Gather 'Round: YMCA Annual Meeting

On May 3rd, 2018, the YMCA of Austin celebrated 65 years as an organization at its annual celebration dinner, Gather ‘Round.

YMCA board members, staff, volunteers, and community partners gathered at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. It was an unforgettable evening celebrating the important work of the YMCA in the greater Austin community, recognizing outstanding members of the Y family, and honoring the life and service of longtime YMCA advocate, Jeff Bomer.

Gather ‘Round was hosted by Sara Hickman, Official State Musician of Texas, and Bob Digneo, longtime YMCA of Austin board member.

Guests enjoyed cocktails, appetizers, dinner, and dessert from Rosemary’s Catering. Museum exhibits were open for guests to explore.

A beautiful art exhibit featured photos and stories of YMCA of Austin members. The exhibit will travel to YMCA branches throughout the year. Photography was provided by George Brainard Photography and designed/built by YMCA Art Director, John Bosco.

Special guests of the evening included Ross Moody of the Moody Foundation; Ann Cox Bomer and Theresa Garza and Family (Family of the late Jeff Bomer and Gather ‘Round Honoree); The Olson Family (Family of the late Gerald T. Olson, longtime YMCA board member and eponym of the Gerald T. Olson Distinguished Service Award); Larry Smith, previous YMCA of Austin CEO; and Dr. Eric Wright, Superintendent of Hays Consolidated ISD.

The evening began with a recap of the amazing work done by the YMCA of Austin in 2017.

The YMCA of Austin served 160,000 people in 2017 through:

13,509 children in youth development programs

$2.6 million given in financial assistance

16,633 children in youth sports, dance, and gymnastics

11,732 children in swim lessons, SwimATX, and Project Safe

7,392 middle school and high school students in Texas Youth & Government

25,000 meals served in year-round and summer youth programs

431 people in Diabetes Prevention programs, LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, and Healthy Living programs

164 children in Special Needs Adaptive programs and Camp in Motion

7,391 people in Camp Moody programs, special events, and camps

YMCA of Austin member Meagan Brown spoke on the impact of the YMCA on her family. The Brown family have three children all of whom are involved in YMCA programs. Their eldest child Elias participates in wheelchair basketball at the TownLake YMCA and their daughter Tessa learned to swim at the Hays Communities YMCA. They attribute so much of their children’s growth including Tessa’s confidence and core strength/balance to the YMCA. The Brown Families story is just one of many incredible things that happen at the YMCA every day. A huge thank you goes to the Brown Family for sharing their story.

Every year, the YMCA of Austin gives awards to members, philanthropists, young leaders, volunteers, and community partner organizations in recognition of the hard work and dedication each brings to the Y mission. This year’s award winners are:

Emerging Leader of the Year: Jordan Clements

Jordan has served as Junior Youth and Government Secretary of State and Youth and Government Lieutenant Governor.  He achieved these offices by exhibiting outstanding leadership qualities at his school, in his community, and with his peers. Jordan has grown into someone that is looked up to and highly respected.

Program Volunteer of the Year: Seth Willenberg

Seth has made a huge impact on youth in the Bastrop community. While coaching his soccer teams Seth’s focus is not only skill development, but character development as well. You know you have a great volunteer when the sports teams they coach are at max capacity every season.

Philanthropists of the Year: Bert West and Linda Watkins

As the largest contributors to the Northwest Family YMCA over the past 5 years, Bert and Linda’s philanthropy has helped hundreds of kids and families to participate in Y programs that otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity. They are proud that we serve all and that we love everyone who comes through our doors. Their heart and souls are here. They share their time, talent and treasures with us.

Member of the Year: Roland Mason

Upon moving to Austin in 2010, Roland was without a home and the Northwest Family YMCA gave him a 3-month membership. He was really looking for a place to belong and started out on the Membership-for-All Program. Today Roland gives back by supporting the Y in so many ways and tells everyone he knows that the Y is here to serve all. Roland believes in building a true community at the YMCA, using his time to come in and meet people and make friends over a cup of coffee or playing basketball with other Y members. He also gives back to the entire community through a sober/recovery house that he operates in San Antonio.

Member of the Year: Shannon Bieberdorf

Shannon has been a TownLake member for seven years. She helped us formalize a volunteer program that included onboarding and has led to 30 community partnerships and additional volunteer recruits for the board of directors. She is a tremendous advocate for Y and looks to spread the Y work outside the facility walls!

Community Partner of the Year: Hays Consolidated ISD

Hays CISD was the first school district to partner with the YMCA for the Project SAFE program, which to date has taught over 13,000 pre-K students and first graders swim skills to prevent drownings. Additionally we partner to provide afterschool and summer care for hundreds of Hays County students each day. Most recently, we’ve partnered to build the district swim complex at Camp Moody.

Gerald T. Olson Distinguished Service Award Winners

Daniel Hogberg

Daniel has a heart for those in our community that are battling cancer, which is one of the reasons he’s passionate about volunteering with the Y. LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, a 12-week physical activity program designed to get survivors back on their feet by focusing on the whole person and not the disease, continues to be a program he cares about deeply. Daniel Hogberg shows up at the YMCA as a committed volunteer and donor for people like our LIVESTRONG at the Y participants and all those whose lives are forever changed because of our work. From the start of his time as a member and board volunteer, Daniel’s shown an understanding of the importance, value, and urgency to serve those in our community. For the last three years, he’s been highly involved with our Annual Giving Campaign, serving as chair the past two years. With Daniel in the mix, the staff and volunteers report having more fun, more productivity and higher involvement for fundraising and events. He has a passion for serving those battling cancer, the homeless, and individuals and families going through challenges. Daniel exemplifies distinguished service.

“I am extremely proud to be a part of the Austin YMCA and amazed at the daily commitment of staff and volunteers to ensure that no one is turned away. I am thankful of the role that Y plays in the daily lives of my friends and family, and we are honored to further its mission of putting Christian principles into action.” –Daniel Hogberg

Tim Sinnott

If you’ve been paying any attention to the news, it’s clear that our next generation of leaders are paving the way to rise up and change the world. And we need them now more than ever. Our YMCA Youth and Government program is actively working to change the tides, rising up to mold our next generation of civic leaders. To do this work, it takes dedicated and passionate volunteers to serve as mentors, instructors and role models. One shining example is Tim Sinnott. As a Youth and Government alumnus, he has served in multiple leadership roles for district and state conference, and has helped accompany teens to the national conference. The amount of time that he has devoted to YG is immeasurable. He is a calming presence with a low yet strong voice and serves as an inspiration to others through his actions.

“Volunteering in any capacity with the YMCA is something I’ve always seen as an opportunity not only to further the greater cause, but to engage with the amazing people who work and volunteer with the organization throughout the community. I’m truly humbled and honored to receive this recognition among so many of those great people who make up this community and its mission.” –Tim Sinnott

Aaron Vollmer

As a key architect for the Southwest YMCA renovation in 2010, Aaron Vollmer saw beyond the simple walls and amenities and envisioned a built environment that fosters community, creating special spaces for people to gather and engage. Inspired by the work he helped to create, Aaron first came to the Y as a member then joined the SW Board of Managers, serving as Annual Giving Campaign chair for two years. He is the staff’s “go-to” volunteer for advice and counsel. An active swimmer, Aaron regularly advocates for swim safety and drowning prevention for the YMCA and our partner Colin’s Hope. Adaptive Programs for persons with special abilities has a special place in his heart. Programs like adaptive swim lessons, all-abilities gymnastics, wheelchair basketball and Camp in Motion inspire Aaron to continue working hard to serve all people in our community.

“When I was young, shortly after my parents’ divorce, the Y was an amazing place for me to go after school. It provided a clean, safe environment where I learned about sportsmanship, personal fitness, and character. I truly feel indebted to the Y for being a positive influence during this difficult time in my life. Today, the Y is that and so much more. I enjoy volunteering for an organization that has amazing goals and achieves them.” – Aaron Vollmer 

Jeff Bomer Legacy of Giving Circle – Founding Inductees

We honored the life and legacy of longtime YMCA volunteer, Edwin “Jeff” Bomer (March 1936-November 2017). Jeff was the very first Will W. Miller Volunteer Leadership award winner in 1990, known by his peers as the backbone of the organization and a guiding leader who served for more than 40 years.

The Founding Inductees include:

Robert and Margaret Ayres

Jeff Bomer

Michael and Susan Dell

Scott and Sally Follett

Friends of the YMCA

Susan Henricks

Catherine and Andy Hines

Douglas Kadison

Jeff and Gail Kodosky

Marco Leal

Mark Olmstead

Jean Olson

Thom and Kerry Parker

Nelson Puett

Hamilton Rial

Larry Smith

Mary C. and Bob Rizzo

Donna Stockton-Hicks

Carl Stuart

Jane Wallace

At the end of the ceremony, Ellie Falcao and Paul Hoffman, Capital Campaign Co-Chairs, presented some very exciting news. Thanks to a $6.25 million gift from the Moody Foundation, the capital campaign for YMCA Camp Moody is in its public phase!

When George Yonge donated a parcel of land to the YMCA of Austin in 1999, he knew that his dream of a nature camp for children was in good hands. Our extensive camp-creation history and our mission to get people active and outside meant we’d take this gift seriously and manage its use responsibly. After careful research and planning, community input and the creation of a solid support team, YMCA Camp Moody (formerly known as Camp Cypress) is now more than a dream—it is a viable, significant, soon-to-be beloved addition to our community landscape. The land itself stands out—a scenic and diverse 85-acre nature preserve located 15 miles south of central Austin and near I-35, along a half-mile stretch of Onion Creek in Buda, Texas—and our plans for sharing that land are equally impressive.

To learn more about YMCA Camp Moody, donate to the capital campaign, or schedule a tour of the property, visit


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