LIVINGSTON, NJ — Michele Williams, who grew up in the inner city of Newark in the 1960s not knowing how to swim, was recently appointed to the Metro YMCA Board of Directors with women and children in mind.
As an adult who was never exposed to swimming as a kid, Williams remains to be afraid of water. When her son turned three, she signed him up for YMCA swim lessons. At the time, she was living in Irvington, where there was no YMCA or other facility that offered swim lessons, so she travelled to Montclair.
“I didn’t want him to have a fear of the water like I did,” she said. “It is so important for kids to learn how to swim at an early age.”
The Springfield resident and grandmother of five recently joined the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges’ board of directors to advocate for women and children.
“My heart is for women and children because I feel they are the most under served populations,” said Williams, who wants to increase their access to swimming and other exercise and wellness programs. “I was looking for an opportunity to help them get exposed to all the YMCA has to offer."
“Michele brings with her a long history of helping others, and her contribution of time and talent is treasured,” said Metro YMCA President and CEO Richard Gorab as he welcomed Williams to the team.
Williams is co-owner and Chief Operating Officer at KRA Insurance Agency, Inc., an independent insurance agency in Springfield. While attending Arts High School in Newark, Williams got a part-time job at a small insurance agency through the school’s work-study program, launching her long career in the industry.
“I’m privileged to have the opportunities I’ve had. I have learned a lot on my journey, and it wasn’t always easy,” she said. “I want to make it easier for others to see all they can do and be.”
A member of the Fountain Baptist Church in Summit, Williams is part of a ministry that volunteers at Isaiah House, a family shelter in East Orange. The volunteers run workshops for women on budgeting, self-confidence and beauty, to help them realize their potential. Prior to that, Williams started a clothing ministry at another church to provide clothes to low-income women returning to the workforce.
While Williams has a lot of professional responsibility, she likes to be light-hearted.
“When I leave this earth, I want people to know I was here. I want my time on this earth to have mattered,” she said. “I’m very sensible and organized, and most people only see my serious side, but I’m very funny. I like to make people laugh—sometimes I think I missed my calling."