Volunteer Spotlight - Annie LePere

April 17, 2018

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.
A: I grew up in Tidewater, VA and have been in Buena Vista for 7 years. My husband Bryon and I celebrated 20 years of marriage last summer and are the proud parents of Nathan (16) and Mary (14). We are a soccer family—Bryon coaches and both kids play Varsity for Parry McCluer High School. In my few spare moments I love to garden and try out new recipes. I am fortunate enough to support YMCA programs through a grant from Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth. As an employee of Rockbridge Area Community Services (RACS), I coordinate a community coalition that addresses childhood obesity through nutrition and physical activity. Rockbridge Area YMCA is a member of the coalition.

Q: How did you first get involved with the Y?
A: Rockbridge Y’s former executive director Alysan Raymond interviewed me for my position at Rockbridge Area Community Services, and I am so thankful for the opportunity she helped give me. Our very first project together was refining and delivering the “Happy Hearts” program, a six week nutrition class for elementary students. We took the program to three elementary schools along with two summer camps and had great fun playing active games, learning how to read food labels, discussing how to eat balanced meals, and the best part—taste testing new recipes. This experiment of a program was the beginning of the Y’s expanded outreach to the Rockbridge Community.

Q: What is the best thing to happen since you started working the Y?
A: The best thing has been watching the Y expand its work with kids. They’ve always had a strong summer camp and after school childcare, but it has been very exciting to see them expand into offering afterschool enrichment. The eagerness of families to have quality programs for their kids' afterschool is evident in the numbers that enroll. The community support has been encouraging too. I have loved watching the program at Natural Bridge Elementary School expand in numbers and variety of programs. The kids love it!

Q: What do you wish other people knew about the Y?
A: The Y gives back as much, if not more, than it gets. They bring so much to our community. Y employees and board members have volunteered for many of the programs that RACS brings to schools. For the past 2 years, they have hosted an Alternative Spring Break group of college students who do service projects throughout the community. This year, the students ran a health fair at Lylburn Downing Middle School. When the middle schoolers were asked about their favorite part of the event, it wasn’t free smoothies or karate—it was the college students.