Greg Geryak first began volunteering for the YMCA to get exposure for his growing business but seeing the difference he could make, it became an addiction.
“It becomes self gratifying,” Greg said. “It fills a spot that I never knew I had. My initial intention was to introduce my business and be recognized in the community for what I do but once you get involved and you give back and you see the families you help, it becomes addicting. At that point the question becomes, what else can you do to make a difference in someone’s life?”
Each year the Valley of the Sun YMCA honors a family from each of the 17 branches for the time, treasure and talent they give to their local center and the community. This year the board at the Ahwatukee Foothills branch unanimously chose the Geryak family.
“Greg has been instrumental in the development of our Y,” said executive director of the branch, Connie Nelson-Askew. “He was a board chair for three years, which is longer than anyone has served as a board chair here. He was instrumental in our fundraising for our Strong Kids and Families campaign. He really helped to network us with all the service organizations in the community. We used to refer to him as Mr. Ahwatukee.”
Greg was in the corporate world when his family first came to Arizona in 1993. Around the time the Ahwatukee facility was built he was beginning his own business and looking for a way to get to know the community.
He said volunteering for the Y helped him to connect with the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce and the Kiwanis Club.
Now he’s no longer a board member but he, his wife Lina, and daughter Summer all work out at the Y regularly and he remains a strong advocate for fundraising efforts.
“What really motivated me was that all the money we raise stays here,” Greg said. “There’s a lot of organizations that raise money for a good reason, but it doesn’t necessarily stay in your community. Every dime of what we raise in Ahwatukee stays in Ahwatukee. For the homeless kids, people who have lost jobs, death in the family, divorces, their goal is to keep the integrity of the family together. If you go to a different fitness facility, if you can’t pay, they shut your membership off. The Y really does a lot for families in addition to being a place to exercise or do different programs.”
The Geryak family views the YMCA as not just a fitness center but a community center.
“It’s comfortable,” Lina said. “It’s not like other gyms where you walk in and have to wonder if you belong. Everyone knows your name and it makes it so you don’t mind going to work out.”
For anyone thinking about getting involved, Greg says now is a great time. The Y does a lot to help the community and the need is always greater than the donations.
“It’s a good feeling to help somebody else,” Greg said. “Whether it’s time, talent or treasure, if you can give one of those three in any fashion, it helps. You need a lot of people doing a little bit so it doesn’t all sit on a few people’s shoulders. Give it a chance and see how it fits.”
For more information on the YMCA, visit ahwatukeeymca.org.
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