New YMCA director is ready to build a healthy future

Fourth graders Angel Palacios, 9, and Crystal Villagomez, 9, work to solve a match problem with the help of YMCA leader Jael Guardino Thursday at the YMCA at Sunnyslope Elementary School.

Andy Weighill, the recently hired regional executive director of the San Benito County and Watsonville YMCAs, has 12 years of experience at YMCAs around the country.
Weighill was a senior program director at a YMCA in Detroit for many years and then became the executive director of the South Dade YMCA in Miami. In Hollister, he replaced outgoing Executive Director Rochelle Callis in July.
In an interview with Free Lance, Weighill said he “loved” the Hollister community and that he felt more at home here than in any of his other positions.
“The biggest difference, for me, is the people,” he said. “The people here are as genuine and as welcoming as people I’ve met.”
He said the decision to move to California – after he had spearheaded the project to upgrade the YMCA facility in South Dade costing more than $12 million – was an easy one.
“I had always wanted to live on the West Coast,” he said. “It was a good fit for me.”
Weighill said the local YMCA is looking to expand by either building a new facility down the line or expanding its current building on Tres Pinos Road. The director said some capital toward revitalization of the Y has come from the Community Foundation for San Benito County.
“We are in our infant stages,” he said.
The YMCA board is looking to fund a new needs-adjustment survey, which the county organization hasn’t done since 2003, said Weighill. One of the needs is expanding the YMCA’s current space, he said.
Otherwise, he said the big focus of the YMCA in Hollister is health and human wellness, as well as youth development and social responsibility.
“From a social responsibility side, we do very well,” he said. “We’re one of the two largest community development programs in the county.”
The director, originally from Michigan, noted how the YMCA helps run the middle school children’s sports programs, which include about 150 students.
“Health and wellness is a big thing for us,” he said.
The YMCA has more than 6,000 square feet and 106 full-time members, including 22 classes, as well as a program called “50 Moving Forward,” a fitness class for Baby Boomer-age adults in the area.
“With the existing space, we’re going to bring in more equipment,” he said.
He said along with the Baby Boomer outreach, the YMCA is also looking to broaden its appeal to younger generations.
“We’re a walk-by/drive-by YMCA,” he said. “We want to design the space here so it’s attractive to use.”
He said his mission since coming on board is to grow the YMCA and promote health and wellness.
“If we can grow things here, we can solidify the need for the YMCA,” he said.

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