It was a Happy Holiday Party;

Our first since 2019

Here's a big "shout out" to Verna Griese for opening up her Temecula home for our first Holiday Party since before COVID. It was well attended, and included sumptuous food, cookie decorating and a sharing circle. A good time was had by all.

March 2024

Connect. Travel. Serve.

Hello Craig,

Happy springtime, and Leap Year too!


As we leap into spring, I’m grateful for the beautiful flowers and greenery throughout our communities. After all the rain these past few months, I hope you are enjoying the sunshine and outdoors as much as I am.


The first quarter of 2024 has been a challenge for me, but what makes it all worthwhile is family and friends that are supportive in so many ways. I truly want to express my gratitude to the Marston Chapter Board, as they have all stepped up to offer their ongoing support and cover the logistics of the chapter.


As we move through the rest of 2024, I hope to see all of you at our alumni planned events to enjoy time together. You’re welcome to bring family or friends to join us on April 11, October 31, and December 5.


I hope you will all take advantage of the great opportunities for members of YMCA Alumni: The National Service Project, the YMCA Alumni Travel Club adventures, trip to Tijuana (October 21-26), volunteering on committees, attending events, traveling, fun, and of course, fellowship!


“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much” – Helen Keller

Jeannie Schmelzer, President, YMCA Alumni Marston Chapter



By Steve Rowe

It has been almost two years since Denise and I, Judy and Sam traveled to the YMCA of Seven Council Fires site on the Cheyenne River Reservation in Dupree, South Dakota. After a year of planning, we were excited for a life-changing adventure to be part of a project that will provide much needed housing on the reservation. (Photo left.)

In addition to preparing the site for the Tiny Homes, Sam, with his extensive construction experience, led a group completing several repairs of the YMCA building. It was a treat to hear from the YMCA staff, the program participants, and members of the reservation who shared their experiences and life on the reservation.

I was particularly impacted by a tribal elder sharing his experience growing up on the reservation attending a boarding school, separated from family and his siblings.

Our YMCA Alumni members have now raised $851,000 and 168 volunteers have traveled to South Dakota.

The Marston Chapter has been actively involved in the National Service Project since its inception. Thank you all for your support!

The word is out!

We are now in the third year of the project in partnership with the YMCA of the Seven Council Fires to help meet their mission to provide transitional housing for residents of the tribe’s reservation.

We are excited to report that 111 volunteers have registered for five waves this year.

If you are interested in a memorable week and making a transformational impact, start planning for 2025! No construction experience is required. Your volunteer experience will include a mix of work, free time, sightseeing, and opportunities to interact with residents and learn about their culture.

What about the Twigs?

It is not possible or practical for many who live on the reservation, which is spread over 4,267 square miles, to travel to Dupree to participate in YMCA programs.

The YMCA of Seven Council Fires has determined that the best strategy to serve isolated communities on the reservation is to bring programs to select communities throughout the reservation.

The construction of the Twigs, or community program centers, will commence after the Tiny Home Village is substantially complete because the “shipping containers” that will be remodeled for indoor and outdoor program space are currently storing the building materials for the Tiny Homes. Architects are currently working on the plans and renderings.

The isolated communities on the reservation have extremely limited access to services and programs to meet their needs. The YMCA will provide indoor and exciting outdoor youth and family program space planned to meet the specific needs of each community.

The first Twig will be constructed to serve the Cherry Creek community which is 56 miles from the YMCA in Dupree. (Photo above.)

Service Project Website

Reports from the Marston Board

Membership ChairJudy Wurtzbacher is happy to announce our chapter had 100 percent membership renewals from 2023 roster. Our goal is to increase membership in 2024. If you know a YMCA retiree or past Y employee, invite them to attend one of our gatherings and encourage them to join our chapter. Joining can be easily done online by clicking HERE.

Our newest member is Nancy Dortch. Nancy’s YMCA career began in Oregon followed by Santa Barbara with major time at the Copley Branch. Nancy recently completed her Y career at the Corporate office in the Personnel Department. Be sure to welcome Nancy at a future Marston Chapter gathering.

Program Chair Debby Lenz reminds all to be on the lookout for an “evite” to our April 11 gathering. Our group will tour the Old Globe followed by lunch at a restaurant in Balboa Park. Future 2024 gatherings are scheduled for October 31 and December 5. Details will be sent in advance.

World Service Chair Rick Riehman notes struggling YMCAs throughout the world received financial assistance through our World Service efforts. Many thanks to six Marston Chapter members who contributed a total of $810.

Join us on YMCA Alumni's Reunion-at-Sea Jan. 26-Feb. 2, 2025

By Bea Halk, Reunion Committee member

Enjoy this YouTube video introduction to our Reunion-at-Sea. Click the arrow, skip ad and get inspired to register now.


Join us January 26 – February 2, 2025 at our YMCA Alumni Reunion 7-night cruise on the Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas. Reconnect with friends and colleagues, and join in the fun on board. Visit three exciting ports of call in the beautiful Western Caribbean: Roatan, Honduras, and Costa Maya and Cozumel Mexico. Hosted by West Region YMCA Alumni Chapters (Allen-Stone, Grand Canyon, Lyon, Marston, McCoy, and Shriner). Our cruise departs and returns to the beautiful new Royal Caribbean terminal in Galveston, Texas.


Plan to fly into Houston a day or so early to Hobby Airport (George

Bush International is much farther from Galveston). The committee is planning a tour of the nearby Johnson Space Center.  


Reunion fee is only $99 and includes a special champagne lunch aboard ship, a commemorative reunion t-shirt, an on-board photo background for selfies and administrative costs. Please note - Tour of space center and shuttles are optional extras, not included in registration or cruise fees.


 More information on booking your ship stateroom can be found on the YMCA Alumni Travel Club website. Click the button below.

Reunion Details

News from our members

From Steve & Pattie Griffin: We continue to enjoy spending time with our sons Matt and Dave and their families including five grandchildren. Recently Steve and Dave got to go to the Super Bowl thanks to the Las Vegas Raiders. We always look forward to getting together.

From Bea Halk: Many thanks for the condolence cards, calls and contributions to City of Hope in memory of my son Bob who passed away December 30. We are doing ok and taking one day at a time. On the lighter side…. My friend Carol and I took a “Tripster” bus outing to see the Christmas lights and decorations at the Mission Hotel and surrounding areas in Riverside. It was an overwhelming experience. Last month my kids took me camping at KQ Ranch outside Julian. We had a wonderful time hiking, visiting the Wolf Preserve and spending time together at one of Bob’s favorite spots. 

From Steve Mott & Karen: We are presently driving to San Francisco for the week. Haven't been up to the “City” for quite a while, so looking forward to the visit. We are looking forward to lots of travel in May and June. 

From Dave and Pam Warfe: We are enjoying our life in Northern Nevada. Dave still gets out and shovels snow, not only our own property, but the neighbors, too. He's the most fit “86”-year -old we know!


He still volunteers as a grounds-worker at our community par-3 golf course. It keeps him active and gives him a chance to socialize. He had his cataracts removed last October and they were successful in helping to improve his distance sight. He can now see the mountains and colors again. Unfortunately, they were not able to help his nearer sight which is what is most affected by the advanced macular degeneration. 


My travel agent business has turned into a full-time job, but I love what I do and the fact that I can work from home. We took a cruise to Hawaii last December. This year in Oct, I'll be taking a group to Paris for a Seine River cruise that will give us a day at Normandy Landing, celebrating the 80th anniversary of D-Day. It will most definitely be a meaningful experience.


Our local emphasis and personal mission is to raise money to support the food pantry at our church. Dave and I coordinate a monthly series of six golf tournaments during the summer. This will be our 6th year of doing this and it has turned into a very successful event. We raise close to $20,000 each summer which sustains the Food Pantry for the year. It's incredibly rewarding to know that our efforts are helping to ensure that roughly 300 people receive a week's worth of food every Tuesday.

From Oscar Escalada: Mid-December I had a wonderful visit from Vaness Johnson and her daughter Victoria. Vaness was a volunteer at the Tijuana Y Home for Migrant Children 25+ years ago. She also worked with Bea Halk in the HR Department for a time. I was fortunate that Vaness was able to drive us to Bea’s home where we had a delightful visit with Bea and Gerry Martin. I continue to lead a men’s bible study group, and work on improving my strength and mobility by a rigorous physical therapy schedule.

From Lisa Betterton


I recently visited YMCA Camp Marston while staying at KQ Ranch outside of Julian. Once my husband Bob and I checked in at the office we were able to walk around and tour the camp.


It was fun sharing my childhood memories with him. For example, the summer when there were so many baby frogs at the edge of Lake Jessop. I found a hole, put my hand down inside and when I pulled my hand out of the hole there were about 15 baby frogs on my arm (good times). 


As we walked toward the Boathouse, we passed the Archery Range on the right side of the lake. I remember learning how to properly shoot an arrow. However, the children can now reach the archery range from the top of the hill by sliding down through a huge tube slide (not a traditional slide, something you would see on a construction site). 


I found the trail head to go to Raintree Ranch. Definitely one of my favorite experiences while attending camp. I told Bob that I had a horse named Big Mama. She was a tall white & brown horse with an unusual shaped backside (the top side was like a right angle). The kids teased and said that my horse ate a box causing the right angle.


Next, we took a walk to the Chapel. I was sad to see how the weather/years had disrupted the beauty it once provided us. This is where we sang songs and listened to an inspirational message based on the YMCA core values. 


As we walked back toward our car, we passed the Mess Hall. What a beautiful transformation from when I attended camp. Still, fond memories singing Johnny Appleseed before meals and being chosen to be our “table runner.” 


I very much enjoyed going down memory lane and sharing great times at camp with my husband. I will definitely plan another visit, and include my mom, and siblings. 

From Gerry Martin: Gerry enjoyed a week-long visit from her grandchildren Cooper and Bryn. The week was filled with outings as well as time “catching-up” and playing board games with Gerry, affectionally called "YaYa." Some of their favorites field trips and activities were walks on the beach, milkshakes at Hodads, shopping at a flee market in Ocean Beach and visiting the Museum of Music. However, enjoying Mexican food at numerous restaurants topped the list. Their week-long visit ended too quickly as they returned to their respective colleges, Cooper to Oregon and Bryn to Montana.

From Nancy Dortch: Yay for retirement! I'm now able to spend more time doing two of my most favorite things. Golf and reading! Give me a good book and I can spend hours reading every day. I golf two to three days a week and love the challenge of golf, the lasting friendships I've made and it's a fun way to exercise! What could be better than that? Hope to see you at the April event!

From Rick Reiman: Last summer I had the privilege of traveling and serving on a short-term mission’s trip to Peru with Su Refugio Ministries. The 8-day excursion was impactful and very productive as we visited 7 Su Refugio Child Care Centers along the Amazon River. Our time was spent cooking and serving meals, supplying footwear, offering eye glasses to youth and adults, plus conducting a children’s Bible Study program. In the barrio of Carabayllo, we visited with a widowed shoemaker. He had lost his wife during COVID, struggled to jump start a new business, but was an inspiration to us as His faith in God was not shaken. 


 We also had the privilege for providing new shoes to 100 Peruvian children. These courageous Peruvian people gave me a better understanding despite our language, culture and even religious differences, that at the core of all humans, we are fundamentally the same. We are created and loved by God and in Him we trust our todays and tomorrows. My take-home from this trip was that life is to be lived in the moments - make everyone count.

Fishermen found in Virgin Islands (Bill and Sam);

Nancy and Bill Parkhurst say, "We've moved."

YMCA Travel Club

Adventures at a glance

April 21-May 5, 2024: Atlantic Crossing to Italy

Sept. 27-Aug. 4, 2024: America's Music Cities

Jan. 26-Feb. 2, 2025: Alumni Reunion-at-Sea Cruise

June 17-July 3, 2025: Land of the Midnight Sun & Summer Solstice Cruise

Sept. 14-24, 2025: Majestic Canadian Rockies

Scottish Dream (Aug. 2-9, 2024) is sold out.

Travel Club

Marston Chapter Leaders

President: Jeanne Schmelzer

Vice President: Steve Rowe

Secretary: Steve Totten

TreasurerSam Wurtzbacher

World Service Chair: Rick Riehman

Program Coordinators: Debby Lenz and Bea Halk

Newsletter Coordinator: Cheri Choy

Honorary Member: Bea Halk YMCA Hall of Fame

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The mission of YMCA Alumni is "to enable members to promote a nurturing worldwide Christian Fellowship that provides educational, social, service and charitable opportunities."

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