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Celebration of Service

Leading a hometown YMCA to the big leagues

Peter Hamill is helping to transform his YMCA into a growing, evolving community asset

Like many youngsters growing up in the western Canadian prairie community of Regina, Saskatchewan, Peter Hamill spent a great deal of time at the local YMCA, participating in everything from gymnastics to swim lessons. Now, as an adult, he — like many others — continues to rely on the "Y" for fitness and recreation. And that’s why Hamill is applying his skills as an IBM employee to help his hometown YMCA transform into a growing, evolving community asset.

Becoming an effective board member

Hamill, a lead representative for services in IBM’s General Business organization, joined the Regina YMCA’s executive board over a decade ago. When he came on board, the group's long-term goals were buried in the minutiae of a thick planning binder. "That's when the strategic planning things we do at IBM seemed to have a direct relation to what we needed to do at the Y," Hamill recalls. "We adopted a traditional consulting approach: when you understand who you are and what you do, and understand where you want to go, the road map starts to fall into place."

Since joining the board, Hamill's impact has been significant. His reach grew exponentially when IBM launched On Demand Community—a strategic global online community that combines the skills of over 160,000 IBM employee and retiree volunteers with the power of access to innovative new IBM technology, resources, training, and support. Hamill made effective use of the assorted offerings available in On Demand Community, such as a tutorial on becoming an effective not–for–profit board member.

"Peter Hamill not only helped create a strategic direction and vision for our YMCA, but also guided us through implementing that vision," says YMCA of Regina CEO Randy Klassen. "He is truly a dedicated volunteer, giving his time, talent and treasure for the development of a stronger, healthier community."

The map to success

Over ten years ago, Hamill authored the YMCA of Regina's new strategic plan and condensed it down to five easy–to–remember pages. The results speak for themselves: Y membership has increased from 3,500 to 11,000; a new satellite facility and three new day care centers have opened and a Community Development initiative offers more than 25 programs focusing on youth leadership and internships.

An IBM Community Grant is being used to support one of these Community Development initiatives — "Tomorrow's Wise Leaders,” an after–school program serving more than 450 inner–city aboriginal students. Krista, a 13-year old student from a neighborhood with Canada’s highest per-capita concentration of gang activity, said, “I want to thank [the volunteers] for being there for me. I am being better in school. I am not getting in trouble anymore. I think this program teaches me more than my teacher does." The IBM Community Grants program provides money or IBM products to eligible community organizations and schools for specific projects where IBM employees and retirees are actively volunteering.

With their original goals met — and often exceeded — Hamill is helping the YMCA of Regina look to the future by chairing a committee focused on yet another line of business: philanthropy. "We're on track to raise $5 million for renovating our facilities and to create a 'virtual Y' in Regina schools," says Hamill. "We are also hoping for $20 million for a third YMCA facility. Of course, that's still in the dreaming stage."
But Hamill is used to making dreams come true.

"On the other hand," he says, "10 years ago, our dream was to double our membership."

IBM is marking its centennial year with a worldwide celebration of volunteer service. Throughout 2011, IBM invites everyone to join our global community of employees, retirees, families and friends as we support the communities where we work, live and learn together.