for it in a big Y.
When some longtime members of North YMCA, who had dabbled in various community volunteer opportunities, learned of a formal international service program within the overall organization -- and a successful version of it at the Hilltop branch -- they decided to go for it in a big Y.
The North Y Service Club is affiliated with the Y's Men International Organization, which was founded in Toledo in 1922 by Judge Paul William Alexander, and modeled after a men's only chapter at the Hilltop YMCA.
"We tweaked it by calling it a Y Service Club and making it co-ed," said Paul Weber, YMCA of Central Ohio district vice president in charge of the North branch on Sandalwood Place.
"The group over at the Hilltop, gosh, they've probably been involved for, I'm going to say, 30 years or so," North Y Service Club vice president Tony DiBlasi said.
"Our focus at the North YMCA, we want to customize it a little bit for what was needed in the Northland community, and we also wanted to involve not just men," he added. "We wanted to get women and youth in the volunteer effort."
"What they want to do is they want to help people, and this is a direct way they can do that," Weber said.
"A lot of people want to volunteer, but not so many people want to organize it," said DiBlasi, who also is president-elect.
Some of those who have come together to form the new service club have been talking for as long as four years about doing something to harness the volunteer willpower of North YMCA members, DiBlasi said, and those talks finally reached fruition last fall.
"The club started when volunteers of the North YMCA learned of the needs of the community, through discussions and having involvement in programs through the YMCA in the community, (and) decided a bigger and more social commitment to serve the community at large needed to be addressed," according to an announcement from Weber. "Through informal meetings of interested individuals the group decided to formalize the group and become a part of the Y's Men International Organization, an affiliate to YMCA. As a result of the commitment the group started immediately to develop programs while securing its formal charter from the international organization."
The mission statement of the North Y Service Club reads: "To provide non-discriminatory service, in association with the YMCA, to the Northland Community (and) identify needs and coordinate projects with area churches, businesses, local and civic groups."
Other officers are Joe Segna, the architect who designed to North YMCA, president; Judy Bryant, secretary; and Debbie Brooks, treasurer. All the officers also are on the board of directors, along with Weber as chairman of the fellowship and nominating committees and Susan Strohacker, chairwoman of the service and fundraising committees.
The initial project for the club was "Hats, Boots and Gloves," a clothing collection effort for Northtowne Elementary School.
That first effort brought home to DiBlasi how keenly some in the Northland community need assistance.
"I did cry when I got some of the thank-you letters from these kids," he said. "They were so grateful. One young child was saying that the coat she was wearing had so little insulation in it that she and her brother actually stuffed newspapers in the sleeves or her coat for insulation. I thought, 'Oh, my gosh.' And this is just three or four blocks from our facility."
Other projects have included the installation and decoration of Christmas trees at the intersection of Sandalwood Place and Karl Road along with participation in the Jan. 24 "Diversity Day" event at the North YMCA.
Future efforts -- and the group wants to tackle one project a month, planned two or three months in advance -- are up to what local residents identify as needs, according to DiBlasi.
"We pretty much opened our arms and said we're open to anyone and anything that serves those who are in the Northland community," he said. "Now we're taking suggestions from all of our folks."
The North Y Service Club meets the second Wednesday of every month at the North YMCA. A link to the club will soon be established on the North Y's Web site and a Facebook page also is planned.
More information is available by contacting Dolly Crespo at 885-4252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
"The more we've gotten into this over the last six months, it's just starting to blossom," DiBlasi said.