WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?

Growing up in a small village in upstate New York, I saw my parents and neighbors work together for the good of our tiny community. My parents volunteered locally and were also active in larger advocacy issues, especially my mother.

The joke at our house was that my mother’s handwriting was recognizable to every elected official from the local to the national level. I started volunteering on my own when I was in my early teens, serving dinners at the Grange Hall and teaching little kids to swim for the American Red Cross. I think my parents and neighbors instilled in us that building community is both an individual and team effort.

For me, those lessons shaped not only my personal life, but my professional life too. Although Alliance is more than 20 times larger than my hometown, it still functions the same way — neighbors caring for neighbors, at both the individual and the organizational level. I have been fortunate to work in an organization that is part of that effort. The YWCA of Alliance, a United Way service provider, is a relatively small association that is part of a larger community effort to build an increasingly stronger Alliance community.

The YWCA focuses primarily on the goals of women, assisting them with housing, basic needs and employment. In a 12-month period, the YWCA partnered with community volunteers and Alliance Community Hospital in a home delivery and congregate dining meal program for seniors. Together, they delivered more than 17,000 meals and safety checks. The association serves as the fiscal agent for Synergy Alliance, a collaborative of after-school providers in Alliance. In addition to meeting immediate needs, local YWCAs are part of the larger YWCA movement, which seeks long-term solutions through social justice.

WHAT IS ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?

Sand, surf, and a good book … and on rainy days, a fine museum. As a kid, my family vacationed in Cape Cod and New Jersey. Later, my husband and I lived on Cape Cod for a while and the shore is in our blood. I would also love to visit Japan again with my family.

WHAT IS ON YOUR MIND?

I believe that after-school experiences are essential to the healthy development of children and youth, and that quality programs assist kids to become capable lifelong learners and contributing members of their communities. Often programming is supported short-term, many times in the form of seed money, and is subject to the political environment. As a community, I believe we need better long-term strategies to sustain effective programs for kids.

ABOUT GLORIA

What: Executive Director of YWCA of Alliance (23 years); prior to the YWCA, she worked as director of Interfaith Child Development Center, as a teacher and as Education Director for Stark County Head Start.

Education: SUNY — Oneonta and Dutchess, bachelor’s degree in education and an associate degree in liberal arts; post-graduate work in early childhood education at KSU.

Community Boards: City of Alliance Health Board, Synergy Alliance, Alliance Career Training & Assistance Program,Alliance City Schools Family & Civic Engagement; just completed terms on the Alliance Community Pantry & YWCA Mid-Atlantic Region Finance.

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