Health & Wellness

South Mountain YMCA Named Branch of the Year by State’s Largest YMCA Association

South Mountain YMCA staff celebrates Branch of the Year honor Credits: South Mountain YMCA

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - It was a great year for the South Mountain YMCA in 2016, with increased enrollment in its child care and summer camp programs, a successful Memorial Day Duck Race, the first year the YMCA had hosted this annual Maplewood event, and the honor of being named YMCA Branch of the Year.

The Metro YMCA, which has six branches and is the largest association of YMCAs, named South Mountain YMCA the 2016 Branch of the Year at its 40th annual recognition dinner, held April 5 at the Hanover Manor in East Hanover. More than 200 people attended. 

“South Mountain YMCA is a powerhouse, creating innovative opportunities across Maplewood and South Orange for children, families, and adults to grow, strengthen ties, and have fun,” said Richard K. Gorab, president and CEO of the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges. “The branch puts into action the Y’s mission of youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.”

Sign Up for E-News

“We’re thrilled for this acknowledgement of our staff, which works hard to ensure South Mountain YMCA’s reputation remains in high regard,” said James Goodger, executive director of the South Mountain Y, which has 76 full-time and 160 part-time employees. “We’re Branch of the Year because we have a very sturdy foundation, and that allows us to dream big and think outside the box — to destroy the box.”

One of the Y’s major achievements, according to a press release from the organization, was increasing summer camp enrollment, which increased by 12.5 percent from 2015 through expanded marketing efforts and the addition of two new specialty camps, a skateboard clinic and Glam Camp, a hands-on introduction to fashion.

This summer, the Y is adding three more specialty camps: Masters of Art, Build It, and Superhero Academy. In Masters of Art, children entering grades 3 through 5 will explore artists from around the world. Build It at The Woodland in South Orange will offer children entering grades 2 to 4 the chance to design and build bridges, boats, towers, wheels and rockets. And in Superhero Academy, children entering kindergarten through second grade will create their own superhero and land in a real comic book, on a T-shirt, and in a movie.

Enrollment in the Y’s School-Age Child Care (SACC) program grew by 6 percent, stated a release from the YMCA, and the program at Marshall Elementary School in South Orange created a multicultural library to introduce children to different cultures through age-appropriate reading material. 

The South Mountain YMCA also increased enrollment in several of its other programs. 2016 saw an increase in the number of travel basketball teams, an expansion of the theater program into the Montrose School in South Orange, and the launch of an array of new programs.

The YMCA also increased its presence at community events like South Orange's annual PlayDay. A generator was installed in the gymnasium roof so the Y can be used by the community in times of major weather events and power outages. The Y ran the annual Memorial Day Duck Race Day in Maplewood for the first time in 2106, and despite uncooperative weather which moved the event indoors, the event raised $4,000 more than projected. 

Despite these many successes, not all went as planned in 2016 for the YMCA. Looking to expand services in South Orange, the Y tried to secure a lease on a Walton Avenue property owned by the township. While the Y didn’t win the bid, “we were able to make important community connections,” Goodger said. 

Working with Maplewood and South Orange recreation departments, the school district and several other organizations, the Y took the lead on a competitive federal grant application to improve middle schoolers’ activity levels. The well-received application was not selected for the grant, but again, the Y deepened ties with its partners, Goodger said.

The 2,000-plus member South Mountain YMCA continues to strengthen its relationship with supporters. It created Friends of the Y, to thank donors and keep them abreast of how their donations are being used for good. More than 80 supporters attended a Friends of the Y reception last May, and Goodger has begun writing a quarterly newsletter to share stories of the Y’s impact.

“The greatest thing about 2016 was that the team rose to the occasion to raise the bar at the branch, despite many challenges and hurdles,” said Rob Harrigan, chairman of the South Mountain YMCA Board of Managers. “They were able to focus on a year of incredible innovation in programming and services for the communities we serve.”

Related articles

Rain Moves Memorial Day Duck Races Inside for Duck Fest 2016

South Mountain YMCA Sets $165K Fundraising Goal to Help Families and Individuals in Need

South Mountain YMCA Names Maplewood Role Model Youth of the Year

Metro YMCA Promotes Head of Award-Winning Marketing/Communications Department

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


Spring is (Almost) Here

Get ready for farmers markets and outdoor events, spring is bound to come at some point! To help you get ready Sadie's has lots of new spring products including this great Market Tote by Feed- the purchase of this cute everyday bag will donate 50 school meals. While stopping in for this tote check out some of the other great spring items just in. Don't forget the charity of the month is ...

Feeling Lucky

Shop of the morning to you! It’s that time of year when everyone’s color is green! Stop by Sadie's to get your St. Patty’s shirt before the big day. While your here and feeling lucky check out our latest Spring styles for Men and Women. You may make your friends green with envy.

Horoscope: Have a birthday between 3/13 and 3/24? If you stumble into a ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


South Orange Police Blotter - Adult Arrests for Shoplifting and DWI Reported

March 16, 2018

South Orange Police Blotter as of March 16

Adult Arrest/Shoplifting - William Minitee, a 45 year old Irvington resident was arrested on Thursday, March 8, at approximately 12:40 p.m. for shoplifting. Security officers at the Stop & Shop on Valley Street observed Minitee conceal several items on his person and then flee the store without paying for the items. Officers stopped a subject ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - Home Burglary, Burglary at DeHart Community Center Reported

March 4 - Burglary; At approximately 1:20 a.m., officers observed a male removing several items from inside DeHart Community Center. The male was identified as 22 year old Joe Carr of Irvington. He was arrested and charged with burglary.

March 6 - Burglary; At approximately 11:30 a.m., officers responded to a home on Broadview Avenue on a report of a ...

Maplewood to Hold Spring Egg Hunt on Sunday, March 25

March 19, 2018

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Hop on down to Maplewood's Spring Egg Hunt! Maplewood will hold its 34th annual hunt on Sunday, March 25, from noon to 2 p.m. in Memorial Park.

An email from the Maplewood Recreation Department states to "please arrive promptly at noon with a basket or bag to make sure you don’t miss anything."

At last year's event, hundreds of kids ...

Most South Orange Maplewood Schools Plan to Participate in National School Walkout on Wednesday, March 14

SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD, NJ - On Wednesday, March 14, the Women’s March Youth EMPOWER is organizing a National School Walkout. According to the national march website, the walkout is for 17 minutes at 10 a.m. "to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods... and to demand Congress ...

Upcoming Events

Tue, March 20, 7:00 PM

Bow Tie South Orange Cinemas, South Orange

18th Annual New Jersey Jewish Film Festival

Arts & Entertainment Religions And Spirituality

Wed, March 21, 12:00 PM

Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, South Orange

The Purposes and Rhythms of Jewish Living

Education Religions And Spirituality


Wed, March 21, 6:00 PM

Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center, Conference Room A/B, First Floor, Livingston

Colon Cancer Screening Education Program at Saint ...

Health & Wellness

Wed, March 21, 7:00 PM

Boccone South, South Orange

A Taste of Italy

Food & Drink

Hundreds Cheer on Marchers and Bands at 67th West Orange St. Patrick’s Day Parade

March 19, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ – Even a week’s delay caused by a massive snowstorm couldn’t dampen the spirits of the large crowd of spectators who cheered on the marchers and bands who participated in West Orange’s 67th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday.

Wending their way up Main Street were more than 25 bands, including marching bands from northern New Jersey high ...

Members of Brick City Brims Charged for Alleged Roles in Drug Trafficking Organization

NEWARK, NJ – Six members of the Brick City Brims set of the Bloods street gang were arrested last week for their alleged roles in a major drug trafficking organization that dealt heroin in and around Newark.

Tyrone Brown, 34, Lamarr Burwell, 22, and Miles McCloud, 37, all of Newark, and Martin Pettiford, 23, of Irvington, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to ...

Commemoration of Jay Kielwasser, Union Animal Control Officer

March 17, 2018

UNION, NJ – A commemoration of the late Jay Kielwasser's work as Union’s Animal Control Officer took place at Wednesday evening’s Board of Health meeting.

Board President Jackie Carter said Kielwasser, who passed away in April, was the first Animal Control officer appointed by the Board of Health. 

“You really don’t know how someone ...

Springfield Residents Cope as Power Slowly Returns

SPRINGFIELD, NJ - As of Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m. Springfield is showing outage of 2,677 or 25 percent, which is down from over 40 percent in the last two hours. It is also down from 68 percent at the peak. Union County at this point is over 20 percent of JCP&L’s statewide outages. Trucks are visible on Township streets with a caravan spotted on ...

Summer Camp at Lightbridge Academy in Millburn

March 19, 2018

If you are looking for a fun-filled summer for your little ones, look no further!

Lightbridge Academy in Millburn is providing a summer camp program with tons of exciting guests, water play activities, and so much more!

Call us at 973-218-1800 to learn about what we have to offer.


Weekly Specials at Ashley Marketplace - March 16 to March 22

Shop Ashley Marketplace & Cafe for your everyday needs!

This week's specials are:

Litofish Sardines $5.99ea (Ashley Fish Market)
Total Fage Yogurt 4/$5
Aviv Passover Matzos 2/$7
Ground Beef $3.99lb (Meat)
Roasted Vegetables $7.99lb (Prep Food)
President Brie $6.99lb (Cheese)
Iceberg Lettuce $1.99
Serrano Ham $14.99lb (Deli)
Turkey Hill Ice Cream ...

SOMA Film Festival Starts Friday Night, March 16

The 3rd annual SOMA Film Festival is finishing up the final touches before they kickoff this weekend's event at The Woodland, Bow Tie Cinemas in South Orange, and Maplewood Theater.  

With 16 screening programs there is something for everyone. The popular Kids Program is back for two engagements with both sold out as is the Opening Night Party and Screening. 

Tickets are still ...