Blog Post

6 Secrets for Cultivating Charity at Home

If you have children, chances are there’s a bit more stuff in your house now that the holidays are over. Perhaps concerns of materialism are lingering in the back of your mind as you survey the bounty of new toys and gadgets your children have received.

There are simple ways you can model charitable behavior and teach your children to be altruistic, which in turn can help build their self-esteem, teach them the importance of community involvement and give them a greater appreciation for the things they have in their lives.

Here are a few ideas to help your children get started down the right path:

  1. Talk about giving. Discuss the importance of helping others and how good it feels to make a meaningful contribution. Share why The Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA and other favorite charitable organizations are important to you, and ask your children what causes interest them.
  2. Give your children an allowance. Teach your children about money and helping others by giving them an allowance and dividing it three ways: one to spend, one to save and one to give to a charity of their choice.
  3. Show them the need. Visit charities that your children are interested in supporting. Read books about other cultures, or talk about the news and the problems others face around the world. This gives your children a more personal connection to the people and causes that will benefit from their gift.
  4. Let them choose. Allow your children to select an organization or program that they want to support. Ask them why they opted for that charity. You may be pleasantly surprised by the sensitivity of their selections.
  5. Provide an update. At regular intervals, discuss how the organization used their donations. Ask if they wish to support the same charity or a different one, and talk about other ways they might be able to help, such as volunteering.
  6. Match your children’s generosity. Children learn by watching you, and one way you can help encourage their passion for causes that are important to them is to match their gifts to their selected organizations.

Grow the Seeds of Generosity

Once you’ve planted the idea of giving in your children, we can help you nurture and grow their charitable spirits. Contact Danny Carroll at or 757.223.7925 ext 203 to talk about ways that you and your family can support The Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA.

March 1, 2017 Rappahannock Record

KILMARNOCK—The Northern Neck Family YMCA recently named Anita Mergener volunteer of the year.

“Ms. Mergener believes what the Guardian Program of our YMCA does for people is ‘magical.’ To offer opportunity, wellness and safe child care to our community is the work of the YMCA,” said branch executive Mark Favazza.

During 2016, Mergener chaired the Festival of Tress committee and helped the YMCA raise funds to touch the lives of over 1,500 children, adults and families, said Favazza. Her organizational skills, her enthusiasm and her commitment to helping people make her a blessing to the YMCA.

“Her leadership is a great example for all our volunteers and donors,” he said. “We are a better YMCA because of Anita Mergener.”

Teen volunteer of the year was awarded to Alyson Vanlandingham.

“Alyson’s first volunteer experience was working with Bright Beginnings. As a passionate and caring individual, she always puts the needs of others first,” said Favazza.

Vanlandingham helps with fundraising events, works with school-age children every week and plans to continue her education in social work. During her time at the YMCA, she has become an excellent role model for all ages, he continued. She understands and displays all of the character values through her work.

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. Downloaded 2/23/2017 from

Meditation and positive imagery are tools to reduce stress. Let’s try some food imagery: Picture a plate with bright green spinach topped with caramel-colored crunchy nuts, moist chunks of lean poultry, and bright orange and red dried fruit. Alongside this beautiful salad, you have a golden brown whole-grain roll and a cool refreshing glass of milk. Top this off with a bit of dark chocolate for dessert. Have I lulled you into a peaceful state of mind?

Can what you eat affect your mood? Can your diet be part of the equation to reduce stress? Possibly. Take a moment to think about what you eat and how it makes you feel.

Omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, tryptophan, folate and other B vitamins, low glycemic foods, and chocolate have all been studied to assess their impact on mood. The results are mixed but seem to show an association — though not a direct link — between these foods and improved mood.

Of course, these nutrients and foods are part of a healthy diet. And when you eat a healthy diet, your body reaps the benefits. For example, when you eat fruits, starchy vegetables and whole grains throughout the day you keep your body fueled and your blood sugar level on an even keel. And you’re getting vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Combining carbohydrates and proteins enhances the availability of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter said to have a calming effect and to play a role in sleep.

In addition, simply knowing you are taking care of yourself can boost your mood. And we’re all familiar with the power of comfort foods. For example, drinking a glass of milk before bedtime can trigger a comforting memory of your childhood.

Now, think of the foods and behaviors you associate with a stressed-out lifestyle. Do you see someone who is sleep-deprived, gulping down caffeine and shoveling in fast food while on the run? Can you also picture the vicious circle at work here? Stress leads to sleeping less, which leads to reaching for caffeine and sugar for a fix, which is followed by a crash and need for another fix. Add to that skipping regular meals and exercise and maybe using alcohol to unwind. Alcohol and lack of exercise contribute to poor sleep. And so the cycle continues. We know that this way of eating doesn’t make us feel good physically or mentally.

What we do know is that regular exercise can break the cycle because exercise is a great stress reducer, just as meditation and positive imagery are. So if you are a stress-eater and you do not exercise regularly, the Y is here to help. Just ask us!

The YMCA employs experts in the field of health & fitness. All of our locations have certified personal trainers, group exercise, and wellness center instructors, who are available to help guide, coach, support and inspire your journey to a healthy lifestyle. We’ve selected these articles and wellness tips for your healthy heart and a happier you. Enjoy.

March is National Nutrition Month

The Food and Mood Connection

Healthy Eating for Healthy Weight 

12 New Ways to Eat Leafy Greens

Healthy Weight Loss

Downloaded February 2015. Source:

While there are plenty of ways to lose weight, maintaining your weight loss over the long term is often unsuccessful. If you’ve lost and found the same pounds several times before, it’s probably time to go back to the basics of a healthy weight:

  • Prevention of weight gain or stopping recent weight gain can improve your health.
  • Health can improve with relatively minor weight reduction (5 percent to 10 percent of body weight).
  • Adopting a healthy lifestyle – eating smarter and moving more – can improve your health status even if you don’t lose any weight at all.

If you want to maintain a healthy weight for the rest of your life, it’s all about energy balance.

Here are three basic steps for success:

Make Smart Choices from Every Food Group

Your body needs the right fuel for your hectic, stress-filled schedule. The best way to get what you need is to enjoy a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods that are packed with energy, protein, vitamins and minerals from all the MyPlate food groups.

Where can you find these smart choices? When you go shopping, look to the four corners of your supermarket:

  • Fruits and vegetables from the produce aisles
  • Whole grains from the bakery
  • Low-fat milk products from the dairy case
  • Lean proteins from the meat/fish/poultry department

Here’s an easy way to eat more produce: Enjoy one fruit and one vegetable as a snack each day. It’s quick, easy, tasty, and very nutrient-rich.

Get the Most Nutrition from Your Calories

The biggest nutrition challenge for most Americans is posed by high-fat, high-sugar foods and drinks, such as snack foods, candies and sugary drinks. Eating smarter does not mean you have to immediately go sugar-free and fat-free. You can make a big difference in your calorie intake by just eating and drinking smaller portions and by making empty calorie choices less often.

The key is to moderate, not eliminate. Watching portion sizes is an easy way to cut back without cutting out. If you want to cut back on sugar, drink water instead of sugary drinks and eat desserts less often.

Balance Food and Physical Activity

What you eat is just one part of the energy balance equation. The other is your physical activity. Most of us take in more calories than we spend on our daily activities.

Finding a healthier balance means fitting more activity into your day. The minimum for good health is 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day. To reach a healthy weight, you may need to be physically active longer (60 minutes a day) or participate in more intense activities. How much activity do you usually get now? If it’s only 15 minutes, try adding a 15- or 20-minute walk during your lunch break.

The YMCA suggests you check with your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to begin your exercise plan.

Leafy greens include: Spinach, Kale, Chard, Arugula, Turnip & Mustard Greens, Broccoli, Cabbage, Lettuces and more!

Look up recipes using leafy green ingredients on


  1. Bring them to breakfast
  2. Sneak into smoothies
  3. Toss into pasta
  4. Use as a wrap
  5. Pile onto pizza
  6. Put in a potato
  7. Stack onto sandwiches
  8. Add to appetizers
  9. Mix into stir-fry
  10. Stir into soup
  11. Bake into chips
  12. Pack into pesto


These foods are high in fiber, antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, and have a variety of vitamins and minerals.

  1. Assorted beans
  2. Avocado
  3. Blueberries
  4. Broccoli
  5. Carrots
  6. Cranberries
  7. Salmon
  8. Spinach
  9. Strawberries
  10. Whole grain breads

Adopted from the article at:

A healthy lifestyle involves many choices. Among them, choosing a balanced diet or healthy eating plan. So how do you choose a healthy eating plan? Let’s begin by defining what a healthy eating plan is.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, a healthy eating plan:

  • Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
  • Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
  • Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars
  • Stays within your daily calorie needs

Eat Healthfully and Enjoy It!

A healthy eating plan that helps you manage your weight includes a variety of foods you may not have considered. If “healthy eating” makes you think about the foods you can’t have, try refocusing on all the new foods you can eat—

  1. Fresh, Frozen, or Canned Fruits ― don’t think just apples or bananas. All fresh, frozen, or canned fruits are great choices. Be sure to try some “exotic” fruits, too. How about a mango? Or a juicy pineapple or kiwi fruit! When your favorite fresh fruits aren’t in season, try a frozen, canned, or dried variety of a fresh fruit you enjoy. One caution about canned fruits is that they may contain added sugars or syrups. Be sure and choose canned varieties of fruit packed in water or in their own juice.
  2. Fresh, Frozen, or Canned Vegetables ― try something new. You may find that you love grilled vegetables or steamed vegetables with an herb you haven’t tried like rosemary. You can sauté (panfry) vegetables in a non-stick pan with a small amount of cooking spray. Or try frozen or canned vegetables for a quick side dish — just microwave and serve. When trying canned vegetables, look for vegetables without added salt, butter, or cream sauces. Commit to going to the produce department and trying a new vegetable each week.
  3. Calcium-rich foods ― you may automatically think of a glass of low-fat or fat-free milk when someone says “eat more dairy products.” But what about low-fat and fat-free yogurts without added sugars? These come in a wide variety of flavors and can be a great dessert substitute for those with a sweet tooth.
  4. A new twist on an old favorite ― if your favorite recipe calls for frying fish or breaded chicken, try healthier variations using baking or grilling. Maybe even try a recipe that uses dry beans in place of higher-fat meats. Ask around or search the internet and magazines for recipes with fewer calories ― you might be surprised to find you have a new favorite dish!

Do I have to give up my favorite comfort food?

No! Healthy eating is all about balance. You can enjoy your favorite foods even if they are high in calories, fat or added sugars. The key is eating them only once in a while, and balancing them out with healthier foods and more physical activity.

Some general tips for comfort foods:

  1. Eat them less often. If you normally eat these foods every day, cut back to once a week or once a month. You’ll be cutting your calories because you’re not having the food as often.
  2. Eat smaller amounts. If your favorite higher-calorie food is a chocolate bar, have a smaller size or only half a bar.
  3. Try a lower-calorie version. Use lower-calorie ingredients or prepare food differently. For example, if your macaroni and cheese recipe uses whole milk, butter, and full-fat cheese, try remaking it with non-fat milk, less butter, light cream cheese, fresh spinach and tomatoes. Just remember to not increase your portion size.

The YMCA is here to help and is the perfect place to begin, re-commit, or continue your exercise routine to keep a healthy body weight. We’re friendly, smart, caring, and excited to work with you on your health goals. Our certified personal trainers, group exercise instructors, and wellness center instructors can design, lead, and suggest classes that best suit your wellness needs. And all YMCA staffs are CPR and first aid certified.

Here at the Y we have classes and programs that burn calories and will get your pulse racing. We have a long list of choice classes like Group Cycling, RIPPED, Zumba, Turbo Kick, Water Exercise and many more on land or in the water* (*at selected locations) so you can find the classes that suit you best — high-intensity & high impact to low-intensity & low impact — we have classes for all fitness levels. And our expert wellness center instructors and personal trainers can design a personalized cardio and/or strength training program just for you. We even have nutrition consultations at some locations.

The YMCA suggests you check with your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to begin your exercise plan.

Downloaded 2/17/2017 from

By Reema AminContact Reporter

The Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA announced Thursday night that it would rename its Warwick Boulevard location in Newport News after Tom and Ann Hunnicutt, whose family has worked with the organization for the past 70 years.

The sign has already been changed to read Tom and Ann Hunnicutt Family YMCA, said Melanie Erickson, spokeswoman for the Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA.

The announcement was a surprise and was made after Tom Hunnicutt III accepted the Social Responsibility award during the YMCA’s annual banquet dinner at the Marriott at City Center.

“There wasn’t a plan to rename it; it’s really to honor the Hunnicutt family,” Erickson said. “We wanted (Tom) to be aware of what his legacy is.”

Hunnicutt, who is the CEO of Pembroke Stone Mart in Hampton, accepted the award after a video that highlighted his work with the YMCA since 1965. He was elected in 1965 to the board of directors of then-Newport News YMCA, which later became the Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA. He served as president in 1970, following his father, Dr. T. N. Hunnicutt Jr., who had the same position in 1946.

“Over 70 years between he and his father, serving our YMCA,” said Danny Carroll, the CEO of the Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA.

In 1977, the Hunnicutt family donated the track at the Newport News location on Warwick Boulevard as part of a $407,000 renovation of the facility, which brought the Adult Fitness Center and three more racquetball courts.

After the Hampton branch was opened, Hunnicutt became the first chairman of its board. In 1983, he was elected as the first president of the Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA board, Erickson said.
In 1995, after his one-year tenure as the Peninsula president, Hunnicutt was named as the chairman of a $2.4 million fundraising campaign to build an indoor pool at the Hampton branch.

Both Tom and Ann Hunnicutt said Tuesday that they were “completely surprised” by the announcement. “To be a part of the YMCA organization for years and watching it grow under Danny’s leadership — that is all I need, and this was the topping on the cake,” Tom Hunnicutt said after the banquet.

Hunnicutt has been honored by several other organizations. He received the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Citizen Award in 1998, the Distinguished Citizen Award from the city of Hampton in 1994, Peninsula Sales & Marketing Outstanding Business Leader in 1993 and the “Four Star Award” from the Military Affairs Council of the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce in 1992.

Amin can be reached by phone at 757-247-4890.
Copyright © 2017, Daily Press

Downloaded 2/20/2017 from:

By Dave Ramont
The first YMCA in America opened in Boston in 1851—seven years after the organization’s founding in London—with one of their original tenets being physical fitness. In 1891, Canadian James Naismith went to Springfield, Mass., to become the physical education teacher at the YMCA International Training School there. That winter, his boss—Dr. Luther Gulick—tasked him with creating an indoor game to provide an athletic distraction for his rowdy class that was confined indoors due to the harsh winter. Gulick wanted to keep his track athletes in shape, and instructed Naismith to “make it fair for all players and not too rough.”

Naismith considered the popular games of the time—soccer, football, rugby, lacrosse, hockey and baseball. He decided a big, soft ball was safest, and that a focus on passing the ball would minimize physical contact. He also thought that making the goals un-guardable would reduce body contact. So he hung a peach basket at each end of the gym, about 10 feet off the floor. He christened his game “Basket Ball,” posted his original 13 basic rules on a bulletin board, and in December 1891 the first game was played, with a nine-versus-nine player format.

The first game featured a lot of punching, tackling and kicking—resulting in black eyes, a separated shoulder and one player being knocked unconscious. Naismith tweaked some of the rules—particularly that there could now be no running with the ball—which dramatically decreased the tackling and punching, making the sport much safer. Dribbling the ball wasn’t introduced until later.

By 1892 the game had become very popular on campus, and other Ys started to incorporate it, with the game being introduced internationally by the YMCA movement in 1893. The Trenton, N.J., YMCA team claimed to be National Champs in 1896 after beating other Y and college teams. That same year the Trenton team charged admission for a game at a Masonic Temple, keeping the proceeds and giving birth to professional basketball. Naismith took a job at the University of Kansas in 1898, starting a basketball program there. By the turn of the century, there were enough college teams in the East that the first official intercollegiate games could be played. Basketball was a demonstration sport at the 1904 Summer Olympics, and was officially introduced into the Olympic program at the 1936 Berlin games, with a 74-year old Naismith in attendance.

Kevin Washington, president and CEO of YMCA of the USA, believes that Dr. Naismith would be amazed at what his simple game has become 125 years later. “Thanks to his imagination, what started with two peach baskets has evolved into one of the most popular games in the world. The Y is proud to be part of basketball’s living legacy,” Washington said.

There are 2,700 YMCAs across the United States, with most locations still offering basketball and other sports programs in their gymnasiums.

The Ultimate Insider’s Guide

There’s nothing quite like a milestone birthday to get us reflecting on where we’ve been and where we’d like to go in the future.

Life might look a bit different than it did just a few years ago when you were finishing your education and beginning your career. Perhaps now you own a house and have started accumulating valuable assets. Your household may include pets and children or college-age students. You might also be setting philanthropic goals for yourself, so it’s time to create a plan that protects the important people and priorities in your life.

Here are the first steps to take:

  1. Create a will. If you haven’t yet created a will, the time to do so is right now. This is one of the most important documents you can have to protect your loved ones and their financial future. Writing a will lets you control your legacy and how your assets will be distributed after your lifetime, including any charitable gifts you wish to make to The Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA. If you pass away without a will, these important decisions are made by the state where you lived.

    Insider Tip:

    If you have already created a will, this is a good time to review it to make sure it still meets your needs. If you’ve experienced any of the following events, you might need to update your will:A new marriage or divorce, including your own or your children’s
    The birth of a child or grandchild
    The death of a family member
    A move to another state
    A new or growing relationship with a charitable cause
  2. Assign roles. Part of creating your will is naming a guardian for any minor children in your care, as well as your executor, who oversees how your assets are distributed after your lifetime. Talk to the people you would like to assume these important roles to make sure they are willing to accept the responsibilities. Part of your discussion should include your values and philanthropic vision so that they know what is important to you.

    Insider Tip:
    Your executor holds an important job, and if you don’t have a relative or close friend you trust to handle the duties, you can name a bank or trust company as your executor for a fee. Many banks have experience administering estates, a common practice for larger estates.You should also consider who you will name as agents in your powers of attorney for health care and financial matters. These should be people you trust to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
  3. Review your beneficiary designations. Make sure you have named beneficiaries of your life insurance policy and retirement and bank accounts, and review them after any major life changes, such as marriages, divorces, births and deaths. For example, if you fail to remove a former spouse as a beneficiary before you pass away, he or she could receive that asset, even if you are remarried to someone else.

    Insider Tip:
    Want to disinherit the government? Name The Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA as the beneficiary of your retirement account.If you leave these assets to your loved ones, the distributions are subject to income taxes based on your heirs’ ordinary income tax rate. But thanks to our tax-exempt status, we can bypass federal taxes and put 100 percent of your gift directly toward our mission.
  4. Organize your paperwork. Once you have created and updated the various documents detailed above, don’t put them in a box under your bed. Store them in a secure place in your home, such as a fire- and waterproof safe. Give a copy of your will to your executor, and make sure the people you’ve appointed as your powers of attorney for health care and financial matters have original copies of those documents.

    Insider Tip:
    Consider opening a safe-deposit box to store other items that would cause panic if lost, such as:Insurance policies
    Birth, marriage and death certificates
    Adoption papers and divorce decrees
    Deeds, titles, mortgage papers and lease contracts
    Military records and citizenship papers
    Stock and bond certificates
    Do not keep the original copy of your will or trust, power of attorney documents or medical care directives in your safe-deposit box.

Hit the Easy Button

It’s hard enough blowing out another candle on your birthday cake. Let us lend you a hand with some of the responsibilities that come with turning a year older. We can help you make sure you’re on the right path to creating a secure plan that protects your family’s future with our FREE Personal Estate Planning Kit:

Download your kit today

Or contact Danny Carroll at or 757.223.7925 ext 203 to learn more.

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Our mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.