YMCA hosts picnic to celebrate Hall of Fame volunteers

Published on Friday, 7 July 2017 20:14


SOUTHINGTON – The Southington-Cheshire Community YMCA is giving thanks to its volunteers and donors July 19 with a barbecue picnic at Camp Sloper.

The picnic, which is open to friends and families of all Southington-Cheshire YMCA volunteers, donors and alumni, will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the camp at 1000 East St. Donors and volunteers will have the opportunity to speak with YMCA staff one on one in a casual environment.

“Camp staff will be on the grill cooking, and Mark Pooler will thank the volunteers and donors for their support,” said Shannon Eterginio, community development director. “This is our way of recognizing everybody for all they do for us.”

Additionally, The Conlon Family, Kate Gorman, Jay Miller and Christina Simms will be inducted into the YMCA Camp Sloper Hall of Fame.

“This is always one of my favorite nights of the year,” said Mark Pooler, director of operations at YMCA Camp Sloper. “We get a chance to reconnect and honor some of our camp legends that have made a huge impact on the facility. All of the 2017 recipients are great choices and we are thrilled to have them as part of the Sloper Hall of Fame.”

The Conlon Family, which includes Chris and Laura Conlon, the owner’s of the Smokin’ with Chris Restaurant in town, have been longtime supporters of the Southington Y and Camp Sloper. Each year, they open their restaurant’s doors and donate all of the food for the Y’s annual Sloper Charity Night fundraiser, which raises money for camp scholarships. Chris and Laura’s children, Jeremy, Dori, Atla and Dylan, all worked at YMCA Camp Sloper during the late ‘90s and 2000s.

“While each of the Conlon kids have unique personalities and strengths, the one thing they all share is their passion to help children,” said Pooler. “We have been so lucky to have each of them work at YMCA Camp Sloper and are truly a better place because of the time they spent at camp.”

Gorman was a staff member in the mid-1990s and according to Pooler has made a lasting impression many staff and campers. In 1994, Gorman was named YMCA Camp Sloper “Rookie of the Year” “largely due to her amazing and fun-loving personality.” Pooler said that she then continued on as a counselor and became one of the camp’s best-known Pioneer Directors. Gorman also helped the camp “recruit amazing talent, which changed the dynamics, culture and caliber of the people who were hired moving forward.”

“Kate’s ability to build relationships with staff and campers was second to none,” said Pooler. “Her magnetic personality made it easy for kids and staff members to want to be with her at the camp.”

Miller was a YMCA Camp Sloper staff member in 1998 when he won the “Rookie of the Year” award, and he continued on as a staff member for a decade. Miller served multiple roles including, counselor, Ropes Director, Voyager Director, East Coast Director, and most notably, as the camp’s second Outdoor Center Program Director.

“Jay was instrumental in building the foundation of many year-round programs,” said Pooler. “Furthermore, he was instrumental in building up the camp’s off-season programming, which in turn became a key marketing tool for summer day camp. Under Jay’s direction, off-season programs flourished, which had a direct impact on our day camp enrollment.”

Simms, Pooler said, is an “unforgettable” staff member for YMCA Camp Sloper and was on staff for just under 10 years (from 1997 to 2006). She held multiple positions, including Camp Counselor, Pioneer Director and West Coast Director, to name a few. Pooler said that she had a “measurable impact” on thousands of campers and staff members. Simms was named “Counselor of the Year” in 1997, and she is also one of only two people to have won the title of “Director of the Year” - twice, in 2000 and 2001.

“Christina’s passion for working with youth and teens started at camp but holds true today,” said Pooler. “She later went on to hold several professional roles at the Southington YMCA and is currently the Director of Youth Services for the Town of Southington.”

The YMCA Camp Sloper Hall of Fame was created in 2005 as a way to recognize and reward former camp staff and volunteers who have helped the camp evolve to what it is today.

“Remembering those who have paved the way for our present and future generations at camp is very important to us at the YMCA,” said Pooler. “The Sloper Hall of Fame is a nice way to honor those who have made a lasting impact on the program, facility and people who have enjoyed this special place for many years. And, of course, none of this would be possible without the amazing generosity of Cornella Sloper Neal who donated the property to our YMCA in 1949.”

Those who wish to attend the picnic and Hall of Fame Induction ceremony are encouraged to RSVP with Eterginio by calling her at 860-426-9510 or emailing her at seterginio@sccymca.org.

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or bjohnson@bristolpress.com.

Posted in New Britain Herald, General News, Southington Herald on Friday, 7 July 2017 20:14. Updated: Friday, 7 July 2017 20:16.