There are several events and services that the YMCA has available that would not be possible if it weren’t for the work of several volunteers.
Each year the staff of the YMCA chooses one volunteer to honor, and this year it was Johnie Hopkins.
Hopkins has been volunteering at the YMCA for a little less than two years. He shows up prior to many of the events and sets up tables and chairs.
“He’s a superior volunteer,” said Whitney Levens, YMCA health enhancement director. “He really has a giving spirit. He does not want any recognition for what he does. Sometimes I think he feels uncomfortable when we nominate him for things like volunteer of the year.”
Levens and YMCA Executive Director Tres Fordham both reminisce on the Go Far 5K where Hopkins showed up to help set up for the event at 5:45 .m. and was willing to help any chore that needed to be done.
“He wanted to be the one at the end of the race to put the medals on the kids at the end of the Go Far 5K,” Fordham said. “He wants to be part of things; he wants to be involved. He does stuff without us even asking.”
Hopkins says that he works hard at volunteering because he loves the facility and the people at the YMCA.
“I found the place for me,” Hopkins said. “They are great to work with; they are thoughtful, courteous and professional. I would recommend the YMCA to anyone and I might sound like a commercial but I really believe it.”
Hopkins started his time with the YMCA in December 2010 working out with the Silver Sneakers program. He was successful in this program so the staff at the YMCA encouraged him to venture out into other activities.
A front desk employee suggested that Hopkins join a running group through Peacehaven Baptist Church called Run For God. Hopkins then realized his new love: running.
He signed up to compete in the Senior Games in Surry County.
“I got the gold and two silvers at the Surry Senior Games and apparently the health enhancement director saw that I could use some more help fulfilling my potential for running,” Hopkins said. “There was a group exercise program started up called sports conditioning. Our coach in that class really helped my endurance because he knows what he’s doing.”
The conditioning class prepared Hopkins to go on to the Winston-Salem Senior Games.
“I did six events, and I took home six gold medals,” Hopkins said. “I can thank the people here at the YMCA for helping me.”
Levens and Fordham both feel that Hopkins sets an example for other volunteers at the YMCA as well as the older members.
“He’s an asset for our active older adults program and he sets a great example for a senior by showing them that you don’t have to be limited by your age,” Levens said. “He always says it’s not how old you are; it’s how old you feel.”
Hopkins says that he says that his experience with the YMCA makes him feel loved and that, while the award is nice, it’s not necessary to make him always want to give his all when he volunteers.
“This award is more than I deserve really,” Hopkins said. “I was doing these things not even knowing there was such an award. It’s like these people love me and I love them. They look out for me and I try to help them like a family.”
The YMCA is always accepting volunteers. Those who are interested in volunteering can fill out an application. Volunteers will be matched to an area within the YMCA that matches their interests.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at email@example.com.