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I love the traditional Christmas songs but no song means more to me than "Mary Did You Know?"


Mary did you know that your son would walk on water? Mary did you know that the son you delivered would soon deliver you?"


It reminds me that God can take a simple everyday life like Mary's and do life changing things if we let Him. All things are possible with God.


I hope this season of new beginnings is one you will cherish and allow God to be part of your life.

--Mike Lieber, Chapter Spiritual Lead

YMCA Alumni
William S. Chambers Chapter
Ohio * W. Virginia * N. Kentucky * W. Pennsylvania

December 2023 * View as Webpage

From our President: Connie Clark

'A focus on love and connections'

As Thanksgiving transitions to the Christmas holiday season, I have reflected on what’s most important in my life: I have reflected on those I love and have connections with. 

This includes YMCA Alumni members and current Y employees that have touched my life through the years. So, these are just some of the gifts you have given to me and the thousands of people you served, supported, guided, encouraged and loved. 

Thank you for Overall Life Experiences: You have given me the gift of a better life experience. I can’t imagine my life without the amazing Y staff and volunteers I have worked alongside and that I have come to know throughout the years.

Laughter: So many stories. What a joy to have shared so many truly joyous times with you.

Support: The strong relationships among Y staff and volunteers gave me emotional support during the most trying and vulnerable moments. We allowed each other to cry and receive judgmental kindness and love.

Serenity: Through shared positive experiences and a shared sense of purpose through the YMCA mission, we knew we were changing lives – every day.

Health: Through caring for the needs of others, physically, mentally, and spiritually, our own health improved.

Connections of Faith: We had and still do have a sense of purpose, resilience and shared values that continue to carry us forward as YMCA Alumni. Making positive change in the world.

Amazing Friendships: Through lasting connections of fellowship and working with many of the most wonderful people I have known, I am grateful. What a gift we have been to each other.

Thank you and carry on. I wish many more blessings to you all,

Connie Clark

Chambers YMCA Alumni Chapter President

Hoosier-Buell and Chambers Fall Gathering

Several members of the Chambers Chapter joined with the Hoosier-Buell Chapter for a gathering October 25-26 at Pokagon State Park. The group enjoyed an educational session presented by the Park Naturalist along with an update from Dan Maier on the National Service Project and an informative session with Reid Thebault on the YMCA Retirement Fund. There was plenty of time for fellowship and it was a great opportunity to get to know our neighboring chapter members a little better. Both chapters are hoping to work together on future joint chapter reunions.

2024 Reunions in planning stage

Although we don’t have anything definite to report yet, we are still working on plans for a Spring Reunion in the Canton area and a Fall Reunion in Southwest Ohio. Watch your email for details in early 2024. If you have any suggestions or would like to get involved, please contact Faith Patton-Settles or Keith Lands for the Spring Reunion and Ed Thomas or Julie Kauffman for the Fall Reunion.

Membership Details:

By Dave Patterson

Welcome these new members for 2024 who have joined the Chambers Chapter of YMCA Alumni since our last newsletter:


Joe and Mary Ayers ~ Cincinnati, OH * Mike and Stefanie Bramer ~ Liberty Township, OH * Robin and Shawn Collins ~ Parkersburg, WV * Kathleen and Neil Munger ~ Bowling Green, OH * Abrielle and Christopher Schmitt ~ Parkersburg, WV * Beth and Mark Scheller ~ Columbiana, OH * Meagan and Mike Shaheen ~ Canton, OH * Jeff Snider and Loni Biekirch ~ Parkersburg, WV * Solomia and Ryan Wilson ~ Vienna, WV * Meisa Diop ~ Parkersburg, WV * Jordan Fox ~ Parkersburg, WV * Scott Kerr, Jr ~ Washington, WV * Crystal Leonard ~ Parkersburg, WV * Michaela Piendel ~ Vienna, WV * Christina Welshans ~ Vienna, WV.


MEMBER for a LIFETIME ~ Special recognition to the Chambers Chapter’s youngest Lifetime Member at age 90: The One & Only, J. Richard Bennett of Youngstown, Ohio. Congratulations, Dick!


LOOK OUT, here comes 2024. The easiest way to renew your YMCA Alumni membership for 2024 is to do so online with just a few clicks. Click the button below and follow the simple instructions.


You may also renew by U.S. Mail. Just fill out the Renewal Form sent out to all members in November and return with your check, payable to YMCA Alumni and send to Cindy Koenig, Asst Treasurer, PO Box 725, West Chester, OH 45071


Make Chambers your “home chapter” and join any other Chapter with no additional fee. Just indicate the name of the additional chapter on your renewal form.


Stay CONNECTED… renew your membership today!

Renew Online

ISC wrapping up successful fund drive

By Wayne Uhrig, Chair

ISC will wrap up our annual campaign soon, and we are nearing our goal. It has been very successful, mainly because we have been able to get the word out about what opportunities we have available.

We also had two placements recently. Jonathan Vance

returned from the YMCA Centre Albania, and Teresa Hill spent three weeks at the Grand Bahamas YMCA.

As we finish out this year and prepare for 2024, we are going to be more involved with recruiting alumni volunteers, and recruiting host YMCAs. We are focusing on Latin America and the Caribbean, and will make those YMCA opportunities available as soon as possible.

Visit us on our website page. It lists several opportunities that are still available. (Photo: Wayne Uhrig)

ISC Online

National Service Project:

'Going strong in Dupree'

By Steve Gunn, Chair

I want to say a big Thank You first to you, our chapter members. I also want to say how thankful I am in general. Why? 

The YMCA Alumni National Service Project is going strong in Dupree, South Dakota. We finished the year by having over 60 volunteers from all over the country and the world to build Tiny Homes. Our Chambers Chapter had 4 of those 60 and they came back looking at life differently and saying they had a wonderful time, met new friends, saw some wonderful things concerning the native culture and made a difference in the lives there and for the YMCA of Seven Council fires. 

I am also thankful for the funding of the project. We have had over 600 gifts totaling over $815,000 as of this writing. We still need to get to $850K to fund all the homes as well as the Twigs (shipping containers that will be established at far outreaches of the reservation for program support).

The gift difference will be made up through grants and corporate giving. We hope that the difference amount can be achieved by the time the first wave of volunteers arrive in May 2024. A special thanks to our own Linda Day-Mackessy for assisting in this effort.


Lastly, be sure to visit our National Service Project's completely revamed website ( It will be ready for you to view Jan. 2, 2024.

Nancy and I want to wish everyone of our Chambers Chapter alumni a very wonderful Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 

If you want additional information or have questions about the project, just drop me an email. Steve

Update: Emergency Assistance Fund

By Keith and Becky Lands, Co-Chairs

The YMCA EAF serves a very important service to our colleagues both retired and still active in the movement when an emergency occurs. A significant number of grants have been provided to our younger active staffers in 2023 to help with a loss of a home due to a major fire, uncovered medical expenses due to an accident, and household appliance replacement as the result of a fire.

Fortunately, no retirees have had to make a request, but it’s reassuring to know that should an unexpected need arise, the EAF is there to help. 

The Chambers Chapter has had 18 donors to the EAF with gifts totaling $3,165 so far this year. Traditionally, the Chambers Chapter has been one of the largest donors annually to the EAF.  Last year we had 26 donors. It is our hope that we can exceed that number for 2023. With year-end approaching, please consider a donation to the EAF for 2023.  

Online donations can be made at Or, send a check to:            Emergency Assistance Fund

           c/o YMCA of the USA – Financial Development

           101 N. Upper Wacker Dr., 16th Floor

           Chicago, IL 60606


YMCA World Service:

Make donations through Dec. 31

By Tony Delisio, World Service Chair

In a world where everyone seems to be divided, the YMCA is a place where people come together, and come together you have! I am grateful for your strong support of World Service in 2023.

To date, 16 Chambers Chapter members have contributed $3,475. Total YMCA Alumni giving is $193,788. Overall, more than $2.9 million has been raised for World Service this year.

There is still time to give. Donations to World Service can be made through December 31. Check out the Special Appeal for the Middle East YMCAs at: Click on the blue button below to contribute online. Thank you for Changing the World for Good.

Donate to World Service

A little bit of history:

It began with war; but a YMCA was born

 By Bill McAllister

At the November 2, 2023 meeting of the Chambers Chapter Executive Committee, there was a discussion on the Y Alumni National Service Project, including emotional testimonials from several who have volunteered on this project. It is very interesting how Abraham Lincoln played an indirect role in the establishment of the YMCA in the Dakota Territory. From the website of the YMCA Seven Council Fires, here is a brief history of how it was founded:

In 1862 the Dakota People, tired of semi-starvation and poverty, took part in a war meant to push white settlers out of their lands in Minnesota. At the end of the brief, ill-fated war, 160 Dakota warriors were captured and sentenced to hang.

In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln commuted the sentence of 120 of the younger men. However, 38 of the warriors were hung from a single scaffold in Mankato, Minnesota, making it the largest mass execution in U.S. history. These remaining Native men whose sentences had been commuted, languished in a military prison. Volunteers from the Young Men's Christian Association visited them, bringing clothing, bedding, English language lessons, and Christianity.

The Dakota men were so impressed with the compassion of these YMCA volunteers, that upon their release in 1879, some of them, including Chief Little Crow's son, Thomas Wakeman, started the Koskada Okadiciye, a Young Man's Association, in the Dakota Territory. This was 10 years before South Dakota became a state. 


In 1885, the association was recognized by the national YMCA movement and changed their name to Sioux Young Men's Christian Association. Their goal then, as it still is today, was to teach and encourage the Lakota values of Wawokiye, Woksape, Ohitika, and Wa o'hola (Generosity, Wisdom, Bravery, and Respect) as well as the Y values of Caring, Honesty, Respect, and Responsibility. The name was recently changed from Sioux YMCA to Seven Council Fires YMCA


An editor's note...

By Sue Smith, Chambers Chatter Editor

As I reflect on this past year, it’s been such a joy reconnecting with YMCA colleagues at our reunions and at the YMCA General Assembly in Atlanta where we celebrated the career of our very own Dick Jones and his induction into the YMCA Hall of Fame. If you haven’t been able to join us at our reunions this past year, I hope that you’ll consider coming to one of our events in 2024. 

There’s something magical about the connection we all have through our shared experiences with the YMCA and it’s so much fun to walk into a room and see people I haven’t seen in years and be able to pick up just like it was yesterday. We are truly blessed to have this connection. I hope you enjoy this edition of the Chambers Chatter and invite you to reach out if you have any suggestions for future newsletters.


Wishing everyone all the best for this holiday season. E-mail Sue with suggestions or questions.

Chapter leaders

President: Connie Clark

1st VP: Lowell Nees

2nd VP: Tony Delisio

Secretary: Mike Lieber

Treasurer: John Mack

Immediate Past President: Mike Frith

Editor: Sue Smith

Click on name to send email.

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YMCA Alumni Mission:
" enable members to promote a nurturing worldwide Christian Fellowship that provides educational, social, service and charitable opportunities."