Hello Members and Friends –
The coronavirus is touching every single part of the world and although we are, as Americans, by no means exempt from the realities of illness and death and financial hardship, we are fortunate to be weathering this pandemic in our country. I recently came across early NYA documents and they reminded me that NYA’s (originally established as the Newtown Youth Academy) origin is rooted heavily in the appreciation of and gratitude for our country and the opportunity available to nearly every citizen that marks a free society. It is fitting to revisit NYA’s story and the organizational values it was founded on and continues to hold that are as relevant now as ever.
Peter D’amico, NYA’s founder, was guided by the example and principles of his parents—Italian immigrants who came to America for the opportunity it provided. Through his parents, Peter developed ethics around, “hard work, dedication, and self-reliance,” as he stated in his speech at NYA’s Grand Opening on November 1st, 2008. Realizing the American Dream himself, Peter’s humble beginnings inspired him to pay it forward by establishing and financing NYA. “My dream for the Academy is to see children playing sports, adults getting healthier, but most importantly, I long to see a community coming together to enjoy what we have built.” As a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, the organization’s mission was also outlined that day – “NYA will offer everyone a wealth of opportunities – programs that include fitness, health, nutrition, stress management, positive thinking, living green, and many more. The board and staff are excited that our programs will go beyond the physical realm and touch the whole person, the mind and spirit.”
Over the last 11 years, that vision has been manifested in many ways. The mission reads a little differently, but the core and essence are the same. NYA has established itself as a consistent resource for the community, especially in times of need. The diverse population that passes through our doors every day brings the spirit of youthful exuberance and seasoned wisdom – at the same time. A strong commitment to youth, veterans, and those with special needs has been formed. And the genuine support by the staff and volunteers to not only aid people on their fitness journey, but bring them into an environment that fosters the growth of one’s overall well-being is undeniable.
Peter also noted in that speech in 2008 that, “we ALL have the responsibility to do our part – to reach out and give our time and talent for the benefit of our community and our country.” It is now more important than ever that we ALL need to draw on these beliefs to help our community, country, and world get through these times. It has been a beautiful thing to see countless examples of this taking place all around us: the essential and healthcare workers who are constantly putting themselves at risk and showing-up for the rest of us; government leaders who are working tirelessly to find ways to keep us safe while softening the economic blow – a seemingly impossible task; the parents and educators who are learning on the fly to ensure our kids are getting what they need to continue to learn and grow; businesses and organizations that are adjusting to offer their services “at a distance,” often free or discounted; and people just plain ‘ol spreading love, positivity, and encouragement through signs, messages, and random acts of kindness. Maintaining this mindset is imperative as we prepare to emerge from a world of quarantine and begin the long road of recovery. As Peter said on opening day in 2008: “We citizens must come together for the benefit of our community. We must be less self-indulgent and reach out to do things for others.” Little did we know then that such generosity of spirit and service to others would be the very thing that would enable us to weather and prevail over a global pandemic.
Stay active and be well!
Yours in good health,
Ian Yorty Executive Director