Union Y draws on experience to take on new challenges

Union Y draws on experience to take on new challenges

Incoming president seeks expansion, more involvement

RoAnna Pascher has taken over as president of the Union Y from Mark Bloomberg, who served for three years. Photos by Elaine Durbach
RoAnna Pascher has taken over as president of the Union Y from Mark Bloomberg, who served for three years. Photos by Elaine Durbach

Like so many nonprofits in the recession, the YM-YWHA of Union County saw its funding sources dwindle and its deficit soar from an estimated $58,000 to $120,000 over the past year, according to executive vice president Bryan Fox.

But the outlook has brightened in the past six months, he said.

“If things continue to progress, we should be able to shave $50,000 off that figure,” he said at the Y’s annual meeting on June 9. The savings have come from staff turnover — with no layoffs — some revenue increases, and cost-cutting wherever possible. That included at the dinner before the meeting, where the professional staff served the food instead of a hired wait staff.

The impact of the economy was a recurring theme of the meeting, which included the installation of new officers.

Incoming president RoAnna Pascher pledged to lead the Y “in a fiscally responsible way.” A financial consultant by profession, she described herself as a woman who enjoys dealing with numbers and taking charge.

“I grew up with three younger brothers,” she said with a smile.

In her inaugural speech, she said wants to expand the involvement of those who are already members, and to draw in more of those who drive by the Green Lane facility unaware of the services it offers.

Pascher, a mother of three from Elizabeth, praised the care her own children received at the Y.

Pascher’s predecessor, Mark Bloomberg of Elizabeth, talked about his three years as president of the Y, which cares so well for “babies and bubbies” and everyone in between. His new role is as chair of the Y’s fund-raising campaign. As one of his first acts in that position, he announced that he is establishing “Chai for Life,” which asks donors to make a lifetime pledge of $18 a month.

Bloomberg served three years as president, including an extra year after his initial two-year term.

The gathering was the 23rd such meeting for Fox. He, Bloomberg, and Pascher made a point of thanking the Y staff not only for their service, but also for their willingness to help with the budget woes by forgoing increases and “giving back” in terms of benefits.

Among the attendees was “chairman for life” Sol Kramer, a local developer and longtime benefactor of the Y. Despite a year of health struggles and a four-day spell in the hospital the previous week, the 89-year-old veteran was in fine form. He was characteristically blunt with Bloomberg. “When you started, you were a novice,” Kramer said, “but by this third year, you were pretty good.”

Bloomberg conferred the annual Abraham Izak President’s Award — which recognizes outstanding service by a staff member — on Susan Cohen, officer manager/executive secretary to Fox, whom he described as tireless in her service to the Y.

The Department of the Year Award went to the food service department. It was accepted by Bill Goldfischer, the retiree and supposedly part-time worker who has headed up the Y kitchen for many years. In the past year he and his staff prepared 61,000 kosher meals for senior citizens, preschoolers, and the meals-on-wheels program run by Jewish Family Service of Central New Jersey.

It was a double celebration for Goldfischer: June 9 was also his birthday, and he shared the good wishes — and a cake —with another “birthday boy,” newly inducted Y vice president Zvi Moskowitz, an accountant.

Included in the program was the announcement of donations to special funds. Clara Kramer, as she does each year, rose with a smile to announce a donation of $1,000 for “the wonderful care and education” of the summer campers; there were others for camp scholarships, for seniors, and for the greening of the picnic grounds.

There was also an additional gift for the seniors department — an unexpected bequest of $2,500 from the estate of Nat Bodian, longtime Y supporter and beloved chronicler of Newark, where so many of the center’s “bubbies” started their lives.

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