EAST ORANGE, NJ - Sixteen-year-old Adrian Geronimo made such a strong impression as a camp counselor at East Orange YMCA last summer that he was hired to work at the Y’s School Age Child Care program during the school year.

“Adrian comes to work daily, wearing a winning smile,” said East Orange YMCA After School and Program Director Kim Winslow. “He greets the children with high fives, handshakes, and a positive word for the day.”

Geronimo received East Orange YMCA’s 2016 Youth of the Year Award at the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges’ 40th annual recognition dinner, held April 5 at the Hanover Manor in East Hanover. East Orange YMCA is one of six branches of the Metro YMCA, the largest association of YMCAs in New Jersey.

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“I wasn’t expecting to be honored, but this is amazing,” said Geronimo, a sophomore at Cicely L. Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts in East Orange. “I love children,” said Geronimo, who has two brothers and two sisters. “I make sure they’re having fun and staying safe.”

Winslow said parents of children with special needs have commended Geronimo for his patience and attentiveness. “He communicates with these parent regularly and is always looking to find ways to mainstream the children to participate with other children in the group,” she said.

Geronimo is bilingual, and used that skill to translate camp information for Spanish-speaking parents, and to help a counselor-in-training improve his English, Winslow said.

The East Orange resident plans to pursue a career in music. He plays the tuba in his school’s concert band and the bass guitar in its jazz band, and spends Saturdays playing the piano at The Juilliard School in Manhattan.

ABOUT THE Y

Established in 1885, the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges is the largest association of YMCAs in New Jersey, serving more than 35,000 individuals and providing nearly $1.3 million in direct financial assistance. Its six YMCAs, located in East Orange, Livingston, Maplewood, Hardyston, Stillwater and Wayne, are committed to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living, and fostering a sense of social responsibility. They offer an array of programs that build spirit, mind and body for people of all ages and all circumstances.