Former YMCA presidents gather

Each agreed about the tough, but rewarding task of fundraising

The presidents take time out for a group shot.

Gather together a group of Marco movers and shakers who also happen to be past-presidents of the YMCA of South Collier (Marco Y), and there are bound to be some good stories told.

That was the whole idea when they were all recently invited to a special annual luncheon at the Y.

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A few good laughs, some reminiscing, and plenty of praise marked the get-together as CEO Cindy Love-Abounader asked each for a recap of their presidencies.

Almost all of the seven past-presidents who were able to make it, spoke about the challenging - but ultimately rewarding - task of fundraising, and Tiffany Homuth probably summed it up best: "It's a true story of perseverance over time," said Homuth, who described her term as fun and interesting, and indeed challenging because building upgrades were at the forefront during her term.

The group of former presidents chats around the informal luncheon table.

"The success is that we're sitting in it (the newish Youth Development Center) today," she said.

Lori Curran, speaking on behalf of her late husband and ex-Y president Jim, raised chuckles when she said his biggest challenge had been her.

Carl Titgemeier said he'd made a lifelong friendship with Jim Curran when they met through the Y. Curran, he recounted, was at the forefront of the drive to convert the original tennis courts from asphalt to clay.

"He was involved in almost everything," Titgemeier said. "He pushed for money with 50-50 (raffles) and dances. He just wouldn't give up."

Special guest Lori Curran represented her late husband and ex-president, Jim.

Linda Keutmann, whose term was around the late 90s/early 2000s, also spoke about the push for fundraising to renovate the original building.

"Cindy and I did a lot together," Keutmann said, "even though at the time somebody told us we wouldn't make it."

T.J.Boone, a more recent president, said he enjoyed helping the Y advance its technology to move with the times.

"I was surrounded with astute, professional people," Boone said.

Paul Tateo said the Youth Development Center was well under way during his term, and in particular praised Love-Abounader for her determination and perseverance.

Craig Woodward remembered that the original Y building (around his tenure in the mid-90s) had rooms that couldn't be utilized and equipped due to lack of funds.

Pat Neale remembered that period all too well. The decision at the time, he said, was to make the Y look more substantial by equipping front rooms and offices with available money.

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Marya Visser-Hedrick said during her term in the early ‘90s, the organizational side of the Y was not at all in good shape.

"It was virtually falling apart," Visser-Hedrick said. "Basically, Pat Neale and myself were left."

They, along with former Y supporter Ernie Bretzmann, buckled down to raising money, and the result of their efforts eventually turned out to be the well-used pool, still one of the Y's center points today.

Past and current president Ashley Lupo recalled that the country was just coming out of the 2008 recession during one of her presidencies.

"We were trying to serve a community that needed our services," she said, referring to the Y's generous outreach services to poorer areas in East Naples.

"The community needs are still there," Lupo said, adding that older folk on Marco are one of the organization's priorities.

"They may not play tennis or swim," she said, "so we did something for them (through senior luncheons)  when they can socialize on an intellectual level."

Lupo said fundraising for adding nine regulation pickle ball courts (at $500,000) to the campus is well underway.

Naming rights for the complex itself, as well as the courts and shaded social areas included in the plan, can be secured by contacting the Y.

For more on the Y's wide variety of programs and activities for adults and children, visit or call 394-YMCA (9622). Follow on Twitter at ymcamarco; on Facebook @marcoymca, and Instagram at ymcamarco.