Brian Sullivan: YMCA leader will celebrate his 10th year
PITTSFIELD -- It’s an anniversary of note. City native Randy Kinnas will celebrate 10 years of being the executive director of the Pittsfield Family YMCA on July 5. And there’s still work to be done, said Kinnas, who was a 1989 Pittsfield High graduate and hardwood standout who played under coach Dave Harte. That’s 25 years since he left the Dome, yet another milestone for the fellow in charge of the facility on the corner of North and Melville streets.
"I can remember that first day on the job," said Kinnas, who had his start with the YMCA in Connecticut before returning to his native city. "I went upstairs to the fitness center and let’s just say that it wasn’t necessarily conducive to our members. Things were sort of pushed into a corner. That was one of the first things I changed."
The past decade has seen many upgrades at the YMCA, Kinnas said, and there are more to come. He mentioned child care and the fitness center as two bright points of light that have been reworked and improved.
"The child care workers, in particular," he said, "have what I call a better setting in which to do their job. We watch our budget closely, day to day if you will. And we have a great board of directors. We all seem to be on the same page."
It might be summer vacation for the city’s students, but Kinnas noted that the current membership at the facility is pretty consistent throughout the year and that there’s no real decline in activity despite the better weather. The veteran members of the YMCA are pretty reliable, Kinnas said, and are a group he’s counted on over the years.
"Obviously we are always trying to get new members," he said. "The goal is to get new members and maintain them as members."
The offerings at the YMCA are varied, said Kinnas, who added "we can be more than just gym and a swim. But we understand that for some people that’s what we are."
One thing the Pittsfield YMCA is not, is just for adults. With more than 1,000 youth memberships and an active summer camp located at Berkshire Community College -- the location may have changed over the years but it’s still called Camp Summer -- the kids do well by the local facility.
The YMCA is deeply invested into a children’s literacy program this summer, making this the third year it’s been a primary directive. The children, as usual, will have use of the outdoor pool at BCC and be involved with other in-the-sun athletic endeavors, but taking time to read also will be part of the agenda.
It’s an element to the summer camp in which Kinnas believes.
"We’re trying to prevent what people call that summer slide," said Kinnas, who added it’s no secret that young students who lose academic focus during the summer begin the following school year facing an uphill climb.
"This coming year we’re going to have some statistical feedback on the literacy program," Kinnas said. "We’re excited about that and hopeful that it will be good news."
Regarding his Melville Street neighbor, the Boys & Girls Club, Kinnas admitted there’s an overlap and that to some degree the two facilities compete for the same kids. But that distinction is hardly severe and the youth in the city make good use of both buildings.
The perception, however, that the Boys & Girls Club is for children and the YMCA is for adults is misplaced, Kinnas said, and stems from a time when perhaps that statement was more true than it is presently.
With us since 1905, the Pittsfield Family YMCA remains a North Street and city staple. It certainly jump-started Pittsfield, as it boasted more than 1,500 memberships by 1915. Current membership is nearly 3,000.
Under the guidance and leadership of Kinnas, there’s no reason to think it won’t continue along that successful path.
Brian Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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