Connect. Travel. Serve.

Whether you have been retired for many years or you are a recent retiree, I am sure that you can recall many conversations about membership at your Y.

How do we increase retention rates? How do we recruit new members? How do we improve satisfaction? How do we make sure that all members feel connected?

The questions remain the same today in our New England YMCA Alumni chapter. How do we recruit and retain new members to our chapter? It seems that some things never change.

I had the opportunity to participate in a conference call in support of the new strategic planning process being undertaken by the National Board of YMCA Alumni. The major challenge facing all the chapters that participated was strengthening the membership base to ensure we remain relevant in the future. We all reflected on the fact we have had these discussions many times over the years.

This is a priority of your chapter board, but we cannot do it alone. How can you help? If you know someone who has not renewed, encourage them to do so. Reach out to your colleagues who may not yet be members and encourage them to join. Please send their names and contact information to me and we will send a personal invitation.
New England
There are many, many retirees living in New England who are not members or connected in any way. This group will be an important step to growing our membership. Get involved in the chapter activities.

COVID certainly has made this a challenge and Zoom has helped to keep us connected, but we need and want to increase the number of members who participate. Send us your ideas so we can make sure your needs are met.

Here is a very specific request: I am looking for one or two representatives from each of our New England states who would be willing to serve as Ambassadors to help identify and recruit members and perhaps act as hosts for small, local gatherings to make connection easy and affordable.

It could be as simple as a lunch gathering with no agenda except to meet new and old colleagues. Please give this request consideration. We have picked up a few new retirees and some members have been assigned the task of following up with them to welcome them into our chapter and retirement.

Karin Leslie
New England YMCA Alumni President

Karin's lesson from COVID.

I am a physical person and have always preferred to be active rather than sitting and thinking - completely opposite from my husband. During the last year I hiked, practiced and taught yoga, walked almost every day, gave HIIT training a try and fell back in love with our Rhode Island beaches.

That changed however, when my husband and I got an anniversary gift from our children. It was a subscription to StoryWorth. In order to document, organize and preserve memories, every week we get a question about our lives past and present. The end result will be, after 52 weeks, a bound book that will be shared with my kids and grandkids about our lives. Sound easy? It has not been.

I always have lived my life looking forward and not back. Will it be worth it? Yes. While I will be glad to preserve memories for my family, I have had the ability to reflect on so many parts of my life and recognize, with gratitude, the many blessings I have had, lessons learned and as I reflect on the past, look forward to my post-COVID life with excitement and enthusiasm. --Karin
Our trivia: How did you do?

We asked you these questions in our list issue:

1. Where was the YMCA founded? (London, England)
2. Who was the founder? (George Williams)
3. How old was the founder? (23 years old)
4. What was the date of the founding of the YMCA? (June 6, 1844)
5. How many total members were there of the original founders? (12)
6. What was the name of the business the founder worked for? (Hitchcock & Rogers)
7. Where is the founder buried? (St. Paul's Cathedral)
8. How many religious denominations represented the charter members of the YMCA? (Four)
9. Where are the YMCA stained glass windows located in London that celebrate the work of the YMCA in WWI and the founder of the YMCA? (Westminster Abbey)
10. What was the social change going on in England that sparked the founding of the YMCA? (Industrial Revolution)

The National Service Project Task Force Committee under the leadership of chair Lou Falk has completed its task of identifying a project for YMCA Alumni members to focus on in the future.

The vetting and the ranking of the 30+ projects have taken place by the 17-member task force. Members of the committee agreed the project should have a national, not international, focus.

The Task Force zeroed in on selecting a project that will impact one location versus a common cause that serves multiple locations. They unanimously picked a project they felt strongly about, one that will create a lasting impact on the community it serves. The National YMCA Alumni Board of Directors unanimously approved it.

The "Big Reveal" will be in the May 2021 email version of The CONNECTION.
--Harry Rock, chapter rep
Another new home in YMCA Village...
Our 2020 new home has been completed. A picture of the home with the fortunate family, joined by Andres and the YMCA Young Leaders standing in front of it. The home was constructed this year using local labor and the Y's Young Leaders. This is New England Y Alumni's 17th home, plus a shower/toilet facility, to have been built. Next year in person again.
 --Lou Falk, Immediate past president
Harry Rock has been enjoying a snowy winter on the Nordic ski trails in the Berkshires and Vermont!
Nancy Bonnell did a little skiing as well with Laurie Garbacz, Hal Jordan, and Mike Norklum (a recent retiree from the Pawtucket Y), Steve and Sue Russell.
The Lisks celebrated Eunice's retirement at their condo in Florida in Feb. Good weather and, oops, Doug's kidney stones.
Hal Wright
'The world was a better place...'

By Bob Hoffman

I met Hal Wright when I joined him on Phil Breux's staff in 1979 at the Hartford YMCA when Phil retired and Bob Neal became the Executive Director.
Hal and I supervised the 11 branches, splitting them between us. He was very popular with the branch execs and with their board members. He just had a nice way of providing advice and guidance.

Shortly after I had arrived I remember our working together one day setting up the Board Room for a presentation. He arranged the chairs while I set up the screen and projector. I was fussing with the screen to get it just right and when I was finally done he stood back, admired it and commented about how carefully I had done "a good job" getting it right. He added, "We'll be a good team!"
And I think we were!
Aside from being a gentleman, he was a good athlete. Occasionally we challenged each other to racquetball and while I enjoyed playing with him, I do not remember ever winning.
Hal retired in 1988. Bob Neal had arranged a "farewell" luncheon which was well-attended. Hal and Jane were living in Glastonbury, at the time, where Jane was teaching. Eventually they moved to the Seabury Lifecare Community in Bloomfield where Hal died in January 2021 at the age of 97.
The world was truly a better place because of Hal Wright.
Join us at Reunion '22
Been cooped up quite a bit too long? Make plans to join YMCA Alumni Reunion '22, Jan. 12-15 in New Orleans. Reunion and hotel registration now open.
Click for details.
Chapter leaders
President: Karin Leslie
VP/Programs: Nancy Bonnell
Treasurer/Membership: Alan Hurst
Secretary: Laurie Garbacz
Nor'Easter Editor: Doug Lisk
At Large: Gary Schuyler
At Large: Martha Machnik
At Large: Duffy Brent
National Service Project: Harry Rock
Immediate Past President: Lou Falk

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