Andrew Melendez

Executive Director, YMCA of Agawam; Age 27

Andrew Melendez

Andrew Melendez

Andrew Melendez acknowledged that the role of executive director of the recently opened YMCA of Agawam, a branch of the YMCA of Greater Springfield, is a huge step forward career-wise, but one he certainly felt ready to accept at age 26.

Indeed, his résumé was already loaded with intriguing and challenging assignments, including his time as manager of the substitute teacher program for the Springfield Public Schools.

“I was one of the first ones at the central office every day — I was there at 6:30,” he explained. “There are 52 schools, and we probably had about 300 subs working every day. It was an incredible experience … I had a $5 million budget I had to approve payroll for.”

Other career stops and work within the community included time as program director of Homework House for the Sisters of St. Joseph, a stint leading the Holyoke office of the Latino Chamber of Commerce, another as literacy coordinator for the city of Holyoke, as well as current service as board president of the Valley Opportunity Council (VOC) and work on the Holyoke Charter Commission. He’s traveled to Honduras to volunteer to teach children English, and created a program in Holyoke for walking school-age children to school with a role-model chaperone.

All of that has helped make him ready for what he called “a dream come true” — a chance to run his own Y.

This is a multi-faceted position, one where he’s handling everything from budgets and payroll projections to supervising the staff of 12 to coordinating lifeguards and swimming lessons for the town of Agawam. His main responsibility, though, is to meet the many, and diverse, needs of the Agawam Y’s 1,500 members and program participants.

“I really enjoy working with the members, tending to their needs, and seeing the happy faces of success and accomplishment,” he said of his work. “We have members from 3 months old to 103 years old, and it’s rewarding to help them meet whatever goals they set down.”

When not doing that, he volunteers his time and energy to a number of groups and causes, from the board of the Westfield State University Foundation and the Non-discrimination and Diversity Council to the VOC, which he described as “an amazing learning experience. As president of the board, I’m always talking with legislative leaders and city leaders and working with that $35 million [budget] every day.”

— George O’Brien

Photo by Denise Smith Photography

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