DELMAR – The atmosphere and philosophy at the YMCA and the town in which it is located drew 60-year-old Executive Director Mark Thurman back to the Capital District, choosing Bethlehem, New York over Cape Cod.
“There’s just something about the organization and the work we do here at the YMCA,” he said. “And they get the concept of community, and the Town of Bethlehem gets it.”
It’s more organic than created.
“As I aged,” he said, “I realized you need community around you. That’s what brought me back to the area.”
And the community needed Thurman. On any given day, he can be seen greeting and encouraging members as they sign-in to workout or enter into some serious pickleball with him.
Thurman’s natural ability to relate to others also expresses itself outside the four walls of the YMCA.
“I get to meet and build relationships with people from nonprofits, businesses, and the other YMCA’s,” he said.
Of the latter, he made it a point to note that he has some literal homegrown empathy toward the more urban YMCA’s because his dad grew up in Alabama in the days of segregation.
Besides the leadership and operational aspect of his role of overseeing several inside directors and more than 150 staffers including those serving at the YMCA camp, he gets to do what he loves best, which includes a fluid relationship with his staff.
He was also geared and prepared for the job moving from the ground up.
“I had been with the YMCA for 25 years,” he said. “I started out at the front desk and graduated to be the front desk manager and moved up from there.”
He understands all of the responsibilities of his six directors because he’s literally “been there and done that.”
Beyond that, Thurman relishes mentoring the younger managers and workers in an informal manner and coming alongside younger YMCA members.
Cape Cod may have had its beaches, but Thurman is making waves right here in the greater capital district.
Robert J. LaCosta’s daily devotional, “Portals to Heaven,” is available by writing [email protected].