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Volunteers Build Resilient Communities

Volunteers Build Resilient Communities

International Volunteer Day takes place every year on December 5th. Founded by the United Nations, it’s a global celebration of volunteers and shines a light on the impact of volunteer efforts around the world.

At the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka our volunteers are at the heart of everything we do. They bring an abundance of energy, joy and enthusiasm to our programs and help make the Y the safe, inclusive and diverse place that it is. As a cause-driven organization, volunteerism is a fundamental value within the Y. Because of our volunteers, we are able to strengthen our community with the help of our dedicated youth, families, and individuals who share our passion. They give their time, resources, and talents because they know they can improve the lives of others while enhancing their own lives through the Y.

This year, over 600 individuals volunteered across Simcoe/Muskoka, and 80 per cent do so by instructing or supporting physical fitness programs. In order to support growth in mind, body and spirit, the Y ensures that training is extended to volunteers, so they may support others. Beyond fitness, volunteers from many other facets of the Y also donate their time in the areas of child care, camp, employment services, operations, child and youth programs, philanthropy and on our board of directors.

The Y is truly fortunate to have such a dedicated group of volunteers who represent the diversity in our community. Our volunteers come from all ages and stages of life including students looking to gain work experience and retirees who have volunteered for years.

Harold Zukerman – Giving Back to Our Community for Over 30 Years

In recognition of International Volunteer Day, I would like to shine the spotlight on an extraordinary YMCA volunteer whose skills, patience, sense of inclusion, and commitment have impacted our community in so many ways. At the age of 92, Harold Zukerman has been volunteering at the Collingwood YMCA for 33 years. He is somebody who embodies the mission, vision and values of the Y in everything he does. Harold teaches weekly classes to seniors at the Collingwood Y and on January 14th, he is starting a new seniors program called On the Move: Barre Balance.

Over the years Harold has given back to his community through fundraising campaigns, as a thoughtful leader on the YMCA board, and as an inspiring and dedicated fitness instructor who pioneered the popular YMCA On the Move senior fitness class.

When asked how, at his age, he still manages to volunteer in his community every day he says, “The Y is a part of my life and it keeps me active. Knowing that it helps our community in so many ways and that that the people who work there are so dedicated, makes me want to contribute as much as I can. Giving back feels great and keeps me young in mind, body and spirit.”

Harold also volunteers at the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital and in 2014, was recognized for his volunteer efforts with the Order of Collingwood. Read more about Harold here.

We are very proud of and grateful to Harold Zukerman and all our YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka volunteers.  Their vision, passion and dedication have made a significant contribution to the development of stronger and healthier communities across Simcoe/Muskoka. Without our volunteers, we could not do the work that we do everyday to help our communities thrive. We are truly grateful for their efforts.


Rob Armstrong is President and CEO of the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka; focused on investing in communities, ensuring all people have access to the Y and implementing programs that are helping thousands of youth and families to learn and thrive. Prior to joining the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka in 2011, Rob held senior leadership positions at the YMCA of Edmonton, YMCA of Owen Sound, YMCA of Cambridge and most recently YMCA Ontario. Rob holds an Honours degree in Physical and Health Education from Queen’s University and has since augmented his education with advanced courses from the Harvard Business School of Entrepreneurship, Ivy School of Business and Queen’s University Executive Education Program.

Since coming to Simcoe/Muskoka, Rob has taken an active leadership role in the Child, Youth and Family Services Coalition of Simcoe County and Barrie’s Pathways to end homelessness. He served on a number of boards including local Community Foundations, Affordable Housing, Parks and Recreation Ontario and the Minister of Health Promotions Health Advisory Committee.

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