LYNN — The YMCA of Metro North held its annual meeting Thursday morning in Gannon Golf Club’s function hall. But this was not one of those boring, tedious gatherings one usually associates with business functions.
This was, as Kathleen Walsh, the organization’s chief operating officer, said, “a celebration.”
Scholarships totalling more than $15,000 were awarded to seven area high school seniors. Community partners and volunteers were honored, and a longtime supporter shocked everyone with a commitment to donate $100,000 over five years for scholarships.
And, yes, the Y enjoyed solid fiscal and membership growth for the fifth consecutive year, said CEO Bruce Macdonald. The YMCA of Metro North is comprised of the Lynn YMCA, Torigian Family YMCA in Peabody, and the Saugus and Melrose Family YMCAs. Macdonald said about $21 million of the needed $30 million has been raised for the building of a new Lynn YMCA, with a groundbreaking planned for late summer/early fall.
Youth Champion Scholarship recipients are Chisom Amadi of Lynn, a senior at Pioneer Charter School of Science II in Saugus, who will enter Boston College’s nursing program this fall; Dax Billingsley, of Lynn English High School, will enter Rivier University’s Homeland Security program; Sarah Buckley, of Peabody Veterans Memorial High School, will study nursing at Boston College; Madeline Hughes, of Melrose High School, will major in biology at Brown University; Abrar Jalal, of Lynn English High School, will major in computer science at Boston College; Knox Lendall, of Peabody Veterans Memorial High School, will attend Wells College in New York and study business; and Taima Walker, of Lynn Classical High School, will be an education major at Suffolk University.
Joel Abramson of the Scholarship Committee said when that group first sat down to select recipients, there was money to award four $500 scholarships. “These kids were so amazing, in and out of the classroom. It was impossible to narrow the list to four,” he said, and another $15,000 was raised on the spot, boosting the number and value of scholarships.
Warren Waugh, co-founder of the Peabody-based Lyon-Waugh Auto Group, pledged to donate $20,000 a year for five years. The money will fund scholarships.
Waugh said the YMCA has long been an important part of his life. “I was a member of the Y from third-grade on to my high school years in Cambridge, at the Central Square Y.” He became a champion swimmer, competing at Y’s throughout the region. “I got a full scholarship to Babson College, thanks to swimming, which I learned at the Y.”
The unexpected donation left CEO Macdonald speechless, not an easy thing to do according to his co-workers.
“I was totally shocked,” said Macdonald. “Warren has been a real supporter of the Y for a long time. I first met him when (then Peabody Mayor) Peter Torigian and I visited his business partner Bud Lyon to discuss building the new Peabody Y. Warren was instrumental in helping that get built.”
David and Catherine Gravel, owners of Peabody-based GraVoc, received the Community Partner award. Many of their employees attended the celebration.
Linda Bears and Evelyn Shields received the Leonard Service Volunteer Award for initiating a wellness program for adult cancer survivors.
John Smolinsky, who recently retired as chief executive of Webster First Federal Credit Union in Saugus, was thanked for serving as chairman of the Y’s Board of Directors. He is stepping down after five years.