By Melanie Mizenko, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — A Dallas resident who has spent decades volunteering his time in community service to benefit children was one of four honorees Thursday at the YMCA’s 2016 Leadership Dinner.
Jay Amory was joined by over 200 people gathered in the Westmoreland Club to celebrate those who support the YMCA’s mission — a mission which that Amory, the George Brandt Community Service Award winner, said is to enable children to use the Y’s facilities. The dinner benefits the Y’s early childhood education programs.
“It’s not about me,” he said, downplaying his honor. “It’s for the kids.”
Jim Thomas, the executive director of the Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA, added that the Y’s mission is also to bring service to the community.
Amory has shown the meaning of community service through his work with the YMCA. He has been the Y’s golf tournament chairman for five years but he has been in volunteer roles for over 30 years — including volunteering for Rogers Basketball Tournament, Night at the Races fundraisers and Bernie’s Run.
“The golf outing provides campships (camp sponsorships) geared toward helping kids and families,” he said.
Amory is the fifth person to receive the community service award. In 1988, according to his YMCA biography, he won the YMCA Layperson of the Year Award.
This year’s layperson award winner was Gretchen Seidel-Sevison, of Wilkes-Barre. She said she was surprised she was voted as the winner. She explained the staff at the Y nominate then pick the overall winner. Seidel-Sevison said she had retired last year and she “wasn’t expecting” the honor to be bestowed on her.
“I’m amongst friends,” she noted.
Seidel-Sevison’s award dates back to the 1930s, Thomas said.
Thomas noted the staff at the YMCA work all summer to set up the dinner. He called nights like Thursday a way for the organization to develop a new group of friends and to showcase the organization to a new group of people.
“Most people think of us as only a gymnasium and pool,” he said. “That’s not who we are.”
Community Bank N.A. received the corporate leadership award. Bob Matley, the bank’s regional president, said the bank have been a longtime supporter of the organization.
“They do important work,” Matley said. “We’re pleased to be recognized.”
The fourth award winner, John Riccetti, of Shavertown, took home the Robert K. Mericle Leadership Award.
Riccetti has been an active member of the Wilkes-Barre YMCA’s board of directions since 2000. He said he is dedicated to the Y and their mission, showing up six or seven days a week as well as volunteering his time for many of the Y’s activities.
“It’s a joint effort,” he admits.