This month, the Youth Bureau is celebrating a major staff milestone. Yolanda has worked for the YB for 20 years! All 20 of those years were spent enriching young lives in the Recreation Department. If your child has participated in a YB Rec program before, chances are Yolanda coordinated it. When you look at all the Rec programs offered, it’s easier to list the ones Yolanda hasn’t coordinated (Cross Country, Lacrosse, Football, and Track), as opposed to what she has (all the others!).
Yolanda came to the YB with experience in lifeguarding, swim instruction, and overall pool supervision. Yolanda was inspired by one of her college professors who taught in area of recreation. She thought her aquatic experience would tie into the recreation world well. She jumped in (pun intended) and never looked back.
After 20 years, Yolanda has countless memories of recreation participants expanding their skills, trying new things, and becoming more independent. One particular memory she shares is of a shy young person who attended an Expressive Arts program. The boy’s mother let Yolanda know that he was nervous to attend the program and Yolanda made sure to greet him when he checked in and made him feel warm and welcome. After that, each time he saw her, regardless of where in the room she was, he would yell her name to say hi. The boy’s mother later told Yolanda that her interactions to make him feel safe and comfortable in his new environment helped him come out of his shell. Even when seasonal staff would change at programs, the young boy was eager to attend programs knowing Yolanda was there behind the scenes to make sure the program went well.
Whether it’s helping a shy participant feel comfortable or encouraging an outgoing participant learn a new skill, knowing she helped facilitate that young person grow and develop is what brings Yolanda to work every day. “Recreation allows kids to grow in various ways while having fun,” Yolanda said.
Tompkins County families have come to expect high-quality programming from the Youth Bureau. Yolanda brings a wealth of knowledge and tradition from 20 years of employment, but she also stays on top of the latest news and trends in recreation as well as software and technology for registration and promotion.
Not everyone knows all the offerings that the Recreation Department and the Youth Bureau in general offer, but Yolanda has been involved in several - both as a staff coordinator and as a parent.
“The impact and skills learned varies as much as the list of programs that we offer. If it is a team sport, then often it includes learning how to be a part of a team which may include learning how to be a leader within it. If it is more of an individualized program than I think participants gain confidence and a much better understanding of themselves.”
Congratulations on 20 years, Yolanda! We appreciate you!