By Tamas Mondovics
From coaching sports teams, plan events, raise funds and handle dozens of key responsibilities, YMCA volunteers serve an important role in association’s daily function.
According to a recent report nearly 9,000 volunteers motivated by their desire to give back to their local community, donate an estimated quarter million dollars worth of time to the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA annually.
One such long-time volunteer who has earned her local YMCA staff as well as the community’s respect and admiration is Campo Y volunteer Ayden Thomas.
To acknowledge her seven years of dedicated service, Thomas, 31, who enjoys the great support from her mom Kim, was recognized late last month during a special surprise anniversary celebration hosted by the Campo Y staff.
Ayden was born with Spina bifida and is wheelchair bound. What she lacks in mobility, however, she makes up for in spirit including the more than 5,000 volunteer hours that she has logged at the Campo Y, not to mention the thousands of dollars that she had a hand in raising for the facility.
“I love working here,” Ayden said. “The Y gave me an opportunity and I have grown so much from where I have started, which of course, has a lot to do with the positive environment that I work in.”
Known for her happy, outgoing and positive attitude, Ayden currently handles a wide range of assignments including serving as communications and Y stewardship coordinator, working closely with facility sponsors and program promoters.
Over the years, Ayden has learned computer and people skills. She also helps to plan special events and gives presentations at board meetings.
“When I first started seven years ago, I didn’t know much about the Y and didn’t really know what the letters meant, but I am so thankful for the opportunity and what working here helped me achieve.”
Y officials acknowledged that weren’t for her willingness and volunteer spirit, Ayden would be stuck inside her home all day, while her mother works full-time.
Campo YMCA VP of Operations Rob Gray emphasized Ayden’s exemplary attitude when he said, “One thing that struck me and continues to impress me is Ayden’s smile and positive spirit every time she comes to work. She has done this 16 hours a week for seven years straight.”
As an added benefit, volunteering at the Y has given Ayden a way to meet new people in a friendly welcoming environment, to improve her decision-making and time management skills not to mention gaining a whole lot of self-awareness.
Her mom agreed when she said, “I have seen Ayden’s self-confidence grow and her willingness to try new things expand.”
To sum up her appreciation for the opportunity to be an integral part of the Campo Y family as well as to serve her community Ayden said, “It has been a healthy experience and a blessing. The Y has been there for me for the past seven years and I don’t see myself going anywhere anytime soon.”
For more information about the Campo YMCA please visit www.tampaymca.org.