On the Horizon

Published on: July 1, 2015

Want to have input on available Y programs? Join the Advisory Board


 Penny Fletcher

Penny Fletcher

After several years of planning, the South County YMCA is finally a reality, and the first summer camp is currently in progress there. Although only Phase I, which contains outdoor portions of the facility, is completed, the new Y is operational and now seeking volunteers for its Advisory Board.

An effective Advisory Board can provide non-binding, informed guidance and serve as a tremendous ally in the quest for superior programming and fundraising as well as many day-to-day functions that need to be decided when a new facility like this first opens.

About a year ago, ground was broken for Phase I, and that now-finished portion includes an outdoor basketball court, a track around the facility grounds, five full-size sports fields, and a pavilion with a concession stand area, a small office and restroom facilities.

Dan Ribas, senior program director for the South County Y, is working hard with Tampa staff, especially Cindy Sofarelli, who took the lead in pitching the local facility at meetings around South County several years ago.

“The local advisory board members are ambassadors for their community and help the staff evaluate community needs as well as the Y programs and services that we can offer,” Sofarelli said. “They also share the Y’s mission and cause in the community and help raise funds for our annual campaign.”

All money raised goes directly back into the local community to assist the people served, who include children, families and adults who need financial assistance to belong.

Although the members of the Advisory Board will serve on a volunteer basis, they will have input into the programs that will be held at the new Y, as well as into how it will be governed.

The Y staff can gain a lot of knowledge from people who live and work in the area, especially about things deemed lacking that they may be able to provide.

By networking with the staff, the Advisory Board can bring ideas to the table and discuss them as a group, since each area of the county is unique and South County’s needs are not the same as those of Tampa, or Plant City or Valrico — or anywhere else in the county where other Y’s are located.

The new South County YMCA is at 9650 Old Big Bend Road in Gibsonton.

After attending many meetings in South County, Sofarelli has a general feel for the area and what the people want, and is the contact for anyone wishing to volunteer for the Advisory Board. You can reach her by email at Cindy.Sofarelli@tampaymca.org.

So whether you’re new to the area and looking for a good place to volunteer, or perhaps just have an interest in helping this new facility get its start, here’s an opportunity for you to make a real difference in local people’s lives.