How You Can Make a Difference in the Lives of Kids and Teens

A STRIDE volunteer coach Christy Pickar with her son.

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”
–Elizabeth Andrew

In today’s busy and technological world growing up isn’t always easy. Luckily, there are programs such as STRIDE, which leverage the power of running to help kids and teens build self-respect and self-confidence, and develop good judgment. These programs are offered through the YMCA of Greater Brandywine, and volunteers are making a big difference. Take it from Christy Pickar. 

A Passion for Running—and Serving

Christy has volunteered as a STRIDE coach for 12 seasons. “I got involved in STRIDE before I even realized what I was doing. I’ve been a runner forever and heard that coaches were needed for other running programs when I moved to this area,” says Christy. When she contacted the YMCA, she learned that the organization wanted to start a similar program for boys at Pocopson Elementary. Christy was thrilled, as one of her own sons was in third grade at the time. She immediately signed on to coach. That was six years ago and she has been coaching ever since.

During the 10-week program, Christy meets with the boys twice a week. She leads roundtable discussions and works with each boy to help him set goals and work to achieve them. “It is a joy to watch the boys learn to believe in themselves, and to set a goal and reach it with equal parts physical and mental training. STRIDE tells them they can do it first, then shows them how. I get to watch them learn that every day and that's something they'll have forever. It is a joy to be a part of that,” says Christy.

The Impact of a Volunteer

As a STRIDE coach, Christy embodies the mission of the YMCA. One parent shares, “STRIDE has been a blessing to our family, but it is Christy that makes it so. She leads with integrity and humor, teaches by example and encouragement and cares deeply. The children feel and know that.”

Christy received the Association Volunteer of the Year Award during the YMCA of Greater Brandywine’s Annual Volunteer Recognition Event in April. Last year, more than 3,800 volunteers of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine provided over 60,000 hours of service—that’s more than six years of time! Nothing compares to the impact a single volunteer can have in our community. They read to children in the childcare program, coach youth sports, organize food donations and more.

Are you ready to make a difference? See the impact you could have as a YMCA of Greater Brandywine Volunteer.