YMCA honors volunteers _lowres

Photo provided by Eye Wander Photo -- Gathering at the recent YMCA of the Capital Area's annual meeting, from left, are Mike Walker, Gwen Hamilton, Bob Jacobs, Isha Matta and Zefferino VonKurnatowski.

More than 250 guests attended the YMCA of the Capital Area’s Annual Meeting, which recognized volunteers, donors and partners who helped advance the Y’s cause to strengthen the foundation of the community.

The event was May 12 at Crowne Plaza in Baton Rouge.

During the program, three YMCA volunteers received special recognition for their service to the program.

Mike Walker received the Myron Falk Fundraising Award, which is given in honor of Myron Falk, who believed that everyone should give to help nonprofits, even if it was just one dollar, a news release said. Walker helped raise $50,000 for the YMCA Annual Support Campaign, a scholarship program that enables the Y to provide programs and services to those in need.

Zefferino VonKurnatowski received the Edward D. Grant Volunteerism Award. The award is given in honor of Edward D. Grant, a former metropolitan board chairman as well as a recognized leader of volunteer service in the community. VonKurnatowski partnered with the Y to provide Biggz Kidz Urban Forest Program, which teaches children the important role trees play in the economy and the ecosystem. Classes are offered at several YMCA locations.

Isha Matta received the Red Heart Award, which recognizes community members who leave a lasting impact on their community through their service to others. Matta has served as a volunteer for the YMCA Youth and Government Program for eight years, where she leads, trains and mentors the teens in the program. Each year she takes the students to the National Youth and Government Conference. In 2014, she spent more than 360 hours volunteering for the program.

Each YMCA location honored a Volunteers of the Year. Winners included Byron Townsend, A.C. Lewis YMCA; Patrick Tate, Americana YMCA; Whitney Cooper, Baranco Clark YMCA; Rodney Mallet, C.B. Pennington Jr. YMCA; Derek Fitch, Charles W. Lamar Jr. YMCA; Dave Steiner, Dow Westside YMCA; Kenney Ricard, ExxonMobil YMCA; Ben Cherbonnier, Paula G. Manship YMCA and John “Bud” Traylor, Southside YMCA.

The YMCA also celebrated the positive impact made through programs and services reaching 45,677 youth through YMCA sports, childcare, teen programs and swimming lessons. The Y also provided outreach to 10,254 people in the community. The Y’s Annual Community Support Campaign provided 6,772 scholarships, totaling $565,411, for YMCA programs and services.

Overall, members visited the YMCA 937,312 times throughout the year and 1,885 volunteers gave 13,427 hours of service at area YMCA locations.