By SHERIDAN ROY
The Southington Community YMCA has welcomed a new branch executive director, Jay Jaronko, although he is no stranger to the facility, nor the town.
Jaronko grew up in Southington before moving to Newtown, where he currently resides. From 2004 to 2013, he worked in various positions within the Southington YMCA and YMCA Camp Sloper. He began as a camp staff member at Camp Sloper, went on to become the youth program director in 2007, and spent time as the outdoor center program director at Camp Sloper form 2011 to 2013.
“I’m very happy to be back in Southington,” said Jaronko. “I’m very aware that the YMCA is doing incredible things in town. Right now, my short term goal is to reintroduce myself back into the community, and then, I’d really like to learn what the issues that are affecting the town are.”
The new director said once the needs of the town become apparent, the YMCA can look at ways to be involved either directly by offering programming, or indirectly by offering support to other groups.
“Our relationship to the community is important for a number of reasons. We are a community service organization, and we’re here to provide services for people in a lot of different areas, and to encourage people, give people the opportunity to be more socially responsible, to connect with other people in the community, to have a little more empathy for people, and to support people,” he said. “That’s what the YMCA was meant to do. Our purpose to exist is to strengthen the foundation in the community.”
Though last week was Jaronko’s first week on the job, he has made a point to introduce himself to staff and YMCA members, and familiarize himself with upcoming events, ongoing programs and initiatives, and the building itself.
“In a lot of ways, it’s the same as when I left six years ago, but in others, it’s very different,” he said, noting the growth of programs like the Southington Town-wide Effort to Promote Success and the YMCA’s nursery school.
Some of the positions within administration had recently seen some restructuring, as well. Jaronko’s position is a revised operations director position, where he will oversee program and membership responsibilities for the Southington location, as well as: the gymnastics center; learning center; sports performance center; spirit, mind and body center’ and the after school locations.
The former operations director position oversaw Camp Sloper staff, along with all of the marketing and maintenance for all three locations (Cheshire YMCA, Southington YMCA and Camp Sloper). The position now, under the role of Kevin Simms, covers all of the association responsibilities including marketing, facilities, and information technology.
“I think coming into this position, it wasn’t something I was working towards, but it was something that I was hoping would be a possibility down the line to come back here,” said Jaronko. “When the position did become available, I thought, ‘Well, I think I’m ready for that kind of step in my career,’ and to be able to take that next step in a place that I love and really care about seemed to be a perfect opportunity to match my professional life with my personal life.”
Jaronko hopes to settle in to his new position and continue work he has already begun diving into, such as attending community meetings and events, pursuing YMCA goals, meeting the needs of the town, and being a form of support and encouragement for members.
To learn more about the Southington YMCA, visit www.sccymca.org.