NEWBERRY — Eric Nelson liked what he saw when he came to Newberry’s YMCA.
After his initial visit and job prospecting, he landed the job as the Newberry YMCA’s executive director. That was May 7, 2012.
“Newberry is a great opportunity to stay close (to my family) and offered a real experience and opportunity to be a CEO of a YMCA,” said Nelson, who said this is his first time directing a Y.
“In Georgia, I worked with small communities — Hartwell, Toccoa, Tifton — all the small communities were my Y. That gave me a passion for small communities and small YMCAs,” said Nelson. “I was looking for a small close-knit community.”
Nelson took over the position after long-time director Jerry Coffey retired.
Nelson has 35 years experience working with the YMCA which includes full-time and part-time positions. In the past he’s worked with Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Nashville, Tenn., Greenville and Spartanburg, to name a few.
His journey began after he graduated from Ithaca College in New York where he studied recreation management and business.
“I was offered a job at a Y in Ohio. I was offered a job as a youth program director 32 years ago,” said Nelson.
As for what has kept Nelson with the YMCA, he said he enjoys interacting with everyone and being a part of an organization that is greater than himself.
“I have the opportunity to see results of what the Y can do for kids and families. I like being a part of an organization that is so much bigger than me. It’s not about me. I have a great staff and great board members. Being a part of that has given me great pleasure,” said Nelson, who described the YMCA as being “community driven.”
“That’s what attracted me to Newberry,” said Nelson. “The Newberry YMCA is a staple of the community and that’s important. The Y has a lot of significance in the community.”
Since Nelson has come on board as director, he’s also implemented a few changes although much of the Y is still what Coffey and other leaders instilled.
“I think I’ve been able to bring a new excitement. That allows me to continue what Jerry started,” said Nelson.
Also Nelson has allowed memberships to more well rounded.
“We’ve done several things — we’ve made memberships all inclusive. You don’t pay for separate classes because the classes are all inclusive,” said Nelson. “Child care is available while you work out.”
New equipment has also been purchased.
Nelson and the Y staff also are in the middle of a campaign to raise $35,000 which he says will help ensure that children and families who want to work out at the Y are not turned away and can receive some sort of support.
That goes along with the community aspect of the Newberry Y, he said.
Something else that is still being developed is having the Y and corporations team up so employees have access to the Y at a discounted rate.