Well, as sad as the end of summer makes me, I must admit there is something about the days of autumn in New England. Warm sunny days followed by crisp cool nights. The hills, which as a runner really take on another meaning, become alive with vibrant colors and ignite memories of leaf pile jumping in my backyard, and the smell of homemade jellies, pickling spices and those early fall bonfires.
Some of you know that I love to grow vegetables and produce (pun intended) my own jarred delights…apple jellies, hot peppers, salsa….etc. I always feel closer to my mother, grandmother and those women that came before them as I boil the jars, prepare fruit and ultimately listen to the popping of the jars as they start to “set”. I find that this is one of the fall traditions that has become near and dear to my heart. In family, there are rituals that become a part of the culture of the family. They bring us back to simpler, happy times in our lives and help pass on the family legacy through generations. Rituals and traditions keep us grounded and give us a sense of stability in this crazy fast paced world in which we live.
The Y is just like a family with its own traditions (just play the first two notes of that oh so famous Village People song and see just how many people put their hands up over their heads in a V and start singing YMCA). These rituals and traditions connect generations of Y members.
When looking at a culture of sharing commitment to youth development, of connecting to the community, one program comes to mind…..Little Pal Basketball. Over the last six decades, tens of thousands of kids have participated in this unique youth development program. You can hear parents (and grandparents) fondly remembering that one really close game that they played in as a child, or a coach they had, who is not nearly as old as they once thought (it’s funny how that happens). The legacy of youth development through volunteerism has provided this program with passionate coaches and assistants that have helped continue the culture and love of the game. Family involvement covers decades as children grow into adults and ultimately have grandchildren to coach or cheer on.
As of Tuesday the 30th, this Y became alive again with Little Pal registrations. Several hundred children will have the opportunity to participate in this historic Naugatuck program and, if you are lucky enough to see a game, you will see just what makes this program part of the culture of this community, passion and volunteerism.
Oh, and if you happen to see Joan Andrew, our physical and devoted Little Pal director, thank her for helping to carry this uniquely Naugatuck legacy forward.
Be well and see you at the Y.