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Arocha honored for her work at Richmond Hill YMCA
Mary Arocha and Lee Ergle
Mary Arocha (left) outgoing Richmond Hill YMCA director, receives a thank you plaque from board chairwoman Lee Ergle. Photo provided.

District Vice President Mary Arocha was honored Sept. 15 at a meeting of the Richmond Hill YMCA Board of Managers, who thanked her for 11 years of tireless work and enthusiasm.

Arocha leaves the Richmond Hill branch to lead the Liberty County, McIntosh County, and Golden Isles (Brunswick) YMCA.

Krista Phillips, formerly membership director for the West Chatham Y in Pooler, assumes the duties of Richmond Hill branch director.

According to the organization, YMCA membership is down due to COVID-19 and with a reduction in revenue, many branch and program directors have been laid off or furloughed. The vice-presidents, such as Arocha, will work harder, with more branches and responsibilities.

“This is the arrangement for now, but it may change in six months to a year,” Arocha said, “and the YMCA will bring back some of the people who have been furloughed.”

“I will greatly miss working with my friend, Mary Arocha,” said board chairwoman Lee Ergle. “She is the face of our Y in the Richmond Hill community. It will be hard for us to rebrand our Y, but we wish Mary the best, as all of the branches work to rebuild and fill the needs of our communities.”

The Richmond Hill YMCA has 60 percent of its membership back and active again, according to Ergle. “Mary says we’ve taken cleanliness past the CDC guidelines with cleaning the equipment by a staff member after each use, and with closing down the Y midday for cleaning. All Y’s greet their members at the door with hand sanitizer, a thermometer check, and a series of questions.”

The all-time high for membership units at the Richmond Hill YMCA was 1,500-1,800, Ergle said. The current facility on Thunderbird Drive was opened in October 2009 with 250 members.

One by one, board members went around the table to express their thanks to Arocha.

“Quality leadership, innovative ideas and a people person,” is how board member Steve Scholar described Arocha. “Steward of the community and beloved by many. She will be missed.”

“Mary brings a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and a desire to be as positive of an influence on the local YMCA branch and her team during this time of uncertainty,” said Chris Barr, finance director. “With her continued guidance and leadership through the years, the Richmond Hill YMCA branch is on a solid foundation for growth to better serve the residents of Bryan County.”

Vice-chairman William Gaines added, “When I think of the YMCA, I see Mary’s face. She had been so dedicated to this branch, and we are sad to see her go. However, we know she will continue to do great things.”

Arocha says the YMCA of Coastal Georgia has a strategic plan to get back to where they were. A pilot program begins this week at the Habersham Y in Savannah with virtual class experiences for group fitness, using fitness instructors from all branches.

The Liberty County YMCA has aquatics programs and a large before and after school care program in eight schools. Each site is licensed for as many as 260 children, but due to COVID-19, the limit is 50 children for each site.

“I love this Y,” Arocha concluded. “I have a heart for it. I feel like a part of me is missing when I drive away. We have done so much over the years. I feel like we accomplished impossible things with God’s blessings.”


Mary Arocha
Mary Arocha is all smiles, holding her going away cake. Photo provided.
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