Some years back, when Edward Walker Jr. worked out Tuesday mornings at Sussex County YMCA, he’d often chat with another early exerciser about baseball  — he a Red Sox fan, she an Orioles devotee — and the YMCA itself.

It turned out, “she” was Jennifer Gardner, at the time the associate executive director of the Y.

“I had thought of the Y as a gym and swim, but learned the depth of the Y’s commitment to the community,” said Walker, who joined the Sussex County YMCA Board of Managers soon after Gardner’s promotion to executive director in 2012.

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As second vice chair of the board, Walker stepped up his involvement in 2016, helping the Y secure sizable donations for the 9,000-square-foot expansion that will begin in May, and sharing his expertise in cultivating new board members with the leadership of the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges and all six of its branches. The Metro YMCA is the largest association of YMCAs in New Jersey.

“Ed understands the impact of the work of the Y, and is generous with his time, expertise and financial support, said Metro YMCA President and CEO Richard K. Gorab. Walker received the John C. Prizer Award for Social Responsibility last night at the Metro YMCA’s 40th annual recognition dinner, held at the Hanover Manor in East Hanover. 

“I’m honored and humbled,” Walker said. “I’m positive there are people more deserving than I. Everybody here is so wonderful.” The 56-year-old said he enjoys his work with the Y because “you see actual results from the input you have. On this board, it’s impossible not to be involved.”

As senior vice president and director of wealth management for First Hope Bank, Walker educates fellow Y leaders about various ways people can support the Y through planned giving. The Andover resident chairs the Sussex County YMCA board governance committee, and serves on the annual campaign committee, the golf committee, and the capital campaign committee.

“Ed is very well liked and respected amongst his fellow board members,” Gardner said. “He serves the Y and our community with care, compassion, and a great sense of humor!” She noted that Walker made it possible for a family in need to attend camp last summer, increasing his already generous annual giving to the Y.

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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.