YMCA Branch Name

For Youth Development
For Healthy Living
For Social Development

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YMCA Branch Name

The YMCA Branch Name strengthens the foundations of our community through well-being and fitness, camps, family time, swim, sports and play, and other activities for people of all ages, incomes and abilities. We’re more than just a place to work out. At the Y, we help build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all with the core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility at the heart of everything we do.

With a commitment to nurturing youth development, promoting healthy living, and fostering a sense of social responsibility, the Y ensures that every individual has access to the essentials needed to learn, grow and thrive.



2016 Don Connelly Determination Award recipients share their Y stories:

 Don embodied the true spirit of the YMCA mission on multiple levels.  He overcame many obstacles in life, having suffered from Post-Polio Syndrome and used the Y as his place of wellness, both physically and spiritually.  In addition to his Y-connection, Don was a wonderful human being.  He served as a magician in the USO, entertaining troops home and abroad.  When Don passed away, he supported the Y on a long-term basis, forever helping kids and families who cannot afford programs and services.  Since his passing, we have held the "Changing Lives Determination Celebration" and "Breaking Barriers Award Dinner" recognizing members of the Y who have overcome disabilities, challenges and obstacles to succeed.  They have been wonderfully received by our staff, volunteers, board and other members.  This year we have selected eleven (11) members to honor.  The recipients will be forever recognized in our Rome, Oneida and New Hartford branches.  

Image of Don Connelly

2016 Recipients


Albert Cukierski- Al, a longtime member, faithfully uses the Y seven days week during the day and comes back two nights a week.  He has had multiple injuries and surgeries over the years and counts his regular workouts as the reason he has been able to achieve a full recovery.  Without the Y he thinks he might be using a cane and sitting home.  Al says he takes no medication...just visits the Y.

Michel DeBottis-  In 2015 Mike a traumatic knee injury.  The injury caused a blood clot in his leg that filled his right lung.  He was lucky to survive.  He also suffered from depression following the passing a Rotarian exchange student who lost his battle with cancer.  He gained a large amount of weight.  On the anniversary of the death of this young man, he felt as if he was talking to him and telling him that he no longer had a body and that if he did he would treat it better than he was.   This was the inspiration he needed to turn his life around.  He is also inspired by his kids and his wife and the many who have set a good example for him at the Y.  He know feels a sense of responsibility to set a good example for other and give them the push they need.  

Linda Dixon- In April 2013 Linda was in a bad motorcycle accident with her boyfriend.  A car hit her directly in the leg.  She felt the impact.  Following the accident she was unable to move her leg.  Linda spent a week in the hospital before her leg was amputated.  She did not want to be wheelchair bound.  Her friends, family, coworkers and the staff at the Y gave the encouragement she needed to keep pushing.  The Y staff was determined to keep her going and she was determined to keep going.  The staff made her feel welcome and gave her the help she needed to be independent again.

Eva Ferguson-  Eva loves coming the Y for exercise, the people and most of all because she enjoys it.  She suffered a full stroke years ago and spend nine years in a wheelchair.  She is amazed that she is able to walk again.  The list of exercises that Colleen gave her have helped her work on strength and balance.  She is very grateful for the staff.  Eva reminds us to never say you 'can't'.  If it wasn't for the Y she doesn't know where she would be.    

Julie Sterling- Julie has been a member of the Oneida Y for 15 years.  She works out everyday at 5:30am.  She is motivated by her family.  She wants to set a good example for her niece and nephews.  Julie chooses the Y because it is family oriented.  She has made a lot of friends.  She also appreciates the staff who welcome her each day and help her when she needs it.  Julie is glad to be nominated.  It will help her stay motivated to keep doing what she is doing. 


Larissa Carpenter-  To date Larissa has lost 96 pounds.  She focused on loosing weight because she suffers from polycystic ovarian syndrome and wanted to loose weight so that when she is ready to have children she won't have the struggles that many women with the condition do.  She started by just walking...nothing too strenuous.  She saw changes and eventually started running.  She still follows a low-carb and low-calorie diet.  Larissa is proud to say she is a Y employee.  She loves working in our school age child care program in Rome.  

Mary Lou Conners-  Mary Lou developed eye problems at age 25.  She had a major retinal surgery in Boston to restore her site.  It was a major adjustment following the surgery to not be able to drive or work.  It took a lot of courage for her to get out of her comfort zone and leave the house and do things for herself.  Joining the Y was a great opportunity to build her self-esteem and confidence while exercising and meeting new people.  The people she has met at the Y have become her friends.  They share cooking and baking tips, talk about their children and share their faith.    

Bernard Galster-  Bernie swims at the Rome Y.  He actually learned to swim there when he was just 6 or 7 years old and has swam competitively throughout his life.  He even competes in triathlons.  Coming to the Y his has met lots of people.  Many swim laps like he does, but others cannot.  They might be recovering from surgeries or injuries.  They inspire him, but he also inspires them.   He tells others to just "do what you can do...maybe next month you can do more."

Karen Martin- Diagnosed Karen was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis many years ago.  The disease left her unable to walk, something she has never fully regained.   In 2014 she had to stop working.  It was a difficult time for her.  Her son, Zachery, encouraged her to go to the Y.  She barely made the short walk there.  Someone told her about the pool though.  She loved the water and gave it a try.  She found her niche and her joy.  It was just what she needed.  She had fun made new friends.  With regular workouts in he water she improved her health, dropped her cholesterol and improved her spirits.  

Christina Vinci- At the age of 27 Christina starting experiencing back pain.  At the time she was waitressing and working full-time.  She went back and forth to the chiropractor before visiting an orthopedic specialist who discovered a tear in a disc in her lumbar spine.  She had to put her regular workouts on hold.   That is why the Y is so important to her.  She feels the Y has so much more to offer.  She now works out in the pool and it has made a huge difference.  The people at the Y have become like a family to her.  


Laurie Ferries- Laurie believes that teaching children social responsibility and to be positive force is important.  She works in our before and after school program in New Hartford.  Laurie came from a broken home which at the time was not the norm, now it is.  Many children come with a heavy burden. Recently Laurie went through a breast cancer diagnosis.  When she went to tell her sister she saw her niece still battling the effects of chemo.  Her niece was her hope.  She is now cancer free and can encourage others.  She believes that the Lord allows you to go through things so you can help others.  Working with children she finds that you just need to listen and be there for them and help them find laughter.  

The Y is committed to providing programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all. We make every effort to ensure that no one is turned away due to inability to pay. Click to read more about our financial assistance.