The Innisfil YMCA recently invited the community to its annual pancake breakfast in celebration of its 15th anniversary.
Nearly 200 people, including families with young children, friends, members of the South Simcoe Police Service and local dignitaries among them, attended the event.
Jackie Smith frequents the Innisfil YMCA five or six days a week. When asked how long she’s been a member, she replied: “Since I came here 13 years ago. The first thing I did was join the library and the Y.”
YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka cleaning and maintenance co-ordinator Courtney Lander said preparation for the day began in early October.
“The Y’s staff and volunteers have come together to make sure that every person who walks through our doors is welcomed with a smile, gets a good breakfast, and has some fun. Our youth leaders ... are instrumental in making and serving the food (and) drinks, setting up the crafts, and helping with set-up and take-down,” she said.
When asked to reflect on her favourite milestones, Lander said, “My favourite moments are the ones that happen unplanned and on the spur of the moment — to me, those are the occasions that make the Innisfil YMCA such an important and integral part of our community’s fabric.”
“I love to see someone’s face light up when you remember their name, or hearing, 'I’ve learned so much from you’ up on the conditioning room floor. Our breakfast is a small way those of us who work at the Innisfil YMCA can show our gratitude to the community in a fun and different way,” she said.
Cynthya Dahan, Innisfil YMCA manager, credited community partners such as the Town of Innisfil, Innisfil Rotary Club, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, Rizzardo Health and Wellness Centre and Kempenfelt Bay School for helping make the facility a success.
She noted the YMCA is a key participant in the town's Winter Weekends, and has been running community programs such as pickleball, swimming and $2 walking track times.
“In addition, the YMCA has played a significant role in Innisfil by providing co-op program placements for Nantyr (Shores Secondary) School students, fostering the growth and development of the youth in the region,” Dahan said. “The Y’s commitment to wellness is evident through its Heartwise certification which underscores the dedication to the well-being of members.
"The Innisfil YMCA has also been a proud recipient of a Government of Ontario grant for the Silver Club, demonstrating a continuous effort to support seniors in the community with a weekly social gathering," she added.
Deborah O’Neill said she has made many friends by joining the Silver Club at the Barrie and Innisfil branches since she retired a couple of years ago.
“I’m so happy that I retired in Innisfil. There’s so much to do and I met so many amazing people at the Y,” she said. “I will never leave because of how amazing it is to retire in Innisfil.”
But more is coming, Dahan said.
“Looking ahead to 2024, the YMCA is excited to be part of the Y Canada youth exchange, which will enrich the experiences of its youth leaders program participants ... it's a time to reflect on the Innisfil YMCA's remarkable journey, the invaluable support of the community partners, and the countless lives that have been positively impacted throughout its history,” she said.