A girl smiling while playing during after school programs

First Friday Message


I love this time of year. The transition from spring to full-on summer, the longer days, and the permission I give myself to eat more ice cream. One of the transitions that happen this time of year is the end of the school year and the deluge of social media posts with friends sharing proud graduation moments of their child, niece/nephew, or grandchild. 

Whether we have a child or relative of our own participating in the graduation traditions or if we’re simply joining in the celebration of a young neighbor next door, we all seem to marvel at how quickly they’ve grown up and how fast the time flies

On my daughter’s last day of fourth grade this year, I couldn’t help but to think back to her very first day of elementary school. After years of guarding her every move in preschool, my wife and I were nervous wrecks as the first day of elementary school neared. We attended all of the orientations and tried to familiarize her with the new school by taking her to the playground in the days leading up to the start of school. 

When the first day of school arrived, we had our mighty five-year-old loaded up with her new backpack (it was almost as big as she was!) and lunch box, the cute first day of school outfit, and we rehearsed what she’d need to do on her own now that she was in the big kids' school. 

As we arrived at the school, parents were prepped that we would be able to escort our children to the school entrance ONLY and not walk them directly to the class. And despite all of the coaching, we were terrified that she would not know where to go at the start of the day or how to transition to the YMCA afterschool program at the end of the day. 

I will not go on and tell you how much we panicked after we dropped her off, how useless either of us was at work that day, or how we had the school leaders on alert at the end of the day because we were unsure that she knew how to get to the afterschool program. I will tell you that she was fine, she had a great first day, and she was in the YMCA program, as planned. In fact, the best memory of the day that we have is the picture of the back of her entering the school, a cute outfit with ruffled bobby socks, and never looking back for a moment as if to say “I got this!”

The transitions we see at this time of year are a celebration of the person transitioning forward in life and the next wave of leaders ascending into those spaces. 

At the Y, we have recently celebrated the bittersweet transition of beloved team members who are moving on to new challenges and long-time volunteers who have faithfully and generously served our organization for decades. We owe much of who we are to them.

But with the “graduation” of these great leaders, I am proud to welcome the next wave of team members and volunteer leaders to the front lines. It is their time now to lead and I am confident that they, too, will do so without looking back. 

Until next time…

Kevin Bolding, President & CEO
YMCA of Central Florida

The Y. For a better us.®