Flowers and Baskets; Wendy and Debbi

Photos: (Top L-R) -- Debbi Zvanut's award-winning "Nantucket Basket;"at No. Carolina Basket Weavers Convention; Wendy Fox tops the playbill at the Fulton Theater for her 80th birthday party. (Bottom, L-R) Debbi at the convention;

40th anniversary of program Debbi created for women;.Wendy took another first place at the Philadelphia Flower show.

April 2024 * View as Webpage

From the President... Len Wilson

Are you prepared to not go home again? The last 90 days have been unbelievably difficult for Joyce and me, but they have also been an awakening to a new awareness of the need to be prepared for the end of life’s journey. We have been blessed with good health, loving friends and family, and a comfortable lifestyle. But two recent events have dramatically changed my perspective and comfort level.

My older brother-in-law moved to Philadelphia to be close to Joyce about 15 years ago. About three months ago, we brought him to the hospital from where he went directly from the emergency room into acute care, hospice and then a nursing home where he passed on. He was never able to return home, and we have been called upon to make final arrangements and empty his apartment filled with collections and memorabilia. It has been a draining experience that has made us vow to be prepared in advance so as not to burden our loved ones.

The intense experience has made us aware and thankful that we have our children, friends, and advisors in our life we can count upon as we journey on, and enjoy our retirement years ahead, but it has taught us the value of being fully prepared if for one reason or another we don’t go home again. 

That reason came and was miraculously avoided recently on a wind and rainy late night stretch of I-95 when a speeding driver cut us off and crashed directly into a truck passing us on the driver’s side of our car. Somehow, we managed to avoid the hurling wreckage from both vehicles by swerving into the empty lane and avoiding other cars also swerving and piling up behind us. We almost didn’t go home again that night and we were certainly not prepared for friends and family to pick up all the bits and pieces we would have left to be sorted and finalized.

Perhaps, we are never fully prepared to deliver all the final details, but I had a longtime Y friend who provided me with an outline of his book of final instructions. His son completed all final arrangements within three days. There are numerous helping agencies and services with extremely valuable tips and insights. We owe it to those we leave behind to provide them with extensive final directives and guidelines.

I am hoping some of our chapter members have valuable tips to share, and that future editions of Clippings can provide tips and access to available resources. Let me begin that the process with an AARP article and reference to a valuable book on downsizing. Looking forward to hearing from some of you with experiences and lessons learned. Take a look below this letter.

Len Wilson, President, Central Atlantic Chapter, YMCA Alumni

Tips for retirees; An occasional article by Len Wilson

I have learned some valuable insights from AARP (the American Association of Retired Persons), and a recent article that provided advice was entitled “9 Purchases Retirees Often Regret” by Donna Fuscaldo. Readers can google the article for details on each of the following purchases to carefully consider as one enters retirement:

Read Len's article by clicking on the button below.

Read article

Join us June 20 at Glencairn Museum

Vice President of Program Nancy Gray has confirmed June 20 for our visit to the historic Glencairn Museum located in beautiful Bryn Athyn, Pa. We'll gather at Ricardo's restaurant at noon (closeby) followed by a guided tour of the museum highlights at 2:30 p.m. The admission fee is $12 per person. An email including tour description and driving directions will be sent in early May.

Lakota artists bring products to us on Etsy website

The YMCA of the Seven Council Fires, our partner in the YMCA Alumni National Service Project, has let us know about the grand opening of their Etsy shop, where they have curated a collection of unique and handcrafted items. The diverse range of products includes wall hangings, earrings, and authentic bone work jewelry, with more exciting additions to come.

What sets the Y’s Etsy shop apart is their commitment to showcasing the talent of the local South Dakota Lakota Artists. They are dedicated to supporting and promoting their incredible work, and you can expect to see their masterpieces joining our collection in the coming weeks.

Explore the rich tapestry of the offerings, from hand beaded items to paintings, each crafted with passion and precision. By purchasing from the Y’s shop, you not only acquire a one-of-a-kind piece but also contribute to the thriving artistic community of Lakota Artists.

Visit the Y’s Etsy page by clicking the button below.

Y Etsy Page

Denise Day and Lori Griener (photo left): Denise retired last June from the YMCA of Greater Brandywine after a 37-year YMCA career. She served as the CEO for the last 13 years after having enjoyed 9 years in that Y starting when it was called the YMCA of Central Chester County and YMCA of Brandywine Valley. Denise began her career in Lincoln, Neb. as a Physical Director after graduating from the University of Nebraska with an Exercise Science degree. Lori also retired in June after 36 years as an Elementary Physical Education teacher. They have been traveling ever since and enjoying the winter in Miami Beach, Fla. playing pickleball. 


Technically Denise hasn’t totally retired, as she is having a great time as the YUSA Pickleball consultant and has been helping Ys develop and enhance their pickleball programs in a strategic and intentional way. This has included developing and leading two sold-out YMCA Pickleball Director trainings and working on establishing the first YUSA Mid East Regional Pickleball Tournament to be held June 28-30 at the Upper Mainline YMCA.YUSA will be adding pickleball to the list of YMCA Championships in 2025.


Bob and Karen McDowell (photo right)


After spending his childhood involved with Hatboro YMCA programs, Bob started his Y career in 1978 as a summer lifeguard at the Hatboro Area YMCA while attending West Chester State College. After graduating in 1980, he began work as the Aquatic Director at the same Y. Over his 43-year Y career Bob worked as Physical Director, Associate Branch Director, Branch Executive Director and V.P. of Membership and Program Development at the Ambler, Roxborough, Northeast, Abington branches and the Corporate Office in the Philadelphia Association. He also served Broome County Y in N.Y. For the last 17 years, he was the CEO of the Riverbrook Regional YMCA in Wilton, Conn. He retired last December.


Bob and his wife Karen relocated from Wilton to Doylestown, Pa. They recently celebrated 40 years of marriage and have three adult children and a one-year- old grandson, Beckett. Karen retired in 2018 after a 38-year nursing career. They enjoy spending time in Sea Isle, N.J. and traveling to visit their grandson. 

They are active with their church in Harleysville, PA. Bob is Chair of the YUSA YMCA Competitive Swimming Committee and as a Public Address Swim Meet Announcer for various College Meets and the YMCA National Swim Meets. He and Karen are looking forward to reconnecting with many friends in their hometown and working alongside everyone in our YMCA Alumni chapter.

Anonymous donor tops our giving totals

Thirteen Central Atlantic Chapter members contributed $3,838.00 to EAF in 2023, There was also a $2,000 anonymous gift from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to EAF that was credited to our chapter which we are very grateful for.  This gift  makes our total $5,838 and places us at the second highest donor of the 17 Alumni Chapters. (Weatherford is #1 with $11,115.00).

Our goal for 2024 is $4,000.00. Since we can't count on another anonymous gift, it is up to us to fill in the gap. We have a lot more than 13 members so if everyone would just contribute at least $50 we could make our goal.

--Hank and Lois Van Zanten

Where in the world is Gary?

More on Wendy and Debbi

Gary Graham seems to be a wanderer at heart as he always has his hiking boots on. Gary and his family recently returned from Hawaii and, like any good YMCA professional, Gary made a visit to YMCA Honolulu Camp Erdman. Apparently, you can retire from the YMCA, but you can never actually leave.

Here are a few more details from our photo montage on top the newsletter that didn't fit in the captions.

Wendy Fox has been very busy. She is not only active in the Elverson Gargen Club, but is also a volunteer for the Philadelphia Flower Show. This year she won first place in a Stretch Arrangement in the Open Platform category. This makes the second year in a row that Wendy is a winner!  Did we mention that she is an accomplished photographer too?


Wendy's kids pulled off an epic surprise 80th birthday party for her at the Fulton Theater. Wendy and Cal were big theater fans. They took summer theater bus trips to Maine for years. So, the kids engaged the whole theater and Jeff Coon and Nicole Hackmann performed Broadway tunes while family and friends gave speeches. It was quite the evening; Wendy may still be in shock!


Deb Zvanut placed third at the North Carolina Basket Weavers Convention in March. The convention hosts over 300 weavers who take a variety of classes. Deb won in the Woven category for her Nantucket Purse.


In February, Deb attended a Women's Retreat she helped to create in 1984 when she was Director of the East Penn YMCA, a branch of the YMCA of Reading. It was formed to support women and give them a getaway weekend so they could meet others and thrive on the relationships and educational offerings. The program went independent about 20 years ago and now the proceeds support the retreat house where they meet, and four women's NGOs in Berks and Lehigh Counties.

Watch this short YouTube video and learn why you should register right away to attend YMCA Alumni's Reunion-at-Sea Jan. 27-Feb.4 on the amazing Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas. Just click away the ad, enjoy the video and then click to the button below for details and to register.


Make your travel plans with us

Adventures at a glance

Jan. 27-Feb. 4, 2024: Winter Warm-up in Caribbean

April 21-May 5, 2024: Atlantic Crossing

Aug. 2-9, 2024: Scottish Dream*

Sept. 27-Oct. 4, 2024: America's Music Cities

Jan. 27-Feb. 2: 2025: Alumni Reunion at Sea Cruise

June 17-July 3, 2025: Land of the Midnight Sun Cruise

Sept. 14-24, 2025: Majestic Canadian Rockies

*Scottish Dream is sold out.

Travel Club Info

Central Atlantic Chapter Leaders

Interim President: Len Wilson

Membership: Cathy Fromm

Programs: Nancy Gray

Secretary: Jude Gallaher

TreasurerBetteanne Kramer

Hospitality/EAF: Hank and Lois Van Zanten

World Service/ISC: Debbi Zvanut

Clippings Editor: Jude Gallaher

Special Projects:  Gary Graham

Past President: Barbara Taylor

Click on name in blue to send email.

The mission of YMCA Alumni is "to enable members to promote a nurturing worldwide Christian Fellowship that provides educational, social, service and charitable opportunities."

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