Hello Fargo-Moorhead!

Welcome to my YMCA blog. I enjoy writing this blog every few weeks to let you know about the things that are going on at the YMCA and the stories that make our YMCA family so great.

First, I’d like to tell you a little bit about me. I started my YMCA career in Seattle in the early 90s as an aquatics professional. I still love teaching kids to swim. The life skills that kids learn through this program, and many others like it in the YMCA movement, are important and ones that will follow them throughout their lives. I should know, I started taking swimming lessons as a three year old at my local YMCA and have never looked back. Since then, I have worked for the Milwaukee YMCA in various positions and for the last eight years as the CEO of the Manitowoc – Two Rivers YMCA in Manitowoc, WI. It was a great job with a lot of community connections. We were just wrapping up a $4,000,000 capital campaign and facility planning project as I left and I look forward to returning to see what they do.

I have been on the job for a week. I don’t know how many times you might have changed jobs or how recently you have done so, but it is a whirlwind. You are learning new systems, new jargon, new names, new faces that you should remember their names, and honestly, where to park your car. Oh, and don’t forget the keys. They always hand you a stack of keys and you are lucky to remember what opens your office door.

One thing is clear, do I have big shoes to fill or what! Paul Finstad has done a great job for the       last 25 years helping move this YMCA forward in so many ways. Child care and membership are strong. The facilities are well maintained and additions have been made. I was able to tour our resident camp, Camp Cormorant, last week and there are neat things going on out there, too, that most members don’t see. Paul has led this YMCA as a true leader and it shows.

Paul and I have been meeting often and have been participating in community visits to help introduce me to some key leaders. In each of them I say that I have big shoes to fill. In each of them, Paul says that I have big feet. There will be a lot of learning going on for months to come.

I know that I have a lot to learn about the F-M community (you should all be proud that I know what F-M stands for!). I know that there are many things that our YMCA can do in the community and many that we don’t know about. I know that the legacy that Paul has left will be one to continue.

I also know that the shoes I fill come with some wear and a thick tread. I will wear them proudly!

See you at the Y!

Steve Smith, President