Official Newsletter of
The World Fellowship Of YMCA Retirees
August 2021 * View as Webpage
WYFR's first chair:
A great leader to be missed
Prescott K. Johnson (1930-2021)

After living an abundant life serving others, about seven weeks after turning 91, Dr. Prescott K. Johnson, our dear friend and colleague went peacefully to be with the Lord.
There are too many things that we can remember about his legacy to our worldwide YMCA movement. He was affectionatealy known as “Pres” by his peers, and by his hundreds of students in Latin America as “Profe,” the nickname for “Professor.” During his amazing international service as Fraternal Secretary with an office in Montevideo, Uruguay, Pres helped in the strengthening process of YMCAs in Latin America. He also got to master the Spanish language which he strived to learn and always kept as his second language.
Jerry Prado Shaw had a close relationship with Pres. Click the button below for more details and to read Jerry's remembrances.
From the chair...

As WFYR leadership prepares for the 2022 world meeting in Denmark, we are exploring the idea of an intergenerational workshop between WFYR members and selected YMCA Change Agents.

The benefits of such programming have long been known. Clearly there is value of a two-way transfer of knowledge, expertise and insight between senior and young adults.

Some have argued that observational learning and learning through dialogue are central to moral growth and personal development (Bandura 1977).

John Naylor, our WFYR conference program chair, and I are exploring this concept. Is there interest among our members and do we have available workshop leadership?

In some of my initial reading, I came across a quote from students at Dublin City University that were exploring these concepts. First, “We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own.” A second quote was “. . . privileged to be part of something this special.”

Here are some wise words to provide some assurance for the older learners in participating in this project. Never be afraid of doing something new. Remember that an amateur built the ark, and a group of professionals built the Titanic.

Readers are receiving this edition of Bridges in its new Constant Contact format. Note that WFYR leadership list is just a click away at the end of this newsletter. We appreciate the help we are getting from YMCA Alumni’s publishing source and friends of WFYR, Craig Altschul and Peggi Simmons.
Phil Dwyer
WFYR Chair
Thoughts from the editors...

Your editors and WFYR leaders are saddened to announce the death of Prescott Johnson, one of WFYR’s earliest founders and continued leader and supporter of our organization. Jerry Prado Shaw has contributed remarks in his memory above.

This edition of Bridges celebrates the advent of the year 2022. Although the world will still be struggling with the goal of completely eradicating the pandemic, there are plans for YMCA retirees to gather, share and plan together.

Our friends in South America and the Caribbean are getting ready for “Agape,” a regional gathering planned for 2020, but postponed by COVID-19. The World YMCA will be hosting YMCA participants from around the globe in Aarhus, Denmark. Y retirees in the U.S. will gather for a regional celebration in New Orleans with a cruise scheduled after the event. See the link for details (a new feature of Bridges) and consider attending if you are able.

Your editors have spent more than a year at their home on the shore, away from the threats of crowds and emerging variants in our city. We miss friends and the activity that was a part of city life before the pandemic. But we feel fortunate to have a safe retreat. 

As activities restart, we look forward to resuming our city life. We also sincerely wish that all Americans who are able would heed the call to get vaccinated protecting others as well as themselves. It is sad and frustrating that millions are refusing the jab as their youth contract the illness, and while nations around the world are desperate for the opportunity.
Len and Joyce Wilson

Please email photos and/or articles to Len Wilson or postal mail to Len at
1101 Washington Avenue, #307, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Arca de Noe News: Latin America and Caribbean
Agape 2022

Roberto Uria, Vice President of WYFR-Laca, is working on the organization of Agape 2022. This is much awaited by all Retired Secretaries of Latin America and the Caribbean, which is Agape.

The event was supposed to take place in 2020, but Roberto predicts that Agave should take place between April 13-16, 2022.
VII World Conference of WYFR

The WYFR World Conference will be held in 2021 in the city of Aarhus, Denmark, concomitant with the XX World Council of the YMCA. Roberto Uria informed there are already registered retirees who will represent Latin America and the Caribbean at the events. As to a possible subsidy to help participants, Roberto requests that those interested should contact colleague Jerry Prado Shaw for more information.
Canada YMCA: Membership Growth, Courageous Leadership
By Franco Savoia, President

The Canadian Y Alumni membership has grown by 20 percent over 2020 to 124. Alumni are appreciating the opportunity to re-connect through the online gatherings, and making great use of its Zoom license. On June 21, the Alumni hosted its third national gathering since November 2020. Peter Dinsdale, (photo left) CEO of Y Canada, presented a frank and heartfelt message to 35 appreciative alumni.

He shared the courageous leadership of Y boards and staff leadership across our country: closing buildings, moving to online programming and offering its capacity to assist local governments response to the pandemic by offering Y facilities to provide and emergency food and vaccinations. One smaller Y has closed never to re-open after more than 100 years of service. Seventeen centres have also closed never to re-open. Paradoxically, the Y’s philanthropic capacity has never been stronger.

Our 2021 Secours Speciaux campaign, under John Haddock’s leadership, will likely double the amount raised in 2020 to over $10,000.

We continue to develop local Alumni Hubs around the larger centres across our country. Diana Deakin-Thomas, our new Tielines editor, continued to publish our official newsletter bimonthly.
The Philippines:
A time to reorganize
By Liberato “Levi” Siaron
Chairman, now President of the YMCA of Quezon City

The untimely demise of Crisologo “Cris” Caparoso last June 22, 2020, erstwhile Chairman of the Philippine Fellowship of YMCA Retirees (PFYR) for the last 10 years, necessitated the reorganization of the PFYR last October 31, 2020. It was an opportune time, since two years back another officer of the PFYR died without any replacement as yet.
Due to travel restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the reorganization was held via Zoom.
PFYR will be holding a general membership meeting late August or early September 2021 to come out with some policies which it may recommend to the YMCA National Council through the Board of Trustees in time for the 50th YMCA National Council Meeting and 110th Anniversary Celebration of the YMCA of the Philippines Nov.12-13, 2021.

India: Ys help victims of COVID-19
By T. Thomas, President

The second wave of COVID-19 hit India very badly and the total death toll exceeded 4 million. States with the metro cities of Delhi, Bombay, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore and my own state, Kerala, were the worst hit with the highest test positivity rate. 

Because of the lockdown, the prices of commodities shot up. Simultaneously the price of fuel also shot up which doubled the misery of the common man. As schools and colleges were closed down, classes were held online. The poor and the marginalized found it extremely difficult to buy computers or smart phones to facilitate their children to having online education.

Because of the spread of COVID-19, thousands were dying daily, and many millions were hospitalized, pushing their families to misery and making the children orphans and destitute.
Realizing the need of the hour, YMCAs came forward to support the needy families and helped the victims in different ways. Some of the YMCAs distributed food kits containing grocery items while some others served breakfast or meals to the hungry. (Photo: Kunnamkulam YMCA)

Some of the city YMCAs donated oxygen equipment and oxy meters while others arranged education materials such as tablet computers, televisions, textbooks, etc. Various YMCAs arranged distribution of COVID-related relief and support materials to the poor and needy. Many YMCA members joined the health and relief teams as volunteers. The National Council and the Regional Committees took the lead and coordinated the program.

Note: IFYR silver jubilee celebrations are being postponed indefinitely due to the Covid situation and the lockdown.
USA: A camp service project and reunion
20 YMCA Alumni volunteers spent a week getting the Sioux YMCA Camp Marrowbone open fopr its 50th summer.
Members of YMCA Alumni will gather in the world-famous city of New Orleans for Reunion '22, followed by a Caribbean cruise.
By Jean Carmichael, President

A group of 20 YMCA Alumni members representing the International Service Corps (ISC), a program of YMCA Alumni, made good use of being vaccinated and able to travel again to journey to the Sioux YMCA in South Dakota in June where they helped prepare Camp Marrowbone to open for the summer. They painted the cabins, built latrines, and even built a new cabin for the camp director.

Among this group were also some of the YMCA Alumni National Service Project committee members who were able to take time to visit the YMCA in the tiny town of Dupree and get a first-hand look at the proposed location for our project to build tiny homes. Their experience has increased the excitement among our members for this project which we are hopeful will begin next year.
Also on the horizon is our YMCA Alumni Reunion Jan. 12-15, 2022, in New Orleans, Louisiana. We would love to have any of you join us. Our members cherish our strong ties with WFYR.

We hope to have an update soon about two new proposals for the Global Retirement Initiative (GRI) in Kenya and Sri Lanka that are currently working their way through the Program and Investment Committees of the World Brotherhood Fund.

Much more information about YMCA Alumni, our upcoming reunion and our international initiatives can be found by visiting our website. Click the button below.
L to R:  Steven Milner. Roger and Elaine Hunt. David Pendle. David Bedford. Jonathan Martin CEO at Trinity YMCA. Jane "Wake". Jim Lamb. Liz "Wake". Hannah Milner. Paul Kerridge. Vic Hills. Mary Hills. Thelma Kerridge. (President Graham Clarke had to leave prior to photo.)
Y's Retired/UK: Lunch in Cambridge,
a tribute to founder Reg Wake
By Jim Lamb, Reunion Organizer

"It was a memorable day in the life of Cambridge Reunion
Annual Lunches. I know – because I was there!”     

A more disparate (different in kind!) but amazing group of colleagues you would have difficulty to find, but those present at the Y's Retired Cambridge Reunion Lunch, held on 7th July 2021, filled the bill.

There is a uniqueness in YMCA retired colleagues and laypersons meeting together to socialize over lunch, sharing their experiences of many years through the YMCA. Such was the case when 15 persons exchanged earnest conversation before, over and after lunch.  
We celebrated the life of Reg Wake (photo right) , recognized the amazing life of this founder of the Y’s Retired of the UK, and enjoyed accounts from his two daughters, Jane and Liz.

The meeting opened with a fine tribute to Reg preceding a ‘grace’ given by our President Graham Clarke.  “Round Robins” included an important input by guest Jonathan Martin CEO of the Cambridge & Peterborough YMCA, who had spoken to the group earlier about exciting developments in his work pre-Covid and now, how the ‘virus’ had struck at the very heart of the YMCA, causing very serious problems for the future.

Roger and Elaine Hunt then presented Reg’s daughters with orchids marking the occasion in memory of their father. Stephen Milner gave a presentation on the birth and history of the British Boys for British Farms Scheme. It was an outstanding achievement. The Chair thanked Stephen not only for the presentation, but also on behalf of the YMCA for his outstanding research and for arranging occasional meetings with ‘men’ who were once BBBF ‘boys.'
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BRIDGES is published with the support of YMCA Alumni of the USA. Editors: Len and Joyce Wilson. Production by Craig Altschul + Associates, Tucson, Arizona, USA