Kudos for contributions: Volunteers honored at YMCA reception

Special to the Eagle

Most Marco volunteers tend to shy away from public kudos. It’s sort of in their nature.

But each year around this time, the Greater Marco Family YMCA puts down its (grateful) foot and says “come right over here to be thanked” to its volunteers.

And, indeed publicly.

Volunteers, in the words of the Y’s Youth Development Manager Stephanie Pepper are “simply critical” to the success of programs.

Board members who enjoyed the reception are Chuck Thomas, Fritzi Holmes, Allyson Richards and Jayme Lowe.

“This includes special events (such as the annual golf tourney; the Mutts ‘n Martinis fundraiser and the Taste of Marco), as well as summer camps, the Y Reads program and all the sports and wellness programs,” Pepper said.

At a recent reception at the Y’s Youth Development Center, blanket thanks went out to all the volunteers, with a few singled out for “above and beyond” contributions over the past year.

They were John Ritchie (Volunteer of the Year); Catherine “Kay” Dorrell (youth development); Frank Ryan (Y Reads); Bob Chrystal (membership); Anthony DeLucia (also known as Steve Reynolds, for his volleyball tourney efforts), Charlie Erker (rock steady boxing), and staffer and executive assistant to CEO Cindy Love, Mara Madera (staff member of the year).

Ritchie, a long-time Y member and volunteer, gave a typical response to being named Volunteer of the Year.

Greater Marco Family YMCA Volunteer of the Year John Ritchie is introduced by Fritzi Holmes, herself a prolific Y volunteer.

“I know a lot of other people it could have gone to,” he said afterwards. “It was nice to get it, but I think there are a lot of other people who volunteer more than I do.”

Pepper described Ritchie as “absolutely amazing” for his efforts with youth development activities, tennis, community relations, photographing myriad events, driving the parade float and, more recently, this past weekend’s Taste of Marco at the Esplanade.

He became enamored with volunteering about 10 years ago after Youth Development Manager Pepper told him about the Y’s summer afterschool outreach programs at East Naples schools.

The Y’s Sports & Wellness Director Lee Pinkham, left, is seen with volunteer Anthony DeLucia (also known on the island as Steve Reynolds).

“She said many of the kids wouldn’t hear a word of English during the summer and would get behind in their learning,” Ritchie said. “So I wrote a check for 10 kids to go to summer camp, and then began to volunteer for different things.”

Ritchie and his wife Elaine (who organized the Goodland Boat Parade for nearly three decades to benefit Avow hospice) spend a couple of months in New Jersey each summer.

Until recently, they ran a business doing computer programming for small airlines.

“We’re winding down a bit now,” Ritchie said, but I’ll continue volunteering.”

To become a volunteer, or to learn about the Y’s wide range of activities and programs for youth and adults, visit marcoymca.org (an app is available) or call 394-3144.