Commentary: Myers’ family reflects on their Southington journey

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Thirty seven and a half years or 11,562 days. It’s been a heck of a journey for the Myers family in Southington. Admittedly, it’s been pretty surreal these last few weeks knowing that retirement is official on Dec. 31.

Mere words cannot do justice to the heartfelt gratitude we have for our time in Southington.

In the school system, our children Jack and Catherine were guided and inspired by literally hundreds of teachers, administrators, club advisors and athletic coaches. We thank you. Our cup over floweth with the abundance of friends we met along the way. We thank you.

The many youth sports leagues in town provided our children with tons of opportunities to participate in sports, for the most part were not life or death  We were always impressed with the dedication of the parents and adults who have served as coaches and administrators. We thank you.

I have had the honor and privilege to serve with many civic and town organizations—chamber of commerce, United Way, Hartford HealthCare, juvenile review board, St. Paul’s housing board, down town renaissance committee, parking authority, Gura committee, library strategic planning committee, farm heritage committee. (I’m sure there were others) These were treasured opportunities to serve and be with incredible people just trying to make Southington ‘a little bit better. We thank you.

Special shout out to STEPS volunteers past and present. The movement is alive and the future is vibrant. Keep up the great work. We thank you.

More special shout outs to Activate Southington. The work in front of us is daunting but the rewards are long lasting. Keep the goal of trying to make Southington the healthiest community around. We thank you.

I have had the privilege to work side by side with literally hundreds of YMCA board members and volunteers, led by board presidents, Beth Smedick (twice), Joe Foti, Jim Smith, Susan Skarvinko, Paula Knight, Nancy Chiero, Terry Lombardi, Melissa Sheffy, Joe Eddy, and Dan Daigle. Lots of challenging times, lots of progress, lots of laughs and deepened friendships. We thank you.

It’s almost impossible to quantify or qualify the generosity of our community. I always been amazed of how the community steps forward to support our YMCA (as well as countless other organizations in town).  Our success in our annual support campaigns, special events and ambitious capital campaigns comes from this amazing outpouring of support. We thank you.

Of note, what a great vote of confidence it is when you get support from local foundations like the Calvanese Foundation, the DePaolo Family Foundation, the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain, and the Main Street Foundation. We thank you.

Ten years ago a bunch of us came up with a crazy idea to take over the Aqua Turf with a health fair. A tip of the hat to my friends and colleagues at the Hartford HealthCare Senior Services for keeping the Healthy Family Fun alive and relevant. We thank you.

We were thrilled to be part of a community that embraces running for all ages. Being associated with the Apple Harvest Festival Road Races has been a blast and a chance to meet and become friends with the legendary Bill Rodgers. We thank you.

Over the years, you learn how important it is to have fox-hole people in your lives. I am blessed to be surrounded by a whole of them at the YMCA. The first fox-hole group who I will always be indebted to after the Triathlon accident in 1995—Joe Eddy, Steve Powers, Beth Smedick, Donna Ayer and Mark Pooler. We thank you.

Not bragging, but I have had the privilege to work with the best staff at the Y. What a joy it is to witness their skills, passion, compassion, and relentless efforts to help each person reach their greatest potential. We have been through it all from celebrations to supporting each other in need. We thank you.

Camp people are a unique breed. Being part of the camp family has been life changing. You’ll always be in our hearts. We thank you.

My humble YMCA career began at the Berlin-Kensington YMCA, a branch of the New Britain-Berlin YMCA. That’s where I got the bug. What fond and fun memories. TSAVO.

From the Berlin-Kensington YMCA, I ventured eight miles down the road to Southington where Bill Skinner and Doug McLeod took a chance on a young kid. Wow, what a game changer. We thank you.

Another nine miles south down Route 10 are our staff and volunteers at our Cheshire Community YMCA who are doing tremendous and impactful work reaching thousands of people each year. Your opportunities are limitless. We thank you.

Some of these staff members have come from other countries as they have become part of our YMCA Camp Sloper family. Because of these relationships, our world has become a little smaller and more understanding. We thank you.

37 years in the “Y business” has meant that I have cross paths with YMCA professionals from all across the country. The YMCA movement is alive and well. We thank you.

My life as well as countless others was changed on Dec. 14, 2012 with the horrific events at Sandy Hook. The Kowalski family sought to turn tragedy into triumph and show through their son Chase that your life is measured through love and kindness. Forever grateful. We thank you.

When I first started at the YMCA, I never imagine the importance and impact of our local and state legislators. While we may not have agreed on everything, it was always comforting to know you were always there to hear about our initiatives and to ‘listen’ to the impact potential legislation could have on our YMCA and our community. We thank you.

With so much going on at the YMCA and the YMCA being so much more than a “gym and swim” place, it was reassuring knowing the local press was there to cover our stories and our impact. To the Observer, we thank you.

We’re hoping that our paths continue to cross. In the meantime, a quote from my mom: “follow your dreams and enjoy the trip.”

John Myers was the executive director at the Southington YMCA until his retirement on Dec. 31.

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