April 12th, 2024

YMCA recognizes staff for contribution to community

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on November 4, 2023.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman YMCA of Lethbridge CEO Jennifer Petracek-Kolb presents Matt Clarkson with the inaugural YMCA Communinty Commitment Scholarship Friday at the Cavendish Farms Centre.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The YMCA of Lethbridge recognized seven staff members for their contributions to the YMCA, and dedication to the community while engaged in different levels of studies.

YMCA of Lethbridge CEO, Jennifer Petracek-Kolb said four of them were recipients of YMCA scholarships, while the other three were nominees of outside foundations’ scholarships. One was nominated for the RBC Future Launch for Black Youth Scholarship and the other two for the Ted Rogers Community Scholarship.

“Those recipients of direct rewards from the YMCA of Lethbridge were one for the YMCA Community Commitment Scholarship of $1,000, and we had three additional recipients of a Lifeguard Scholarship earlier this spring valued at $1,340,” said Petracek-Kolb.

She said the $1,340 value for the Lifeguard Scholarship was based on the cost of the certifications and resource materials for lifeguarding courses.

“We wanted to eliminate barriers for young people who wanted to be lifeguards but who couldn’t financially afford the cost of the lifeguard training,” said Petracek-Kolb.

 She said it was a successful program for them as all three recipients remained with the YMCA as lifeguards.

When it comes to the other two scholarships, Petracek-Kolb said the YMCA was approached by both foundations and asked for nominations from the YMCA’s volunteers and staff.

The RBC Future Launch for Black Youth Scholarship offers $10,000 per year for up to four years while the Ted Rogers Scholarship offers $1,000.

Petracek-Kolb said it is important for the YMCA to recognize their employees and volunteers- among their 250 staff she estimates at least 100 of them are students in some capacity.

“We value them, of course as employees, we need to keep our facilities operating and running, but we also value the insights that they bring with their education into our programs and Matt is a really good example of that as someone who’s brought his learnings around reconciliation into our program planning and into how we work with community partners throughout the year,” said Petracek-Kolb.

She was referring to their inaugural YMCA of Lethbridge Community Commitment Scholarship recipient, Matt Clarkson who has been working at the YMCA while enrolled in school.

Clarkson told media Friday he is the YMCA’s HR coordinator and has been working full-time while enrolled at the University of Lethbridge full-time as well, where he is majoring in Indigenous Studies with a specialization in Indigenous Law.

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity to have a scholarship, especially the first scholarship that the YMCA has offered for the community commitment. It really just speaks to the wise commitment to their staff and to us as students,” said Clarkson

 He said he appreciates everything the YMCA does to allow its employees to explore further education while maintaining a presence in the community through employment.

 As of what’s next for him, Clarkson said once he finishes his degree he will continue with the YMCA on their people and culture team.

 “One of my big things is that idea of reconciliation and building relations with Indigenous peoples in southern Alberta. So, with that I plan on either continuing my education in Indigenous Studies specifically on Indigenous Law, or proceeding on to law school at a later date to practice Indigenous law and fight for the rights of Indigenous people and Aboriginal people across Canada,” said Clarkson.

The YMCA’s Lifeguard Scholarship recipients were Abby Loveridge, William McDonald and Ty Stensrud. The RBC Future Launch for Black Youth Scholarship nominee is Kimoya Edwards and the Ted Rogers Scholarship nominees are Payton Hanna and Grant Nelson.

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