YMCA hosts 35th annual Heritage Club Dinner


Current CEO David O’Leary speaks with Heritage Club member Betty Hughes.

Current CEO David O’Leary speaks with Heritage Club member Betty Hughes.


Carrie and Bill O’Leary being inducted into the Heritage Club as former CEO, Ed Thomas looks on.


Mayor Mike Barhorst presents former CEO Ed Thomas with the Proclamation for “Ed Thomas Day, Oct. 21.2021.”


SIDNEY — The Sidney-Shelby County YMCA hosted the 35th Heritage Club Donor Recognition Dinner at The Oaks Club located at Shelby Hills Golf Club on Thursday, Oct.21. The YMCA Heritage Club is a group of highly dedicated individuals who have supported the YMCA Endowment Fund with a gift of cash or securities, or who have made provisions for the YMCA in their estate planning. This group has created a legacy which will help to ensure that the YMCA has the added resources needed to assist and impact people’s lives for generations to come.

YMCA Board Member, Pastor Mark Kaufman of Connection Point Church of God, gave an invocation and then invited members and guests to enjoy a buffet dinner. Board President John Grazioso welcomed attendees and asked for a moment of silence in memory of those Heritage Club members that had passed since the last Heritage Club event: Barbara Echemann, Mivi Given, John Humphris, Charles Kuhlman and Virginia Matz.

The Sidney-Shelby County YMCA took this evening as an opportunity to officially recognize and thank former CEO Ed Thomas for his 38 years of service with the Y (16 of which were in Sidney). Thomas took on the leadership role in Sidney in January 2005 and led the organization through 16 years of growth, innovation and community impact. Past Board President Rhonda Keister took the opportunity to toast/roast Thomas – highlighting many of his accomplishments. She then presented Thomas with a gift from the Y along with flowers and a thank you for his wife Edwinna. Thomas was surprised with a visit from Mayor Mike Barhorst, who presented a proclamation declaring Oct. 21, 2021 “Ed Thomas Day,” citing many of Thomas’ accomplishments over the course of his tenure in Sidney.

Keister added “Ed’s impact on the YMCA will never be forgotten. He has spent the last 16 years in Sidney, and most of his life exemplifying the Y’s mission which is about creating a place where all people can enhance their lives through fitness, friendships, community and healthy living.”

Thomas was the keynote speaker for the evening, sharing his “Y Story” with those in attendance.

“The Y has been an integral part of my life since I first started as a volunteer back in 1983,” said Thomas. “My decision two years later to make the Y my career was one of the most significant and best I ever made. Now after 38 years, I am truly grateful for the incredible opportunity God has given me which has included being able to work and serve along with some of the most wonderful individuals while helping others in very significant ways. Thank you to all who have been part of my journey and more importantly for helping to improve lives and strengthen our communities.”

David O’Leary, CEO, gave a mission report to attendees, first addressing how the Y handled the mandated 2020 closing due to COVID.

“Almost instinctively, we did what the Y has always done throughout its 176 year history. We identified some needs in our community that the Y was uniquely positioned to address, then we adapted and sought new ways to serve those in need. Within 24 hours of closing the Y’s doors, we began to explore teaching virtual group exercise classes for the first time ever, and within a few days began offering 9 different classes multiple times throughout the week through Facebook Live to the entire community at no charge.”

He added that the Y began to partner with numerous local businesses including Wilson Health and the Amos Memorial Library to provide information and a sense of connection, virtually.

“Many people were isolated and worried about the unknowns and they couldn’t come to the Y as they typically had, for help. So we brought the Y to them and shared the love of God in any way that we could.” O’Leary then highlighted the Y’s transformation to a Pandemic Child Care Center during that time, in order to care for the children of first responders and essential workers in the community.

O’Leary wrapped up his mission report by stating, “We know that the Y’s Mission is to ‘Put Christian Principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all.’ I am proud to say that the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA is dedicated to fulfilling its Christian Mission in our community. The Y remains committed to sharing the love of Jesus with children and families in our Child Development Center, while teaching kids and even adults to swim, through gymnastics classes and team practices, youth basketball, T-ball and soccer leagues, Nerf Nights and STEM programs, just as much as when we’re comforting someone struggling with cancer or Parkinson’s Disease and any number of other chronic diseases, or health challenges.”

Dean Weinert, YMCA Foundation board member, updated guests on the status of the Endowment Fund. Weinert then inducted Bill and Carrie O’Leary and David and Emily O’Leary into the Heritage Club for 2021.

David O’Leary closed the event by stating, “We are so thankful for all of the families and individuals who have pledged to keep the YMCA strong as part of their planned giving. On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, staff, and especially the hundreds of families and children who are benefiting from Heritage Club members’ generosity, we thank you for making such a meaningful commitment to the YMCA.”

For more information on the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA Heritage Club, contact Sidney-Shelby County YMCA CEO David O’Leary at 937-492-9134.

Current CEO David O’Leary speaks with Heritage Club member Betty Hughes.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2021/11/web1_IMG_3428.jpgCurrent CEO David O’Leary speaks with Heritage Club member Betty Hughes.

Carrie and Bill O’Leary being inducted into the Heritage Club as former CEO, Ed Thomas looks on.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2021/11/web1_CarrieAndBillOleary.jpgCarrie and Bill O’Leary being inducted into the Heritage Club as former CEO, Ed Thomas looks on.

Mayor Mike Barhorst presents former CEO Ed Thomas with the Proclamation for “Ed Thomas Day, Oct. 21.2021.”
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2021/11/web1_EdThomasAndMayorBarhorst.jpgMayor Mike Barhorst presents former CEO Ed Thomas with the Proclamation for “Ed Thomas Day, Oct. 21.2021.”