The Road Forward
New leadership team vows to work to make Winston Lake Y better, stronger
Burlington native Terry Smith has assumed the branch director post at the Winston Lake Family YMCA.
The Winston-Salem State University alumna has worked for the YMCA for nearly 20 years, beginning as a camp counselor at the Central (now known as William G. White) YMCA when she was in college. Though she had planned to become a visual artist, Matthews said her priorities quickly shifted after taking the position at the Y.
“Every day when I come to work, I have the opportunity to help people,” she said. “Since I was a little girl, I have volunteered … and at the Y each day when I come to work, I have that opportunity to change someone’s life.”
Matthews finished her degree but stayed on with the Y, gradually moving up the ranks to become operations director at Sally’s Y in the YMCA of Greater Charlotte network, where she served for two and a half years prior to returning to the Twin City. The mother of one said she applied for the position at Winston Lake because she was looking for new opportunities to serve within the organization where she has spent her career.
“It just looked like something that would be a new and interesting challenge,” she remarked. “I’m always looking for a new challenge, a new adventure.”
After just two weeks on the job, Matthews says Winston Lake already feels like home.
“It’s been exciting. I have met a lot of people, and I’ve found that our membership here is wonderful. They truly believe in the mission of the YMCA and they believe in the Winston Lake Family YMCA,” she declared. “…The people that we serve are truly what makes the branch special.”
The branch has weathered some upheaval since Executive Director Shawan Gabriel left in December 2012. YMCA of Northwest North Carolina leaders delayed the search for Gabriel’s successor by several months, saying they were weighing their options on how to proceed with the hiring process, and ultimately opted to hire a branch director instead of another executive director. The length of the hiring process was a source of concern for some Winston Lake members, and Network officials met with disgruntled members regarding the matter several times. Matthews said she is hopeful that the membership will be pleased with the end result.
“We have a lot of work to do,” she admitted, “but we have the right team in place to get it done.”
Richard Daniels, who was promoted to vice president of operations in May, serves as executive director for both Winston Lake and the Fulton Family YMCA, and will oversee Matthews at Winston Lake, which is home to roughly 2000 members, a significantly smaller number than that of most other local branches. Together, the two will work to develop new programs and relationships, boost membership and continue to move the branch forward, Daniels said.
“I think from day one, Terry has stepped in and I think she’s right at home. I think that the members really had an opportunity to meet her. They see that we both have the same type of passion for the YMCA and we understand the mission of the YMCA,” he said. “…What I would like for them to see is that we heard your concerns and we are moving in the direction of meeting those needs of this community.”
A nationwide search late last spring yielded 100 applicants, but Matthews stood out from the beginning, Daniels said.
“Terry’s résumé, going through the process, sort of stood out, not only to myself but to the board and to members of the search committee,” reported Daniels, a 22-year veteran of the agency. “I’ve always known Terry was a go-getter. I’ve known her to be very personable and she’s always been a get-it-done type of person.”
Matthews, 42, said she is ready to take the branch to the next level.
“I don’t think there’s any challenges,” she said. “I think there are opportunities that we have to continue to develop programs and to continue to develop relationships, and I think it’s important as we move forward that we continue to focus on the people.”
As director, Matthews said she will pay special attention to initiatives that create a sense of inclusiveness among community members, embracing efforts that support diversity and scholarships for those who can’t afford to pay membership fees.
“Social responsibility to me is one of the things that I like to focus on,” she said. “One of my goals is to make sure that any child — any person — in the community that wants to come to the Y is able to come.”
As director, Matthews said she will lead with kindness and compassion for members and the community at large.
“They can expect a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, a friend and, most of all, they can just expect someone who believes in the YMCA mission and wants to see us continue to move forward,” she remarked. “I just want us to continue to grow programs so that we can continue to be a leader in the community, for sports, for childcare. For anything that people in the community need, we want to be the place that they go. We want to be their home away from home.”
In partnership with the Bouncing Bonanza, Winston Lake Family YMCA, 901 Waterworks Rd., will host a Jam Fest Back to School Giveaway on Saturday, Aug. 17 from 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. The event will include food and merchandise vendors, inflatables, face painting, a free basketball skills training clinic, entertainment provided by the YMCA PIPA Dance program. For more information, call 336-724-9205.