Meet Matt and Stacie Hopes
Matt and Stacie Hopes have been connected to the YMCA their whole lives. They both started swim lessons at their home YMCA – Lake County YMCA in Lake County, Ohio – at a very young age. Matt recalls receiving his first paycheck ever from the Y, at $5/hour for his summer job. Stacie’s mother worked at the Y too, and at age 17, Stacie began working at the Front Desk and helping out where she was needed. By this time, Matt was going on his sixth year in the Leaders Club and helped Stacie through her new-hire paperwork.
Both Matt and Stacie quickly became passionate about the work they were doing at the Y. They were both counselors for Summer Camp and Resident Camp, then eventually served as Camp Directors. They reflected on several mentors they had during their teens, including Dick Bennett (current CEO of Lake County YMCA) and Elaine Barnard (Program Director at Lake County YMCA), who spent a lot of time course-correcting and guiding teens to make smart choices growing up. Matt recalls a time when he and fellow camp counselors raided the camp kitchen – something they did often. This one time, they indulged a bit too much and received a stern but kind lesson from Dick about how to stay within respectful boundaries when you are in a leadership role. “The Y offers kids and teens a safe place to be themselves and test boundaries, as all teens will, without the risk of getting into real trouble like they may elsewhere,” Matt explains.
Stacie recalls working with at-risk girls one summer, which now proves to have been a transformative year. Not only did her success as a counselor in this setting line her up for a Camp Director position, but she also developed many important leadership skills during this time. In her role, Stacie was able to form strong bonds with the girls at camp, all of whom were only able to attend due to financial assistance programs.
Matt and Stacie have now been married almost nine years and have a two year old, Cameron, with another baby on the way. Their growing family strengthens the connections they have to the YMCA. “Our goal is to raise our children in the same environment we grew up in,” they explain. “The mission of the YMCA is the cornerstone of what makes the Y so special. You can find gyms, dance classes and camps on every corner these days. It is the Christian principles and core values of Caring, Respect, Honesty and Responsibility that set the Cannon YMCA apart and make it the right environment for individuals, families and the community to grow.” Matt, having been actively engaged in Leaders Club as a teen, was raised to “Come to learn, return to serve,” the Leaders School motto. Today, he serves on the West Cabarrus YMCA Board of Managers, and they both find a way to give their time and philanthropic support to the Cannon Y in order to help strengthen programs like swim lessons and the Leaders Club.
These photos were taken at Camp Fitch in North Springfield, PA.