Blog Post

Forty years of assembling cars gave Colinthus Foote an appreciation for efficiency. He employs that same thinking to his fitness regimen at the Northern Neck Family YMCA. In fact, when he leaves home for the Y, his wife asks him, “Are you going to work?”

Foote has a weekday schedule; on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday he takes YES (Young Energetic Seniors), Yoga, and STEP aerobic classes. On Mondays Foote adds a Pilates class to the mix and on Fridays he subtracts the aerobics class. Tuesday’s classes include three different Yoga classes and weight training.

Colinthus Foote takes a break between classes at the Northern Neck Family YMCA.

Foote believes that each class enhances his health and quality of life. The aerobic classes and weight training help him stay in shape as he gets older. The YES classes focus on functional fitness while the yoga classes incorporate a whole body and mind approach to wellness. Foote has gained flexibility through yoga and incorporates its relaxation techniques into his waking up and going to sleep routines.

While believing you need to “Use it or lose it,” Foote knows his body and acknowledges what he can and can’t do. Each class instructor works with him to insure exercises are performed properly and, if necessary, modified to ensure comfort and safety.

When Foote endured some health problems he gave up his pool workouts. Now, fully recovered he is looking forward to the new YMCA aquatics center opening in the fall. He has reserved a couple of time slots for water aerobics.

You won’t see Foote at the YMCA on Thursdays, that is his day to take care of chores around his home and yard. With a grin, he confesses, “I love it when it rains.”

Colinthus Foote practices dance moves with fellow Y-member and Shagger, Rae Paul.But, rain or shine, on Thursday night Foote indulges in his passion for dancing. He goes to KC’s Crabs and Cues to dance with the Northern Neck Shaggers group. “I love to move,” says Foote, so it is no surprise that music and dancing have always been a part of his life.

In Foote’s mid-teens he attended block and basement parties in his Baltimore neighbor and discovered the joys of dancing. In his 20’s this turned into a side job as a Supersonic Sounds’ DJ. The group played dance music for weddings, events, and hosted their own club parties.

Not satisfied watching everyone else dance, Foote joined Stepping Out Productions. This stylish troupe performed elaborate dance routines at parties and stage shows.

When asked how he got from Baltimore to the Northern Neck, Foote shakes his head and says, “It’s always a woman.” Which is another way of saying he did it for love.

In fact, Foote attributes his Y “job” to his wife and daughter. After retiring, he was content doing household chores and watching television. His family, however, feared he would soon get bored of this routine and encouraged him to get out of the house more. With this encouragement, Foote took an aerobics class. Then he took another and soon Foote was taking his lunch to the Y so he could avoid driving home between workouts.

The time between classes allows Foote to run errands, spend time at the library, practice his dance moves, and model for classes at the Rappahannock Art League. He has made so many friends at these spots that his wife teases him about knowing everyone in the county.

It should not be a surprise that Foote has so many friends. Although he has a quiet demeanor, he is a people person at heart and generous with his time. He can often be seen offering a gentle suggestion to a new workout participant. At other times people come to ask him questions because they respect his knowledge and experience about a class. And, just as often someone will strike up a random conversation with him; everyone likes a kind soul with a positive outlook on life.

Share Button

Jerry Horner Playing PickleballJerry Horner was among the core of teachers who started Rappahannock Community College in 1971. His official role was the Head of Health and Recreation but in the early days, he helped with all the college’s student and social activities.

A gifted athlete and outdoors enthusiast, Horner taught everything from tennis and golf to canoeing and archery to bridge and square dancing. His three-day backpacking excursions and canoe trips down Dragon Run became annual rites for many area residents.

Over the decades, the community college system changed its focus from outdoor physical activities to health-oriented classroom instruction. Horner changed with the times and started sharing his knowledge inside a classroom rather than outside beneath the sun and stars.

In 2009, after 38-years at RCC, Horner retired. The proverbial dream of sitting back on the front porch and idling away the hours lasted about a week with Horner. He wanted to stay vital. To do this, Horner realized, “I had to reinvent myself.” He joined the Northern Neck Family YMCA.

At first, Horner only worked out on the weight machines. He concentrated on his form and as he says, “I was friendly but not social.” Then he saw a sign for pickleball. Curious about a sport he had never taught, Horner signed up and played when the group could get enough people for a match.

Initially, none of the players were very good. Over the years, their inexperience and rudimentary equipment have been replaced by knowledge and the latest high tech gear.  Now, Northern Neck players can hold their own against anyone. 

Horner says, “Pickleball is what I was looking for.” He enjoys the sport’s resemblance to a fast-paced tennis match while appreciating the benefits of playing indoors on a much smaller court.

Pickleball allows him to stay active and provides a social outlet. Although they are competitive on the court, off it, they are all good friends. The group often enjoys meals together and proclaimed their camaraderie with pickleball parties. Some have banded together to travel to pickleball tournaments outside the region. The group seems always ready to test their abilities and gain new friends.

Pickleball also allows Horner to take part in match play. He admits, “I’m still learning. I don’t have to win to enjoy it, but I don’t like to lose either.” Horner plays in most local tournaments and belongs to a Richmond league. He says, “I’m 75 but play in the 40-65 age group. I enjoy the challenge.”

Jerry Horner working out.As Horner spent more time at the Y he started looking for other programs to join in. Overcoming an old misconception that yoga was only for women he tried a class. He now admits, “Yoga is something he should have been doing for years. My knees and back feel so much better.” Horner now advocates for yoga and encourages others, particularly men, to try it. He believes it is not only good for the body but the classes’ energy is revitalizing.

When not at the Y, Horner tends oyster beds and raises bees. He is also planting an assortment of plants to attract the right bugs and insects for a 2-acre pollinating meadow. He says, “I don’t like to see the birds and bees that I grew up with disappear. I’m doing what I can to care for and help the environment.”

Over the decades at RCC, Horner exposed many people to discover the benefits of a healthy and active outdoor life. Now, he helps people learn pickleball and encourages them to take yoga classes. But, he says, “I’m also a student. The Y has given me the opportunity to do things I wouldn’t have had the chance to do. I’m not just sitting in a rocking chair.” Horner, offers an observation, “Life is a one-way journey. Pack your ‘bags’ well, be well-rounded, and get the most out of it.”

Share Button

The Y serves a large and diverse membership group throughout its surrounding communities. Each member has the opportunity to make their Y experience their own through the programs and activities that spark their interest. As we prepare for the New Year, and all the exciting things to come, we wanted to reflect on the impact the Y has made on our members this past year. We gave members the opportunity to describe the Y. This is what they had to say:

“The staff are extremely kind, caring and professional.” ~A.S.

“It’s like my second family.” ~L.J.

“Courteous staff Friendly atmosphere” ~K.M.

“I enjoy going to the Y and have met a lot of nice people.” ~J.G.

Share Button

Feedback from our members is very important to us. The Y is continually improving its facilities based on the wants and needs of our members and communities. As we prepare for the New Year and all the exciting things to come, we want to reflect on the impact the Y has made on our members this past year. We gave members the opportunity to provide commentary on their Y experience. This is what they had to say:

Love that all are equal when we walk in the door. No matter age, race or creed, those of us wanting to improve our health, work out at whatever level we can. And the Y strives to meet the needs of the community!! ~B.D.

I got to the Y 3 to 4 times a week as does my husband. We play pickleball 3 times each week and I take two classes. In the summer we have the pool of which we enjoy a lot. It is a good place to meet friends and to get some exercise. ~J.S.

I like the variety of exercise facilities, equipment, and classes available to the membership. I also enjoy the opportunities for available for socialization, and the pleasant relationships I have developed with staff and other members. ~H.W.

The inclusiveness, the friendliness, the effort made by members and staff to engage one another in conversation and experiences, the mixture of very young and very old, the children, the interesting programs, and the modern, fun, and spotlessly clean facilities. ~E.H.

Share Button

“By receiving the scholarship from the YMCA, I am able to go to work and know that my daughter is well taken care of. I have been using the Y since 2004 and highly recommend the daycare program to everyone I know. The YMCA helped prepare my son for kindergarten and is now helping my daughter. The YMCA staff are all very loving, caring individuals. They treat our children as their own, and you can see the love in their eyes and the relationships they have built with our children. If it wasn’t for the scholarship programs, I would not be able to afford good daycare and be able to leave my kids and know that they are safe.

– YMCA Scholarship Recipient

Due to the generosity of our donors, the Y is able to give financial assistance to families in need. 

Share Button

“At the Y we are caring.”

It is their first day of summer camp, and five-year-old twins Axel and Fritz are ready to meet new friends and have a great time at the Y. Enthusiastic camp counselors greet them as they arrive. Within a few minutes, the boys are playing games with fellow campers. At the sound of a whistle, the campers line up by groups to prepare for the Camp Opening. A camp counselor helps Axel and Fritz find and join their groups. The first day of summer camp is off to an amazing start.

After an energizing Camp Opening full of fun camp songs, the boys’ group sets off for their day of adventures. During a healthy eating activity fellow campers, Jocelyn took it upon herself to sit with the boys and translate the activity instructions. At no point during camp did the fact that Axel and Fritz only spoke Spanish hold them back from participating and having a great time. When Jocelyn was asked why she helped the boys, she commented, “At the Y we are caring. So I helped them play the game.”

The Y’s core values of Caring, Honesty, Respect, and Responsibility are instilled in our programs to help develop full potential in a positive environment. Jocelyn’s act of kindness demonstrates the core values in action.

Share Button

Sample fitness classes, face painting, food trucks, music, and the excitement of our members were the icing on the cake to an amazing Grand Opening for the Mathews Family YMCA. Following the ceremonial ribbon cutting, community leaders and people from all across the county had a chance to explore their new Y. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our volunteers, visitors were given tours of the new facility to see all the innovative building features and programs that the Y offers. We were honored to see the satisfaction that was given from the new and wheelchair accessible equipment, and a few of our staff joined in the excitement of the pickleball games that flooded the fitnasium.

To continue to make the Y a home for everyone, we will continue to wave joining fees, and members will be able to earn a free month for every person they invite who joins the Y.

Share Button

The Mathews County Board of Supervisors took a tour of the new Mathews Family YMCA, getting a first-hand look not only at the colorful walls and bright, open spaces, but also at the safety upgrades the county paid for with grants and county funds.

The facility, on Cricket Hill Road at Hudgins, is nearing completion with a grand opening celebration scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 25.

Read the full article in the Gazette-Journal.

See what the new facility offers.


Share Button

This year, over 1,160 youth in the YMCA Summer Camp program enjoyed the annual STEM Fair at the Virginia Air and Space Center. Summer campers not only participated in a wide range of fun and educational activities but many of the campers designed projects to be judged by local community leaders! The campers submitting the projects worked together in groups, developing their project’s design, construction, and budget. It’s inspiring to see meaningful connections being built within the summer camp group!


Summer Camp is just one of the many groups that have formed within our YMCA. In fact, the STEM Fair was made possible by our amazing group of volunteers that annually support the YMCA’s initiatives and community outreach. The Y offers numerous programs and activities that appeal to different interests. Like our summer campers, all members of our community can find a group at the Y. Together, groups can reach their goals and make meaningful connections that last a lifetime!


Special guests judges: Canon, Langley Federal Credit Union, NASA, Old Point National Bank, The Y., Frontier Technologies, Inc., Warhill High School, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, York County School System, 1st Advantage Credit Union, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc., and PropBusta Drone Club.


Activity stations: Canon Virginia, ECPI, Langley Federal Credit Union, Menchville High School Triple Helix, Jefferson Labs, Newport News Shipbuilding Career Pathways and Jamie Auberg Instructional Innovations.


Share Button

YMCA campers think on, and off, their feet to solve projects at STEM Fair


HAMPTON – Boat builder Melody Jones was pretty proud of her cargo ship on Thursday.

The bright red USS Caring, as she and her teammates dubbed it, bobbled up and down in the water as industry experts from the likes of Canon and NASA looked on.

The ship, made solely of duct tape, took on no water as metal nut after metal nut was loaded aboard it.

The adults asked the group inportant questions about its construction and purpose.

Of course a cargo ship like the Caring should travel down rivers slower rather than faster, Melody said, “so stuff doesn’t fall off.”

Melody was one of more than 1,300 summer campers from across more than a dozen Peninsula YMCA branches (from the Northern Neck to Isle of Wight County) who flooded the Virginia Air & Space Center Thursday for the YMCA’s fifth annual STEM Fair, focusing on science, technology, engineering and math.

The boat challenge was a culmination of weeks of STEM-based projects held at each branch this summer. Younger grades were tasked with making one out of duct tape to hold a heavy load, while the upper grades had a few supplies, such as aluminum foil and cork, to design a barge to transport oysters from Lancaster County to Smithfield. For those who weren’t being judged as finalists in the challenges, there wa still plenty to do. Frintier, The Williamsburg Drone Club and Newport News Shipbuilding were among the many local groups that set up activities and informational stands around STEM concepts.

“So they get the opportunity not only to do activities and learn, but they’re interacting with people who are in career fields,” said Stacia Roeth, chief operating officer of the Peninsula YMCA. “So maybe it will spark some thought somewhere along the say down the road, that a camper says, ‘I want to be a scientist, (or) I want to be an engineer, (or) I want to design boats that are going to go down the river.’ This is a place where they can spark that thought.”

A big hit of the day was an exercise in physics thanks to Canon Virginia.

Campers used paper and other supplies to make small “rockets” that were launched using some PVC piping and plastic bottles.

They enthusiastically launched their vehicles by jumping atop the bottles and watching their paths.

Thomas Wheeless, a mechanical engineer, said he even noticed one camper testing her rocket five times on a smaller launchpad, noting that she would methodically compare those results against ones from the bigger bottle.

Allyson Goard, 7, also launched her rocket over and over again before playing with magnetic tiles to build new structures alongside Kynedi Barnes, 7.

They both said they learned about science, which “can be really difficult,” Kynedi said.

But it’s worth it, Allyson added.

“Learning about these planes and stuff,” she said, looking around the displays hanging in the center, “is really fun.”

Hammond can be reached by phone at 757-247-4951.


Share Button

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