LIVINGSTON, NJ — Lu Hom, a Livingston resident who joined the West Essex YMCA in 2012 so that her children could take swim lessons, has since become the YMCA’s indispensable volunteer.
Hom recently earned the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges’ W. Daniel McCain Award for Youth Development and was honored at the Metro Y’s annual dinner earlier this month at the Hanover Manor in East Hanover.
Hom spends Tuesdays helping adults with special needs from The Center for Autism and the ARC of Essex learn to swim and play other sports at the YMCA. On Sundays, she can be found practicing English with new immigrants at the Y’s English as a second language program. She also raises funds for the Special Olympics swim team through its swimathon.
“I am glad that I can be part of their lives, helping the people in need,” said Hom, who lives in Livingston with her husband and three children, ages 6, 9 and 11. “It makes me very happy to see them making strides. Just a little improvement is a big deal."
Hom is hands on, getting into the pool with Center for Autism participants to show them how to swim.
“She is our volunteer extraordinaire,” said West Essex YMCA Aquatics Director Scott Weber. “She is patient, kind and understanding. I know she is making a big difference in their lives because we can see the excited on their faces when they see her."
Hom sets up equipment in the gym each Tuesday and teaches a group of adults from ARC of Essex basics of that week’s sport.
“She keeps them happy yet maintains control,” said Weber.
He added that, at the Y’s ESL program, Hom's "patience and people skills once again come into play."
“Respectful and caring, she helps with no judgment or barriers,” said Weber. “Lu has a big heart and we are so pleased she found her way to our Y,” Weber said. “She has become a wonderful asset to all three programs and we have come to depend on her as much as the participants have come to look for her.”