The Nashua Telegraph reported the below article in the Nashua & Region section of their Friday, November 16th edition.
YMCA of Greater Nashua celebrates 131 years of service to the community
By Adam Urquhart, Staff Writer
NASHUA – Officials with the YMCA of Greater Nashua celebrated 131 years of being active in the community Thursday morning with their annual breakfast meeting.
Organization CEO Mike LaChance said when the organization began, only about 17,000 residents lived in Nashua. Today, there are about 90,000 just in the city limits.
If you look back today, most people wouldn’t realize – if you were involved with the Y in that point in time – what this Y would turn into 131 years later,” LaChance said.
LaChance has been with the Y for 25 years. In just this past year, 32,000 individuals were served by the YMCA of Greater Nashua, which LaChance said is almost twice as many residents that lived in Nashua the year the Y was founded.
“The YMCA continues to be a key collaborator in making community wide change,” Lydia Foley, who serves on the board of directors, said. “The last year has been amazing. We very much look forward to the year ahead as we continue to grow and serve more people.”
She said due to the Y’s supporters, they were able to provide nearly $1.4 in community benefits and services, as well as $800,000 in financial assistance to ensure the Y is accessible to all.
Furthermore, longtime member of the Y, Greg Derderian first accessed the Y when it was still on the corner of Temple and Spring streets at 8 years old back in 1951. Since then, the Y has been a large part of his life as he’s spent countless hours there, whether competing in checkers tournaments at the former location, or keeping busy as the first vice president of Alpha Hi in 1956, one of the first YMCA leadership programs.
Thursday, Derderian was inducted into the Y’s Hall of Fame.
“His dedication as a volunteer to our community, to our kids, to help them not only build self-esteem, to feel great about themselves, but also to be able to develop their skills on a much higher level than they would be otherwise,” LaChance said of Derderian.
Although Derderian spent time refereeing basketball and soccer, and teaching math at Mastricola Middle School in Merrimack, one of his more significant accomplishments was taking kids to the national level as one of the first coaches of the YMCA swim team in 1969. He served as the head coach from 1975 to 1996 and started Southern New Hampshire Fins Swim Team in 1996. Additionally, Derderian would coach from 5:30-7 a.m. before heading off to teach math to students in Merrimack.
“The Y was a significant part of my growing up, from the time I joined back in 1951 up to today,” Derderian said. “They helped me become the person I am.”
Although Derderian’s Hall of Fame induction was the most significant award distributed, other volunteers also were recognized with awards during Thursday’s breakfast.
In regard to the successes seen in the past year, LaChance said more than 11,000 children under the age of 18 came through their doors at the Nashua and Merrimack YMCA’s, Camp Sargent and Camp Spaulding. Through the year, officials were able to provide new programs and expand upon others to serve more individuals in the community. Organizers now offer more than 325 programs in the area of youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. LaChance said at the Merrimack facility, they have a program serving 275 children from ages six weeks to 6 years of age on a daily basis.
“That program was recognized by the YMCA of the USA, our national office, as the largest single site early education center in the country this past year,” LaChance said.
He also highlighted the arts and humanities programming and how it has evolved over time. He said more than 350 kids go through the various programs on a weekly basis. Also, between Camp Sargent and Camp Spaulding, 1,150 children were collectively served this past summer.
Another highlight LaChance touched upon was that 3,000 kids learned to swim at the Y last year.
“This past year, our Y, our volunteers, our organization raised more than $600,000 collectively between our annual campaign, our special events and our grants to be able to offset the cost of some of those programs for individuals and to be able to make some of those programs free to the community,” LaChance added.
Other Awards Handed out this year:
This year’s Volunteers of the Year honored at the Annual Meeting are:
Policy Volunteer of the Year: Helen Principio, YMCA Board member
Program Volunteer of the Year: Linda Feldeisen
The role of YMCA volunteers is to provide leadership, guidance and financial support to the organization as it works to provide programs and services to youth and families of the Greater Nashua area. Board members work with staff to develop a long range strategic plan that guides the implementation of programs and initiatives that support the Y’s efforts to nurture the potential of youth, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and give back and support neighbors. “I am excited to have these wonderful community leaders joining our Board of Directors to aid us in our great work and service to the Greater Nashua region,” said Michael LaChance, YMCA of Greater Nashua CEO.
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