March 2017

From the Director: Annual Campaign Makes Y Open to All

     Many of our members may think of the Y just as a great gym. But the reality is that the Y is so much more than a gym. We’re a cause, a nonprofit with wide-reaching impact in our community. And now more than ever, we want to ensure that everyone can be a part of the Y.

     As our Annual Campaign kicks off this month, we’ll have a chance to share the story behind the story and give you a chance to help write our next chapter.

     Our Y’s total mission impact last year – including direct Y Assistance, indirect subsidies, education, outreach and facility use – was $488,800. That figure surprises many people, but it’s the total of what we give back to the two counties we serve, creating a significant benefit to the community.

     That level of impact is made possible largely through gifts to our Annual Campaign, our special effort to share our story and ask members and friends to get involved by making a charitable gift to the Y.

     The spirit of the campaign is really quite simple. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to share in the Y experience, even if they can’t afford it on their own. The Annual Campaign is your chance to make a gift to the Y that will help us guarantee that experience is open to all.

     And while the numbers are important, it’s really the stories of individuals whose lives have been touched by the Y that make the campaign special: stories of parents whose children have benefitted from after-school programs so they can continue working; stories of physically and mentally challenged individuals who make great progress from the wellness opportunities at the Y; stories of seniors who find not just physical activity but also social interaction and a support system from fellow members. This is what makes us unique.

     Members just like you will volunteer to tell the Y story and will invite you to make a gift. Yes, we all pay membership dues, which cover the cost of running our branches – staffing them with employees, buying equipment and supplies, paying utilities and maintenance, etc. The dollars contributed to the campaign help us to reach out to those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to be part of the Y. So when a volunteer asks you to listen for a minute about why this campaign is important, we hope you will learn more about our Y and consider making a charitable gift that will ensure everyone can enjoy the same Y experience that you do.

     A big thanks to those volunteers who are already working behind the scenes to prepare for the campaign and to guarantee that we can serve everyone – especially those individuals who need the Y the most, yet who can afford it the least.

     Visit our mission impact page to learn more.

By Andrea Rosenbaum, Director of Advancement


Parking Update: Bear Levin Studer Family Branch

     Progress on the parking garage immediately north of the branch is in full swing. Contractors anticipate the garage will be completed in late April/May. As soon as they receive a certificate of occupancy, Y members will have access to the garage.

     The entire garage will have multiple levels, including an upper deck reserved for owners of the apartments, which are slated to open in early 2018. The bottom levels will be shared space for Y members, future tenants of the office building under construction just west of the branch, and daily users willing to pay an hourly rate.

     Y members will not be charged a fee to access the garage or to park for a designated time per visit (still to be determined). Upon entry, members will receive a parking stub. We will have a simple and quick process in place for you validate your stub inside the branch.

     We know that the parking situation has been challenging for everyone since we opened the new branch, and we have done everything we reasonably can to improve your experience. We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we work through this together, knowing that the parking situation will improve dramatically next month.


Member Spotlight: Jodi Daniel Cooke

Jodi Daniel Cooke traces two pursuits that occupy a lot of her time – the practice of law and her membership and volunteer roles at the Y – to her late grandfather, Nixon Daniel, a named partner at Beggs & Lane and a loyal Y volunteer.

Jodi Cooke and family     “My choice of law and my place at the Y go back to him,” Jodi says. “Family is very important to me.”

       That explanation of her law career is definitely more inspiring than her first response – which involved her slight surprise at her strong performance on the LSAT without much preparation. Jodi never knew Nixon Daniel, as he passed away when her father was just 19, but “I grew up hearing stories,” she says, stories that provided inspiration.

      After spending nearly eight years herself with Beggs & Lane, in September 2015 she opened the Pensacola office of Stichter, Riedel, Blain & Postler, P.A., where she practices commercial insolvency law and commercial litigation. She is a University of Florida law graduate who received her undergrad degree from UWF.

     A native of Pensacola, she never really considered living anywhere else. “This is home. It’s not as big and sexy as some other cities, but it’s hard to beat,” she says, specifically citing the recent downtown revitalization as the final draw to her hometown. Plus, her entire extended family lives here.

     A self-proclaimed Type A personality, Jodi admits she doesn’t sit still often or do just one thing at a time. That energy fuels her drive at work and at play. She will be inducted as president of the local bar association in July, one of the youngest to hold that spot; she’s a member of the Board of Directors for the Keeping Abreast Foundation, which advocates for and raises money for breast cancer awareness; and she’s an active member of First Baptist Church.

     In addition, she joined the Board of Directors for the YMCA this year and this month will serve as chair of the community phase of the Annual Campaign in Pensacola. The campaign offers members and friends of the YJodi Cooke in with son a chance to make a tax-deductible charitable gift to the Y so that the organization can offer financial assistance to individuals, youth and families who might not otherwise be able to participate in Y membership and programs.

     A Y member off and on for years, Jodi has been continuously active since 2013. You’ll often find her working out with her fiancé, Harold Arnold, at the Bear Levin Studer Family Branch. He had been a member for years, but they actually met online. Now the Y has become a common hobby for them to pursue together. “I needed him to get me here,” she admits. The Y is such a second home for the couple that they had engagement photos taken at the old Downtown Branch, some of which included 6-year-old Harold Arnold V, whom they affectionately called “Little Man.”

     The two had never met at the Y or had any common friends when they met online, but it’s been an unconventional pairing that works. “On paper we are different in every possible way, but it’s the stuff you can’t put on paper that works,” Jodi says. “He’s had to stop flying by the seat of his pants, and he helps me not take myself so seriously.”

     In addition to their time at the Y, the two also enjoy traveling. She says Wales was a favorite destination because it was the site of their engagement, but anywhere in Europe and Napa, California, are also high on her list.

     The Y is an easy fit for her life, Jodi says. “What’s not to love? Everything the Y does for kids, the underprivileged, people with disabilities is all completely above and beyond just membership,” she says. “The Y makes it easy for members to give back, plus I love knowing I have a place that’s an outlet, where I’m going to be recognized, welcomed and missed.”

By Andrea Rosenbaum, Director of Advancement


Program Corner: Spring Break Camps at our Northeast and Navarre Locations!

     Spring Break is right around the corner, and our branches have just the place for your kids to stay safe and burn off energy during those days off school. Make plans now to register your child or children for spring break camp at either the Northeast branch in Pensacola or the Betty J. Pullum branch in Navarre. Registration for both branches is open and limited. Please register at the Welcome Center at your branch by filling out a registration form and making payment for each child that will attend the camp.

Pullum Branch (Navarre)

March 17, 2017- one day holiday camp (Santa Rosa County School Planning Day):

6 am-6 pm; $20/Household Members; $40/program participants

March 20-24, 2017- spring break week holiday camp:

6 am-6 pm; $20/day Household Members; $40/day program participants

For either camp each child should bring their own sack lunch with a drink. An afternoon snack will be provided by the Y. Please leave all playing or trading cards, portable video game systems and other toys at home. The Y will not be responsible for these items if lost; stolen or removed from the camp participant.

Northeast Branch:

March 20-24, 2017- spring break week holiday camp:

6:30 am-6 pm; $60/week for Household Members; $120/week for program participants

Each child should bring a non-perishable sack lunch. An afternoon snack will be provided by the Y. Drinks will be available for purchase at lunch time and in the afternoon. Please leave all playing or trading cards, portable video game systems and other toys at home. The Y will not be responsible for these items if lost; stolen or removed from the camp participant. 

By Angela Stephens, Childcare Director, Northeast Branch and Jane Toney, Interim Childcare Director, Betty J. Pullum


Exercising Together: KidFit Classes at Betty J. Pullum Branch, Navarre

          Regular exercise is so very important for children ages 5-17. The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition states that only one in three children are physically active every day. The
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention states that regular physical activity in adolescence improves strength, endurance, helps build healthy bones and muscles, helps control weight, reduces anxiety and increases self-esteem.

KidFit          The elementary schools in Navarre do not offer a formal physical education class for their students; and all recreational extracurricular activities are done through outside youth sports programs, not through the school system. Youth programs can be costly and inaccessible for many families.

          The Pullum Family YMCA offers children ages 5-12 the unique opportunity to participate in aerobic classes three days a week. Jessica Crider, a minster’s wife and mother of three, teaches our KidFit classes and she is an amazing instructor and role model. Having taught this class for over three years Jessica brings an array of experience, knowledge of exercise and a gift for connecting with children. She not only instructs them on how to perform exercises, she also teaches them the names of muscles they are working, and the how they are connected to actions in their body.

          We offer KidFit classes to our adolescent Y members as well as to students that participate in our YMCA after-school program. We currently have between 30-40 children participating in our KidFit program. TheKidFit children have the opportunity to experience three different formats of class during the week: Mondays, we have a stretching class focusing on elongating the muscles; Tuesdays, we offer a Kid Boot Camp utilizing agility ladders, ropes, steps and risers; and on Wednesdays Jessica teaches Kid Kickboxing which incorporates self-defense and safety awareness. These classes are a great way for our children to release all that wonderful energy they have and help them sleep better at night.

          We are thrilled that we can provide this service for our community because we sincerely believe that children are our future and that we need to keep them healthy!

By Christine McLeod

Program/Wellness Director, Betty J. Pullum Branch


Health Focus: Pros and cons of a Paleo Diet

          One of the most popular diets today among health-conscious consumers is the Paleo diet. It harkens back to the time of the cavemen and advertises a meal plan based only on foods that our wandering ancestors would have eaten. The diet includes free-range meats and seafood, fruit, vegetables, nuts and healthy oil products. At first glance, this may seem like the ultimate path towards optimal nutrition and health, but is it all that it’s cracked up to be?

          One huge pro of the Paleo diet is that it emphasizes freshly grown produce and meats from animals that are raised naturally. This provides animal protein sources that are not filled with hormones and antibiotics, and also encourages large quantities of fruits and vegetables, which are rich in fiber, vitamin and minerals. Likewise, the diet plan also recommends fats that come predominately from mono- and polyunsaturated sources and advocates limiting sodium consumption by eating whole foods rather than processed ones.

While these are great principles that would be encouraged by any nutrition expert, the complete restriction of grains and dairy products is concerning. These two major food groups are often primary sources of calcium, B vitamins, and fiber for many people. Sure, you can get calcium from green leafy vegetables like spinach, but you have to eat 10 cups of spinach to equal the same about of calcium in one 8oz. glass of milk. Similarly, restricting carbohydrates to only 35%-45% of total calorie intake is severe based on the fact that the body’s preferred fuel source is carbohydrates. Why make your body work unnecessarily to convert protein and fats into a useable energy? Also, consuming a diet that is 35% protein can be harmful to your kidneys in the long run. So overall, although the concept of eating fresh and natural foods is a good one, it might be wise to consider some balance before eliminating entire food sources from your current diet.


1) Cordain L. The paleo diet premise. The Paleo Diet Website. Updated 2015. Accessed March 2, 2015.

2) Mahan LK, Escott-Stump S and Raymond JL. Krause’s Food and the Nutrition Care           Process. 13th ed. St. Louis, MI: Elsevier, Inc.; 2011.


Staff Member Spotlight: Betty J. Pullum Branch –Autumn Navarro

Autumn Navarro


What is your role at the Y? – Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor.

What classes do you teach at the Y? – I teach 11 group fitness classes per week and I have 3 Body Challenge groups that I work with, including a Senior Body Challenge group. I will be adding water aerobics classes to my class list this summer

What do you enjoy most about being on staff at the Y?Interacting with members and helping others enjoy fitness.

What is a memorable experience working in your field?I worked as a trainer on the television series Extreme Weight Loss.

What tip would you give members trying to achieve a healthy lifestyle?Take baby steps, set attainable goals, keep it simple.