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YMCA of Greater Brandywine Celebrates Thousands of Volunteers at the Breakfast of Champions

YMCA of Greater Brandywine Celebrates Thousands of Volunteers at the Breakfast of Champions

April 29, 2024

(West Chester, PA) – The YMCA of Greater Brandywine (YGBW) recently celebrated the power of volunteers, totaling more than 78,000 hours given by 4,700 volunteers in 2023. To show their gratitude, YGBW invited volunteers to Penn Oaks Golf Club for the Breakfast of Champions, the organization’s biggest volunteer recognition event of the year.

At the event, YGBW celebrated the impact of all volunteers and bestowed honors on 12 individuals or organizations who made a significant impact in the community last year. Top honorees included Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU), Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry (CCCBI, the Chamber) and Donna Urian, Immediate Past Chair of YGBW’s Board of Directors.

Service to Youth Award | CCIU

The YMCA’s Service to Youth Award recognizes individuals and organizations whose dedication and effort have made a significant and positive difference in the lives of children in our community.

“It is challenging for many children to thrive in school alone,” explains Dr. George Fiore, Executive Director of the CCIU. “Children need more. So do families. We’re glad to be part of a supportive ecosystem of families, staff and community partners working together – all to create a brighter path for our kids.”

As the largest provider of childcare in the county, YGBW relies on services provided by CCIU – including early intervention programs for childcare and early learning students, training for Y staff and educators and talent sourcing within the CCIU’s technical high school. Annually, the CCIU serves 33,000 children across 60 school districts in Chester County and the state of Pennsylvania.

“Every day, we see children in our centers who have benefited from early intervention services the CCIU provides – and we also see the benefit of the education and training that the CCIU provides to our teachers and directors,” explains Terri Edgar, Senior VP of Branch Operations for YGBW. “I can’t think of another partner who impacts all parts of the education process more profoundly than the CCIU. We’re excited to honor them with our Service to Youth Award.”


Community Partner Award | CCCBI

The YMCA Community Partner Award is given to an organization that has demonstrated a commitment to the Y’s mission and has strengthened the foundations of our community.


“Chester County is a strong community with a wide range of businesses and a wide range of needs,” comments Heather W. Wilson, Chief Strategy & Growth Officer for YGBW. “No matter the industry, no matter the issue at hand, Laura and her team lead with a spirit of partnership – demonstrating the belief that we are stronger together. We are thrilled to honor the Chamber for the important work they do to support our community.”


CCCBI is the largest Chamber in Chester County, serving more than 500 member businesses through education, partnership and advocacy on issues impacting the local economy. Throughout 2023, the Chamber partnered with YGBW and other businesses to spotlight the inaccessibility of childcare, which negatively affects families and the economy. This childcare coalition, led by the Chamber, worked collaboratively to advocate for the expansion of the state’s Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, which was signed into law in December 2023.


“The childcare crisis is not just a family issue,” comments Laura Manion, President & CEO of the Chamber. “Employers need workers, and working families need affordable childcare. Without accessible childcare, our state economy incurs a staggering loss of $6.65 billion in revenue. The economic viability of our communities depends on addressing the childcare shortage.”


Distinguished Service Award | Donna Urian

The YMCA’s Distinguished Service Award recognizes a dedicated volunteer and emphasizes the need for community service by all members of the community. Recipients of this award have set a standard of leadership that others follow.


The 2023 honoree, Donna Urian, is a long-standing volunteer with YGBW, lending more than 11 years of service to the organization as a Committee and Policy volunteer. Urian joined YGBW’s Finance Committee in 2013 and has been an increasingly involved volunteer since that time, serving as YGBW Board Chair from January 2022 through December 2023 and currently serving as Chair of the Association’s Nominating and Governance committee. In 2023, Urian led the Executive Search to hire current President and CEO, Bertram L. Lawson II.


“I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Donna over the past ten months,” shares Lawson. “Donna has been a tremendous asset to the YMCA of Greater Brandywine. She has devoted countless hours to helping our organization grow and advance. Our association is stronger thanks to Donna’s leadership and service – as is our community.”


“It’s the mission and people that keep me coming back to serve,” Urian says. “From the members and staff to my fellow board members, I feel blessed to be included in a group of talented people – with diverse viewpoints. I leave each board meeting with a different perspective. I can’t put a price on the value of my volunteer experience.”



Volunteer of the Year Awards

Leaders from eight branches in the YGBW Association presented branch Volunteer of the Year awards to 9 exceptional volunteers. Award recipients serve many roles in the community – coaches, advisory board members, ambassadors, teachers, mentors and facility volunteers.


Honorees include Alvin Bowman, Coatesville YMCA Volunteer of the Year; Tracey Williams, Jennersville YMCA Volunteer of the Year; Glen Clendenin, Kennett Area YMCA Volunteer of the Year;  Sarittha Nandogopal, Lionville Community YMCA Volunteer of the Year, Thomas Falls, Octorara YMCA & Program Center Volunteer of the Year; Karyn Spengler, Oscar Lasko YMCA Volunteer of the Year; Hugh Algeo, Upper Main Line YMCA Volunteer of the Year; Barrett Snyder, West Chester Area YMCA Volunteer of the Year – and a special award was given to Ken Burk for his support of the swim teams at four branches across YGBW.

"The YMCA was founded on power of volunteers,” shares Laura Milazzo Mackiewicz, Director of Volunteer and Civic Engagement. “Volunteers support every corner of work that we do in our branches and out in the community. We are grateful that thousands of volunteers choose to share their time to support our programs and participants.”


Investing in Community

“Our volunteers invest in our community by giving of their time,” says Lawson. “We also want to thank our generous donors who donate in support of our mission. In 2023, we served nearly 80,000 members of the community and 12% of those folks received financial assistance for membership, swim lessons, childcare and more.”


“Every dollar donated to YGBW goes directly to our financial assistance program and ensures that members of the community have access to vital services provided by the Y. Not one cent goes to paying salaries or maintaining our facilities,” he explains.


“Last year, we awarded more than $2MM dollars in financial assistance but we only raised a little over $1MM. That can’t continue. We have big fundraising goals this year to enable us to reach more members of the community with our adaptive programs, teen mentorship, events for seniors and more – so tell your friends.”


To Donate:

About Volunteering at YGBW

About 2023 YGBW Volunteer Honorees



About the YMCA of Greater Brandywine 

The YMCA of Greater Brandywine (YGBW), an association of nine YMCAs and Program Centers serving Chester County, is a leading non-profit organization committed to building community. We strive to nurture the potential of every child, promote healthy living and foster social responsibility through life-changing programs for all. YGBW raises funds to provide financial assistance to those unable to pay the standard rates. In 2023, $2.2 million was provided to more than 11,000 individuals to ensure they had access to childcare, summer camp, programs and memberships at YGBW. More than 60,000 people are members of YGBW. To learn more, visit  


Photo Caption 1: Bertram L. Lawson II, President and CEO of YGBW, presents the YMCA Community Partner Award to Laura Manion, pictured with her newborn son, on behalf of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry.


Photo Caption 2: The team from the Chester County Intermediate Unit accepts the YMCA Service to Youth Award from Bertram L. Lawson II, President and CEO of YGBW.


Photo Caption 3: Bertram L. Lawson II, President and CEO of YGBW, presents the YMCA Distinguished Service Award to Donna Urian, Immediate Past Chair of the YGBW Board of Directors.

Additional Info

Media Contact : Katie Begandy,

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