MAKING A DIFFERENCE:
How a member-led initiative supports our community partners.
Togetherhood, the Y’s member-led volunteer service program, activates Y members to work together to plan and lead service projects that respond to local community needs. Created just over ten years ago by Y USA, this signature program offers members a unique opportunity to give back to their community. Togetherhood is unique in that it is member led, with a Y staff advisor, and all projects must benefit outside organizations and not the Y association. It is a great way to not only strengthen our partnership relationships but shows other organizations we value them and their contribution to our community by lending our support.
When Togetherhood first implemented our association was happy to embrace the initiative and create our own team, which was led by Y members. The successful group completed 4-5 projects per year such as the beautification of the grounds at the Merrimack library, facility improvements for the Nashua Soup Kitchen, diaper drives for Share, and many more! The projects were able to bring families, generations and neighbors together for a common goal as well as allow new friendships to form. Togetherhood was a sturdy foundation of our volunteerism efforts until 2020 when the Covid pandemic hit and we had to cease efforts due to health concerns. We’re excited to share that along with some new leadership and a desire from members we have restarted Togetherhood at our association! Volunteer Coordinator, Leila Saremi, is excited to take on this project as the staff liaison, along with Togetherhood Chair, and longtime Y member, Colleen Derderian.
Colleen shared that she has been a member for over 40 years, first coming to the Y to enroll her children on our Swim Team. It was there that she met Greg, the Swim Team Coach at the time, who convinced her to help coach and the two ending up hitting it off only to get married several years later! Colleen and Greg have continued to remain active at the Y in programs for their kids and themselves, however Colleen said she didn’t get involved as a volunteer until about 8 years ago when she retired from her career as a Preschool Special Education Teacher in the Nashua School District. Colleen has previously volunteered for the Y with events such as the Kids Tri and Adult Tri and a few months ago Leila approached her after looking into reinstating Togetherhood at our association to see if Colleen would be interested in helping to lead the charge. With Leila’s assistance, Colleen was able to secure their first volunteer project which was at the Nashua Senior Center’s Spaghetti City, where she and a few others served meals, scooped ice cream and helped with the overall clean up. Since then Colleen has organized a few more projects for the group such as volunteering at the Sullivan Farm Apple Fest, a clean-up within Mine Falls in partnership with the City of Nashua, and a couple more events at the Senior Center. Colleen expressed that the group has a goal to complete 4-5 projects per year and is looking forward to expanding our efforts and partnering with even more organizations. Colleen shared that the Y has been a large part of her and her family’s lives and that volunteering at this time just feels right. “The Y inspires this work”, she reflected. “Throughout your life you have people that help you, you may or may not know them, but they gave their time to help me. I have the time now to give back to the community. I believe in paying it forward.” We’re so grateful for all of Colleen’s hard work as well as the efforts of the members of Togetherhood. It’s because of their work and dedication that helps to build strong communities. We look forward to what the future brings for the Togetherhood initiative!
To find out more or to be part of Togetherhood please reach out to Leila Saremi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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