Janelle Wells will attest to that. Wells was recognized February 16 as the New Tampa Family YMCA’s “Volunteer of the Year” during the Tampa Metropolitan YMCA’s annual Community Impact Dinner that highlights the work of numerous volunteers from all 15 Tampa-area YMCAs.
“Not many people know that the YMCA is a nonprofit, four-star charity (as rated by Charity Navigator), focusing on youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility,” says Wells, who has been volunteering at the New Tampa YMCA for three years. “They are committed to uniting all walks of life to create positive social change.”
There’s certainly plenty of choices in New Tampa for people who want to exercise, ranging from 24-hour corporate chain fitness centers to private trainers who deliver the tough love of a boot camp drill sergeant. Wells says the YMCA offers something none of those other options can offer:
“Even with the trend of privatized youth sports and boutique for-profit health fitness clubs, the Y has stayed true to its mission of serving the community, and that speaks volumes to me,” says Wells.
Wells serves on the New Tampa Family YMCA’s advisory board and is its current chair. She coaches teams and assists with community events such as the Fall Festival and Healthy Kids Day. Wells also helps with YMCA programs in communities outside of New Tampa as a member of the Tampa Metro YMCA Oversight Committee.
Volunteering at the YMCA also gives Wells — who has a Ph.D. degree in Health and Human performance from the University of Florida in Gainesville — a chance to combine her love of sports and healthy living with her professional expertise. She currently also teaches in the Sport & Entertainment Management program at the University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business.
“I developed service-learning projects for my Sport & Entertainment Management M.B.A. and M.S. students, where each individual is encouraged and expected to volunteer 20 hours,” says Wells.
Some of the YMCA’s activities Wells and her students have been involved with are drowning prevention and the Y’s Teen Achievers and Teen Leadership development programs, as well as its Veggie Van, that sells low-price vegetables in neighborhoods lacking a nearby supermarket.
The contributions of time and energy that Wells and other volunteers make are appreciated, says Tampa Metro YMCA communications director Lalita Llerena.
“The Tampa Y is committed to strengthening the community, but we couldn’t do this without the help, support and guidance of our volunteers,” she says.
Wells cites, “compassion, courage, commitment, and service,” as principles guiding her volunteer efforts and daily living. Describing herself as “a working mother of three,” Wells says volunteering and serving others is its own reward and considers the opportunities to do so with the YMCA as another way the organization benefits her family.
“The Y has shaped my life through (its) spirit of service and connection,” says Wells. “It’s a haven that allows me the opportunity to live healthy, engage with my family and serve the community.”
Since opening in 2001, The New Tampa Family YMCA has become a go-to place in New Tampa for residents wanting to engage in not only fitness routines, but in other activities as well. Members can swim in the City of Tampa’s only 50-meter full-Olympic-size pool, get a workout in the indoor wellness facility that’s equipped with everything from weight machines to treadmills, or find a group activity such as aerobics, basketball and so much more.
There’s even a rock wall available for indoor mountaineering. Youth sports such as basketball and a variety of camps are available for children, as well as classes providing instruction in swimming, martial arts and more.
For more info about recreational activities and volunteer opportunities at the New Tampa Family YMCA, located at 16221 Compton Dr. in Tampa Palms, visit online at TampaYMCA.org or call 866-9622.