LYNNFIELD — Local community leaders and four students were honored for their commitment to the mission and values of the YMCA of Metro North during the organization’s annual meeting Thursday morning at Spinelli’s.
A Healthy Lynnfield (AHL) was named Community Partner of the Year in recognition of its work in raising awareness about teen mental health and substance use disorders. State Secretary of Education Patrick Tutwiler received the inaugural Youth Development Champion of the Year Award in honor of his work as superintendent of Lynn Public Schools. E. Seavey Bowdoin received the Ethel Leonard Service Award for his dedication to and volunteerism at the Melrose YMCA.
Saugus’s Katie Bradbury, Melrose’s Casey Duggan, and Lynn’s Arsema Gebreyesus and Aidan George received Y Champion scholarships in the amount of $500 each.
A Healthy Lynnfield Program Director Peg Sallade and A Healthy Lynnfield Chair and founder Phil Crawford said it was an honor to be recognized by YMCA of Metro North.
“Our mission to help young people make healthy decisions and reduce substance use is so connected to the mission of the YMCA,” said Sallade. “We have partnered in so many ways over the years, and it’s an honor to be recognized by such a phenomenal organization and their dedicated staff and leadership.”
“The YMCA of Metro North has been a great partner from the beginning,” said Crawford. “We are very honored to receive this award and look forward to many more years of partnership with the YMCA of Metro North. Receiving this honor validates the work that A Healthy Lynnfield is doing to raise awareness and help people who need it.”
Founded in 2017 in response to the growing opioid crisis, AHL engages various partners in the community to help prevent substance misuse.
Sallade said AHL has collaborated with the YMCA throughout the years on many initiatives to help kids and families with mental health and substance-use issues. Most recently, AHL provided mental health and first-aid training for the afterschool staff “so that people who work with kids have the skills they need.”
“The Torigian YMCA sits on our coalition and absolutely the Y has such a broad reach in the work they do across the North Shore and that shows the depth and breadth of the people and organizations that support their work,” Sallade said.
“Outstanding partners like A Healthy Lynnfield amplify our work and the impact we have on youth and teens in our community,” says Metro North President and CEO Kathleen Walsh, a resident of Lynnfield. “Mental health supports are so critical to the wellness of our kids, and organizations like A Healthy Lynnfield are leading the way by providing education, resources, and training.”
Bowdoin’s association with the Melrose YMCA began years ago when he attended the Y’s day camp and took swimming lessons as a child.
When asked why he volunteers his time and also donates, Bowdoin said “The Y substantially contributes to the wellbeing of the community … and is a worthwhile organization.”
“There are lots of worthy causes in the world. I like seeing the direct impact of the donation,” Bowdoin said. “If you give, say $1,000, that means two kids can go to camp that might not have been able to. You can see the tangible benefits.”
In his speech, Tutwiler lifted up the importance of community partnerships that bring organizations together to focus on creating positive outcomes for youth.
“Many of our youth and teen members are students at the Lynn Public Schools, so (the Youth Development Champion of the Year Award) was founded this year as a special award for Dr. Tutwiler,” said YMCA of Metro North Vice President Sandy St. Louis. “We are honored that he (accepted) the award at our annual meeting.”
Bradbury will attend the University of Massachusetts Lowell and study nursing. Duggan is headed to Montana State University to pursue business. Gebreyesus will study computer science and computer justice at Northeastern. George will study biomedical engineering at UMass Lowell.
A 50-year resident of Lynnfield, Leonard worked at the Association School of Adult Education at the Boston YMCA. She was active in Town Meeting, Friends of the Lynnfield Library, the Lynnfield High School Band Boosters, and the Girl Scouts as a troop leader. She also held many positions with the Lynnfield Centre Congregational Church.
Leonard served six years on the building committee for the Peabody/Lynnfield YMCA, now the Torigian YMCA, and was a member of the Y’s Board of Directors for nine years.
In 2015, she received the inaugural Ethel Leonard Service Award, which was established in her name. She was a member of the Brooksby Village Protestant Faith Community Missions Committee for 18 years, retiring only a few weeks before her death in February 2023 at the age of 101.