JACK OLSON: INVESTING IN THE COMMUNITY AND IN MYSELF AT THE YMCA
Jack Olson had a plan for retirement. He spent many years traveling extensively for his job over his 27 years in the high-tech industry and in his words, “I wasn’t taking great care of myself. I was overweight. Stressed out, irritable, not sleeping well. My plan was to make significant changes to better my health.” Jack’s family had been Y members over the years. His two children, Megan and Ryan, both attended Y summer camps for multiple years. Upon heading into retirement, he started his wellness journey by using his employer’s educational benefit to earn a personal trainer certification, took a nutrition course, and got trained as a yoga teacher.
Jack balanced his job with giving back to his community through non-profit board service since 2013. He recently helped guide Families in Transition (whose mission is to break the cycle of homelessness) through their successful non-profit CEO search. Through that process, he connected with many in the non-profit community to learn about how other organizations managed that important and complex challenge. Through those interviews, he connected with the Chief Volunteer Officer at the Granite YMCA association in Manchester. Jack learned a lot more about the Y and was impressed about the mission and vision of the Y.
When he and his family moved from Brookline (NH) to Nashua, he shared that he was looking to begin volunteering for an organization closer to home that was tied into wellness. “I was drawn into what the Y was doing for seniors and our youth, especially during the pandemic.” Since retirement, Jack and his wife Ellen have been active Y members, enjoying group exercise classes, walking the track, and doing strength training. He loves the MX4 classes at Westwood Park YMCA. “I’ve taken yoga classes and worked out in the wellness centers – but I really love the group exercise classes with other members. We chit chat and have fun while working out. The instructors are great. Their workout programs are challenging and thoughtful – the instructors do a wonderful job.”
“Making these healthy changes in my life has had a such positive influence on my life. It’s important to me to maintain mobility, independence and quality of life for as long as I can as I get older. I saw all the work that the Y does with seniors, not only physical activities, but the community aspect of it. Getting out of the house, connecting with friends, and interacting, is all very important. And the Y helps make that happen.”
As a member and a donor, Jack feels good about his investment in the important work of the Y. “The Y stepping up during COVID was inspirational. Everything the organization was doing during the pandemic, from childcare for first responders and assisting with remote learning, I was so impressed at how much of an impact it made on families. How could these essential workers get back to their jobs without childcare? How could kids learn remotely without access to computers? The Y recognized the need, stepped up and delivered for the community when it counted most.”
When working full-time, I was involved with non-profits in by volunteering and serving on boards. I always took advantage of my company’s matching gift program or applying for grants and was successful in raising money through those avenues. This year, Jack had the opportunity to apply for grant in support of the Y’s work through an organization he’s involved with. “They were distributing assets to non-profit organizations across the country through a donor advised fund.” Thanks to Jack’s application, the YMCA was the beneficiary of a $50,000 gift, which supported both the annual campaign and the endowment fund. The Y was one of nearly 100 organizations from around the United States who benefited from this organization’s philanthropic efforts.
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