Take Five: Dave Lamb – 28 years of dedication to the YMCA

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Since April is Volunteer Month, what better time to recognize Dave Lamb, vice chair of the YMCA board of directors, who has advocated for the YMCA for almost three decades.

Throughout the last 28 years, Lamb has shown a steadfast commitment to furthering the goals of the Y through his board membership and service on eight internal committees.

As described, he is the truest definition of a servant leader. When the organization needs him, he is always there. His volunteer contributions have made an enduring impact on so many in the community, even beyond his board service.

Stu News caught up with Lamb to get the scoop on what inspires his service to the community – and find out what’s in the future for the YMCA.

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Photos courtesy of YMCA

Pat and Dave Lamb enjoying outdoor adventures at a YMCA camp

Q: Where does your inspiration for community service come from?

A: My grandfather, Reginald C. Lamb, helped form the first boys camp for the YMCA in Annapolis, Md. in the 1930s. Our grandparents were a major influence on the attitude of our family in being of service. They were involved with the Girl Scouts, and I think my grandfather was either chair or actively involved in the board until 1953. I didn’t ever talk to him about it, and I’m sorry to say that he passed away when I was about 7 or 8 years old, but the stories we’ve heard about them were very special. My grandmother was also involved in the theater arts for Annapolis, and they certainly had a huge impact on all of us in the family.

Q: What brought you out to California?

A: A great opportunity. My wife and I had been married a year, and I lobbied to get Proctor & Gamble to move us out to California in 1974. I worked at the Long Beach manufacturing location. I had an engineering background and worked in production management.

Q: How did you initially become involved with the YMCA?

A: I became involved with Adventure Guides (previously Indian Princesses) because of my daughters. That was a wonderful experience. Due to the Adventure Guides, I was actively involved with the YMCA, so it just seemed natural to join the Newport board. Then in the late 1980s, I stepped forward to volunteer as the interim executive director of the Newport-Mesa Family YMCA when it had abruptly lost its director. In 1994, I joined the YMCAOC board of directors.

Q: What impact has the YMCA and its volunteers had on the community? The Y website states that volunteer support is vital to the Y and that volunteers can take an active role in bringing about meaningful, enduring change in the community.

A: Through the YMCA volunteers, we have opportunities to help and make a difference. We are creating a better community by providing support for families, for youth and for single parents that have issues with work balance and financial needs. We provide a pillar to help many get through the challenges they have in their lives until they’re more sustainable and in a better position. Like a hub in the community, we also create a wonderful spot for individuals and families to congregate, to build relationships and to expose themselves to a healthy lifestyle.

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Dave Lamb enjoying one of his favorite activities – sailing – at a YMCA Camp

Q: Financial aid (the Y raises funds to ensure services are accessible to all members of the community) is an important component in what the YMCA offers. Tell our readers a little about its impact.

A: There is a wide variety of programs, camps and after school programs. For example, the New Horizons program aids families that have special needs children or adults. It helps them with negotiating their daily lives and gives them some time away.

I’ve heard and seen firsthand many testimonials attesting to the impact of the financial aid – in families that don’t have the financial ability to participate in the programs. That’s what our fundraising is all about. We have witnessed the impact it’s had on families and their kids who were acting out in school, and were able to attend an after- school program which focuses on family values and character – it helps so many.

We have an annual fundraising campaign that’s usually in the spring. The YMCA board of directors is in a year-round campaign mode to help fund the scholarships. We need every penny we raise. Not a penny of that money goes for overhead or to salaries. It goes to the scholarships and providing funding for families to participate in the wider programs.

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So, if a family member hears about one of our programs – we see this a lot with our childcare locations and after school programs – and wants their child to join, we have a financial aid package. We have various amount levels that we grant to people up to 100% fully funded. If someone refers a family or knows a family in need, we will reach out to them, explain the options and then offer them assistance.

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Dave and Pat Lamb enjoying smores by the fire with family and friends at a YMCA Camp

We strive to reach as many as possible but can’t wait to do more – we have so many opportunities, yet we’re limited as we must survive as an organization. I’ll put in a plug here for the staff – they are so well managed, and they make sure they get a dollar’s worth on a dollar.”

They’re great stewards of the money, so it makes it easy for us volunteers to go out and say to donors, “You know when you give a dollar, that dollar will go to good use to help our community.

I’m getting goose bumps right now just thinking about it, there are so many opportunities and we just need to implement those a step at a time and go through the process. Jeff McBride, the CEO, is so good at leading us. The Y is growing and adding more impactful things in the next few years. That’s why I’m hanging on and loving every minute of it.

I’ve been a volunteer for a long time, and I felt like I got as much out of the Y that I put into it. We have a very interesting board of directors – individuals with strong character and family values. It’s nice to be affiliated with people like that and we learn from each other. We are very focused on all the decisions we make as we’re trying to prepare for the future when the next generation will come in as board of directors. We want to make sure that the processes are in place for them to continue to implement the values and programs that the Y has established. McBride, Anna Romiti and Dolores Daly, three of the senior staff members, are very special.

We’re looking forward to summer – we serve up to about 6,000 to 7,000 kids per day. We’re also looking forward to continuing to grow. We’re doing a lot of strategic planning right now, focusing in on what’s needed in the community and making sure that we can respond accordingly. We’re working on delivering the highest number of services with a level of excellence. There’s a lot of work going into planning for the next five years and beyond.

Looking ahead, we have some signature events that we do in the fall. In Laguna Niguel, we have a very large 5K run and a kids race on the 4th of July.

Romiti, vice president of advancement, marketing and communications, added: “I’m sure Dave would agree the hardest part is you want to help everybody all at once. The demand has increased so much since the pandemic.

For more information about the YMCA, go to www.ymca.org.


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