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Sumter's Chuck Fienning is Humanitarian of the Year

YMCA’s highest annual honor announced at year in review luncheon

BY KAYLA GREEN
kayla@theitem.com
Posted 1/28/20

At the Sumter Family YMCA's annual meeting, they did not tell the numbers. They told the stories.

The stories came in the form of the new programs the staff highlighted of life-changing impacts people made on the lives of members. Those impacts …

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Sumter's Chuck Fienning is Humanitarian of the Year

YMCA’s highest annual honor announced at year in review luncheon

Posted

At the Sumter Family YMCA's annual meeting, they did not tell the numbers. They told the stories.

The stories came in the form of the new programs the staff highlighted of life-changing impacts people made on the lives of members. Those impacts were honored on Thursday at The O'Donnell House with awards such as Employee of the Year and Volunteer of the Year, all leading up to the announcement of the Y's biggest annual award, Humanitarian of the Year.

Humanitarians of the Year are those who make a large impact on the community over their lifetime. They can make a difference, and they make it their life mission to do so, Sumter YMCA CEO John Hoffman said.

From his impact in leading Sumter Packaging Corp. for 25 years and the jobs he created for Sumterites to his service on Sumter County Council to his constant willingness to support community groups philanthropically, Chuck Fienning loves the Y.

Fienning has been involved in groups spanning Sumter, from the Sumter Rotary Club, where he became the first member to be named Rotarian of the Year twice, to the Sumter Development Board, Sumter County Library board.

His love for what every team member at the Y will say is more than just a gym is that individuals and families can indulge in three important life attributes: fun, fitness and fellowship.

"They're on a team, and their effort and love for Sumter is like I've never seen," Roy Creech said.

The Y is a critical asset for Sumter, something that is not replicated in its ability to provide healthy, fun and engaging activity.

That asset helped Max Bohn surpass barriers, both mental and physical, after recovering from addiction. Now at the age of 74, he completed his first Spartan Race and was awarded this year's John M. Mahon Spirit Award at the annual meeting.

Having the Y as a place for adults and children alike has helped members of the community regain their health, strengthen their faith and grow their connection with those around them.

The Y is the only place where there is a team of people who will teach you how to exercise, said Dr. Francis Roosevelt Gilliam III, a cardiologist and electrophysiologist with Prisma Health. He said in today's automated world where you can work a high-paying job by pushing buttons or sitting at a computer, having access to a community health and fitness space is the "single most important health facility in the region."

He said we wait until there is a problem to solve it when it comes to our health. We wait until there is a fire to put it out.

Not at the Y. He'd rather see people as neighbors and friends at the gym than in patients in the hospital.

Staff members told the stories of that at the meeting. Of kids who came out of their shells, of adults who found physical, emotional and spiritual meaning by going to the gym.

Of a volunteer who finds the patience for watching dozens of children at a time in the pool and of a basketball coach who is working to build meaningful relationships with Sumter's youth.

The stories were told to signify the impact the Y had over the last year, and the numbers, because the organization is required to review them annually with its board, told the same story.

The Y gave $139,000 in scholarships in 2019 and ended the financial year with $122,922 in net revenue. It started five new health and fitness programs.

A main focus in what was Charles Bostic's year as board president was to pay off debt, and after owing $1 million in debt when he came on board, the organization is expected to be debt free by December.

It takes a team to make the stories come true, and that's what Fienning said he can find every day at the Y - the ability to rejoice, pray and give thanks.

BOX

2019 Sumter Family YMCA award recipients

John M. Mahon Spirit Award - Max Bohn

Employee of the Year - Lisa Horace

Volunteer of the Year - Linda Lavendar

Youth Volunteer of the Year - Onyx Torres

Burke Watson Service to Youth Award - Coach Dre McBride

Humanitarian of the Year - Chuck Fienning