HARDYSTON, NJ - When the Sussex County YMCA needed help running the Swordfish swim team, the entire Justiniano family answered the call.
Yami Justiniano, the mother, volunteered as a coordinator of the boys’ team. Her husband, Tony, took on setting up for meets and even cleaning up afterward, with the help of 17-year-old Antonio, an accomplished Swordfish swimmer. And 15-year-old Brandon has worked the all-important concession stand, organizing and tracking the inventory, much of which the family donated.
“The many hours this family has donated over the past four years is truly amazing,” Sussex County YMCA Executive Director Jennifer Gardner said.
The family affair in volunteerism has earned the Justinianos of Byram the 2015 W. Daniel McCain Award for Youth Development from the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges, the largest association of YMCAs in New Jersey.
The family was honored at the Metro Y’s 39th annual dinner, held April 7 at the Hanover Manor in East Hanover. The Sussex County YMCA is one of the Metro Y’s six branches.
“It’s amazing to be honored this way, to be picked out from so many dedicated volunteers,’’ said Yami Justiniano, who, like her husband, works full-time. When they first volunteered, the Justinianos had no idea how involved they would become.
“We volunteered when they asked, and then we just kept helping out,’’ Yami Justiniano said.
Antonio Justiniano, a senior at Lenape Valley High School, has been on the Swordfish swim team for four years, and has achieved the platinum swim level.
“The swim team means a lot to him, so it meant a lot to us,’’ his mother said. “We’ve developed good friendships, and it’s been nice to be there for each other.”
The boys have also volunteered at the annual Healthy Kids Day event, and at the Adult Mini Meet, a swim team fundraiser. The whole family works out at the Y.
Gardner said the family has a “willing-to-do-anything attitude’’ that has made swim meets a success, including last summer’s first swim team championships at the Y.