Preschoolers at the Fairfield YMCA were giving high fives to state Rep. Tony Hwang as he received the 2014 Legislative Champion Award from the Connecticut Alliance of YMCAs.
Hwang, who is currently serving his sixth term representing Fairfield and Trumbull in the General Assembly, accepted the award Oct. 2 during a ceremony on the steps of the downtown landmark building. The Alliance, which represents 325,000 members of 23 YMCAs in Connecticut, will also honor Hwang during its Y Leaders’ Diner on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at the Courtyard Marriott, 63 Grand St., Waterbury.
Each year the Alliance recognizes members of the Connecticut General Assembly who not only support the Y, but who also become strong advocates for them during the legislative session. “We like to recognize leaders in the legislature who are committed to the Y’s mission of strengthening communities, youth development, healthy living and social responsibility,” said John L. Cattelan, Executive Director of the Connecticut Alliance of YMCAs.
“Representative Hwang has long been an advocate of the CT Alliance of YMCAs’ mission, and has been a strong supporter of the YMCA’s commitment to fitness, child care, family programs and senior care. In particular, in 2014 he was an advocate for the Ys when the legislature was considering legislation that created the Office of Early Childhood,” said Karen Backus, Executive Director of the Fairfield YMCA. “I am proud to present this award to Rep. Tony Hwang.”
Elaborating on how Hwang has been an advocate and supporter of the YMCA, Backus added, “We rely on our state representatives immensely when there are bills that are important to us. I can personally call him and say, ‘Listen, here’s what’s coming up. We really need you to rally and we really need you to help the Y so we can continue our mission.’ And it’s just great because that’s what he’s done, for us and for all of our Ys in Connecticut.”
Stephen Geckeler, chairman of the Fairfield YMCA Board of Directors, said, “As part of the board and people that try to go out to build awareness in the community, it’s great to have someone like Tony, to know that he’s aware of what we do, know that he’s there at the state legislature doing what he can for us, and helping put out the word about what we do.”
Hwang is a familiar face at the YMCA in his hometown of Fairfield, and a lifelong fan of the organization.
“I am honored to receive this award from an organization that is such an integral part of our community, and whose mission aligns so perfectly with my own values,” Hwang said.
“As a child growing up in this country with both immigrant parents working, the YMCA was a haven. It was a haven for all of us to come, not only from the standpoint of fitness, but it was where we built friendships, we learned how to treat and interact with people in a respectful and socially responsible manner,” Hwang said. “The Y today is so much more than just sports. They have become one of the most important and utilized child care facilities in our region, and it has, through its ‘silver sneakers’ and ‘health swim’ programs, accommodated and promoted the health and wellness of seniors.”
YMCAs exist to strengthen our communities, and every day they serve thousands of children, women and men to ensure everyone — regardless of age, income or background — has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.