Volunteers make the YMCA an asset to Selma, Dallas County

Published 11:06 pm Tuesday, July 22, 2014

By Ann Murray

A beautiful thick row of zinnias lines my driveway. Their colorful blooms dance with the breeze even in the scorching summer heat. They are happy, cheerful flowers.

But through the years I have learned another endearing quality of zinnias … left alone they will send up volunteers. Garden blog says, “A volunteer is a plant that grows on its own, rather than being deliberately planted by a farmer or gardener.

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Volunteers often grow from seeds that float in on the wind, are dropped by birds, or are inadvertently mixed into compost. Unlike weeds, which are unwanted plants, a volunteer may be encouraged by gardeners once it appears, being watered, fertilized, or otherwise cared for.”

Now there is an image for you! At the YMCA of Selma-Dallas County we have just that kind of volunteer.  A person who shows up in my office and offers to help asking nothing in return.  Sometimes they float in with the wind, or appear on the scene unexpectedly bringing with them skills, talents, and enthusiasm.  Like the gardener we water, and care for them.  And our volunteers might even say we fertilize them! This summer we have a very rich supply.

This afternoon Ashlyn Goodwin, a first year Selma High teacher came in full of ideas, offering to restart YMCA Leaders Club, an organization that gave her “lifelong friends”.  In September city wide middle school and high school students will meet at the Y with a mind to give back earning hours for resumes, community service, and just to help.

Harrison Adams, Morgan Academy quarterback, checked in early this spring offering to help the Y in seasons when he’s not playing sports.

Faithful to show up every Tuesday afternoon, Harrison tutors and plays foosball in the Youth Room. As you can imagine, the kids adore him! Calvin Oslund is coming behind Harrison to get to know the kids so he can help out when football season starts.

Christian Thies, a student at the Alabama School of the Blind in Talledega, gave the Y six weeks of his summer, helping in us in Day Camp and maintaining our facility tirelessly emptying trash, mopping floors, and raising and lowering the flag.

Jorgi Massey is affectionately called Coach Jorgi by 12 youngsters on the Y’s fledgling swim team. She marches up and down the pool deck guiding and encouraging. She swam competitively in Maryland and Tallahassee and knows the benefits of discipline in a competitive environment.  Jorgi’s assistant coaches, Coach Caleb McDougal and Coach Patrick Haskell are role models for the younger children setting high standards of character and determination.

JC Towns popped in one day and offered to shoot pictures for the Y.  We’re planning shots for the website, Facebook, and community events to get the word and images out about all the buzz that is the YMCA.

John Brandon Solomon and Curtis Wimberly have been “on loan” from Coach Reese this summer because Dinkins pool was out of commission.  Our pools are slam packed and we appreciate their watchful eye.

Ashley Gaskins, an ex-marine starts a new session of swim lessons for kids and adults next week, but with his certifications and experience the possibilities of his serving at the Y are endless. By the way, his wife Tonya is a new YOGA instructor.

Norris Hendrieth has been brainstorming marketing and membership with me. He thinks creatively offering suggestions for membership packages that are affordable for all.

And the last of a long list of volunteers…Scott and Lynn Haskell have taken the Aquatics Department by storm. She teaches a rocking night swim water aerobics with jiving music.

He, a retired naval rescue swimmer, teaches swim lessons, repairs old pool vacuum equipment, and helping us write a new operations manual. Lynn and Scott insist that they want to give back to the community.

That is the heart of a volunteer.  Giving.