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Award Winners

Board members, staff, and supporters gathered at the Warren Conference Center last week to celebrate individuals, businesses, and community organizations that have positively impacted the lives of thousands of people living in the area through their work with the MetroWest YMCA.

Mathworks was honored with the Community Champion Award, which recognizes a business or organization that has partnered with the Y to positively impact children and families in the MetroWest community through philanthropic and volunteer support.

For almost a decade, MathWorks has collaborated with the MetroWest YMCA. Representatives have served on the Y's Board of Directors, and MathWorks has supported our Y's annual campaign and STEM programs. In addition, hundreds of MathWorks team members have volunteered at our Outdoor Center each year.  Their efforts resulted in the creation of a Teaching Garden, where children grow vegetables to use in our cooking classes, and their collective donation of thousands of volunteer hours has helped us prepare our properties for camp each summer. 

In 2019, a MathWorks donation made the Y's cricket pitch at the Hopkinton Outdoor Center possible, and they played an important role in the feasibility study for a new Regional Y. In that spirit, MathWorks made the lead gift of $2,500,000 to kick off the capital campaign to support a new full-service YMCA serving Ashland, Hopkinton, Holliston, Sherborn, and Framingham.

"We are grateful to be able to partner with such a forward-thinking, community-minded corporate citizen, and we know that together, we will continue to impact tens of thousands of children and families for generations to come," said Rick MacPherson, President and CEO of the MetroWest YMCA.

The Community Partner Award honors the valuable partnerships between the MetroWest YMCA and its neighbors while celebrating the collaborative efforts that successfully tackle our community's evolving needs and advance the public good.

State Representative David Linsky joined Y staff in honoring the Town of Natick and Natick Public Schools for their collaboration with the MetroWest YMCA in a variety of areas.  The Schools and Town Administration were instrumental in working hand in hand with the Y to meet the community’s need for Before and After School Care for school-age children.  Working together, they helped address space, transportation, and communication challenges while providing a positive and impactful experience for children and their parents. Today, Natick youth grades K-6 have a safe place to learn and grow with nurturing YMCA educators who believe in their potential.

In addition, The Town’s Senior Center has partnered with the Y to offer important health wellness programs for seniors while creating opportunities for socialization.  Finally, the Town’s work with the Y’s Project ABC has resulted in programming for hundreds of parents and their young children throughout the community.  For these reasons, the Y was honored to recognize this wonderful partnership.

The Volunteer of the Year Award is presented to a YMCA Volunteer who shares the Y's vision to strengthen the community and engages in the community to make that vision a reality.

This year's award goes to Elaine Marmer. Elaine has been volunteering at our Y for over 30 years! Years ago, she created our Water Walking Program, which she continues to lead today. Elaine makes everyone who joins her class feel welcomed and comfortable. She ensures everyone can meet their goals, whether they want to get healthier, transition to an aquatics-based exercise program, or regain their fitness after an injury or illness. 

Elaine also creates an environment in her classes that allows people to connect with each other and develop long-lasting friendships. We know that people who achieve their goals, make friends, and create a sense of belonging will be more successful in improving and maintaining a healthy spirit, mind, and body. This is the community that Elaine creates year after year, and we are so grateful.

The MetroWest YMCA and Ys nationwide are committed to developing a new generation of changemakers. In this spirit, the Changemaker Award recognizes a teen or young adult who has gone above and beyond in service to the Y and the community. This year's Changemaker Awards went to Joash Ssejemba and Alondra Rivera.

Alondra Rivera began as an afternoon assistant in the Early Learning Center and worked to become an assistant teacher, who helps in every classroom. She has also helped with the School's Out before and after-school program. By all accounts, she is a reliable, hardworking, kind, and caring team player. 

"She always comes in with positive energy and is consistently wonderful with the children. I am SO beyond impressed with her," says Laina Abolfazli, Director of Inclusion.

Joash Ssejemba is an alumnus of the Y's Changemaker Academy, a workforce development program for teens that teaches leadership skills. Joash interned in the Nutrition and Food Services Department during the program before accepting a permanent position. Joash is always professional, responsible, reliable, hardworking, and a team player. He runs the Changemaker café, serves free teen meals, and helps prep the hundreds of meals produced in the kitchen weekly. Joash has set himself apart through the role model he has become and his calm, positive influence on other youth and teens. 

Please join us in congratulating these fine people and organizations that make our community a better place to live, work, and play.