The Bright Spots – September 16, 2016

Hello Countryside Tribe Members!

As I type this email, 100 dachshunds are racing downtown to be crowned the winning wiener at the Running of the Wieners as the kickoff to Oktoberfest Zinzinnati!  How can you not love this town?
Speaking of love, I just participated in my fourth STAFF CHAMPION SELECTION meeting, which is one of my favorite “HR Tasks” that I get to participate in here at the Y.   Thanks to our third quarter winners, KAREN RICHARD, JAMIE EHRLICH, KATHY PETERSEN, JERRY ROTH, JASON WILLIAMS AND JOHN LUCIUS for their valuable input and fantastic selections!  Can’t wait to make our announcements for October, November and December!
Our Children’s Center staff did something really cool (again) this week.  They participated in a trike-a-thon for St. Judes and raised $1,765.00.  Wow!!! The center has been participating for over 25 years and has raised over $25,000 for St. Judes!! Amazing!


How many of you out there are Starbucks fans?  Whether you love their coffee or think it tastes horrible, Starbucks is renowned for great customer service.  They summarize their credos in something called “The Green Apron Book,” which apparently gives their employees the power to hypnotize customers into thinking a $5.00 coffee is totally worth it, and then COMING BACK FOR MORE. 
The central theme is called “The Five Ways of Being,” listed below.  Just about every bullet point in this list could be modified to fit the kind of customer experience we are striving for here at Countryside.

Be Welcoming – Offer everyone a sense of belonging

  • Provide uplifting experiences that enrich your customers’ daily lives
  • Greet customers when they walk through the door
  • Make eye contact with your customers
  • Start a conversation
  • Get to know your customers by drink or name
  • Anticipate and respond to your customers’ needs
  • Ensure your customer is your number one priority

Be Genuine – Connect, discover, respond

  • Always be aware that customer service is communicated verbally and nonverbally
  • Remember that basic service meets customers’ expectations; legendary service exceeds customers’ expectations
  • Focus on the positive, on what you can do, and not on what you can’t do
  • Be enthusiastic about your customers’ experience, and invite them back for another visit
  • Exceed expectations. Look for ways, both big and small, to let customers know they’re valued
  • Use your good judgment and common sense when making things right

Be Knowledgeable – Love what you do. Share it with others

  • Know what is special about the ways Starbucks selects, roasts, and packages our coffee
  • Familiarize yourself with the different coffee growing regions
  • Learn how to describe coffee – your customers expect you to be a coffee expert
  • It’s okay to not always know the answer. When you don’t know, find out
  • Remember that learning about coffee is an everyday adventure
  • Share your coffee knowledge, passion and excitement with partners and customers through coffee tastings. Enthusiasm is contagious

Be Considerate – Take care of yourself, each other and our environment

  • View the store from a customer’s perspective. How does it look and feel?
  • Take the initiative; when you see something that needs to be done, do it
  • Recognize partners for the effort and quality of work
  • Always be punctual – it affects customers, partners and store business
  • Contribute to a safe, secure and accident-free environment for everyone
  • Communicate to partners with openness and sincerity

Be Involved – In the store, in the company, in the community

  • Ensure our Purpose and Values are reflected in everything you do at work
  • Apply our Guiding Principles to the way you do business
  • Consider ways to become involved in your community
  • Be aware of the tone, spirit and energy of the store
  • Be a model of positivism
  • Enjoy taking on new challenges with your store team

Essentially… are you saying the following to yourself when you arrive at work and put on your name badge?

Get out your shades on and shine!
Have a great weekend,

The Bright Spots – February 12, 2016

Hello Countryside friends!

It’s cold outside, and I’ve had the kind of week that parallels the weather. Despite what the groundhog said last week, spring feels pretty far away and I can’t wait to walk around outside without having to bundle up like the Michelin Man!

It’s times like this when I look to my co-workers both here at Countryside and in the HR community to keep me pointed in the right direction! One blog in particular that seems to hit home in these moments is “Mark & Angel Hack Life” (sign up here:

Their post today was pretty timely for these dreary days of winter and I wanted to share “7 Things to Remember When Life Gets Tough (and you feel drained)”

“Oftentimes things have to go wrong in order to go right. In fact, if the road you’re traveling is always easy, you’re likely going the wrong way. Some part of you knows this is true. Nevertheless, when life gets especially rough, it can be hard to remember…

Truth be told, we all experience hard times, and we all get through them eventually. But some of us get through them more easily than others. What’s the secret? Most of it has to do with mindset. So here are seven important things to keep in mind when life gets rough:

1. These hard times are making you stronger and smarter. – It’s usually the deepest pain that empowers you to grow to your full potential. It’s the scary, stressful choices that end up being the most worthwhile. Without pain, there would be no change. But remember, pain, just like everything in life, is meant to be learned from and then released.

2. You are not a helpless victim. – You are the creator of your own experience. Yes, it is unfortunate that sometimes bad things happen to the best of people. Life can be unfair, unkind and unjust. However, being stuck in a victim mentality does not nurture your ability to move onward and upward. You’ve got to stand back up and take positive steps to heal and grow. (covered in the “Pain & Hardship” module of “Getting Back to Happy”)

3. There is no such thing as failure (only important lessons learned). – You should just wipe the word “failure” right out of your vocabulary. All great people who have ever achieved anything have “failed” over and over. In fact, Thomas Edison once said, “I never once failed at inventing the light bulb, I just found 99 ways that it didn’t work at first.” Take your so-called failures and learn something from them. Learn how to do it better next time.

4. If you don’t get something you want, it just means something better is waiting. – This is hard to believe sometimes, I know. But it’s true. Oftentimes, when you look back at your life you will be able to see why it was actually good that something didn’t work out. Maybe the job you didn’t get would have made you spend more time away from your family, but the job you did get was more flexible. Just have faith that everything happens for a reason. It may not be obvious at first, but it will make sense eventually. (covered in the “Happiness & Positive Living” module of “Getting Back to Happy”)

5. Things can and will change. – “And this too shall pass” is one of my favorite sayings. When we are stuck in a bad situation, it may seem there is no way out. We think nothing will ever change. But guess what? It will! Nothing is permanent. So get out of the habit of thinking that things will always be this way. They won’t. But, remember, you do need to take some sort of action for things to change. It won’t magically happen all on its own.

6. If you want things to change now, you need to start by changing yourself. – Your outer world is a reflection of your inner world. Do you know people whose lives are unnecessarily chaotic and stressful? And isn’t their situation largely because they feel chaotic inside? Yes, it is. We like to think that changing our external circumstances will change us. But we have it backwards – we need to change ourselves first before our circumstances will begin to change. (covered in the “Goals & Growth” module of “Getting Back to Happy”)

7. Anything is possible going forward. – Miracles happen every day. Really, they do! I wish I had enough space in this email to write about all the miraculous things that have happened to people I know – from healing stage 4 pancreatic cancer to having their soul mate appear out of nowhere in the most unlikely place. Trust me: it happens all the time. You just need to believe it does. Once you do, you’re halfway there.

And of course, if you’re struggling with any of this, know that you are not alone. Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and get our lives back on track.”

Another great thing to do when you’re not feeling so hot (physically or mentally!) is to reach out and help someone else. Some wise words…


“So then you decide, ‘Well, I’m sick of myself.

I’m going to think of how other people can be happy. I’m going to get up in the morning and think, what can I do for even one other person, even a dog, my dog, my cat, my pet, my butterfly?’

And the first person who gets happy when you do that … you.”

– Bob Thurman (1941 – )
American scholar and Buddhist monk

Countryside, via our Annual Campaign, gives you a forum to do something for others. Whether you volunteer at a campaign event, attend the gala or sign up for payroll to deduct a bi-weekly contribution, you are making a difference in someone’s life via our outreach and other programs. Your supervisors will likely be talking about this over the next few weeks, and I’ve attached Our Mission Impact Statement if you need a quick refresher on the items that are funded by the Campaign. If you, or someone you know, would be interested in working as an Ambassador for the campaign, please reach out to DEBRA PHILLIPS or ANITA PELLETIER for details on trainings, etc.

Also, congrats to NANCY HALSTEAD who was our Bright Spots Gift Card winner for January! I’ve attached the cards for all who received a shout out for being awesome!! Please keep turning them in!

Stay warm this weekend and be careful out there on the pavement!


The Bright Spots – Weekly Roundup, January 29, 2016

Hello Mind/Body/Spirit Warriors!! 

Welp, we’ve just about made it through January 2016!  It’s been a pretty January-ish month, and if you’re anything like me you are pining for the sunshine and warm air of spring.

This is my first “New Years Resolutions” month as an employee of the Y, and it has been hard to miss the increase in humans and decrease in available parking spaces.  I want to thank all of you who continue to follow our instructions to park in the far out “employee” area and make the long cold trek across the windy pavement. 
Also a shout out to our welcome center/front desk/membership teams who have to field the extra questions, tours, paperwork that come with the New Year’s rush.  
It’s easy in these glum months to overlook the extra effort some folks are putting in, so I wanted to pass this on in the hopes you’ll express your appreciation when someone goes above and beyond:
Speaking of appreciation, I forgot to announce earlier this month that our Bright Spots Random Draw Winner was BECCA COLEMAN!! Congrats Becca!  I’ve attached copies of the awesome cards we received in December, and will be making another random draw next Monday.  Thanks to everyone who has participated in this Staff Recognition Program!   ROBIN TRAINER is on point with her shout outs!
Last week was the maiden voyage for our incredible gymnastics team in their new facility!  PEGGY HOFFMAN was able to forward me this awesome video capture of the event by Ron Alvey!  Peggy noted:
 “Our Gymnastics Meet was a “clean sweep” All levels took 1st place as a team at our our Home meet this weekend. Way to Go Team!!!! 
Thanks front desk, North entry desk and Lower level desk for welcoming all the team families and friends. They all loved our Y and our new gymnastics facility!
We are creeping towards a big few months in the renovation.  Things are going to get dirty and there’s going to be a lot of questions coming your way from members.  Please make sure to follow Mike’s updates and take a moment to digest the update flyers and signage that is being placed around the facility. Your ability to keep a positive attitude about these changes will be key with members, even when the messaging feels like:
We’re also heading into campaign season.  In case you missed it, Y National has released two excellent videos which can be seen here and here  We’ll talk more about the Campaign and what it does for the community in subsequent weeks.
Again, THANKS your part in making our Y a place where we are genuinely building better people!
Great job
Have a great weekend!

The Bright Spots – January 15, 2016

“We spend January 1 walking through our lives, 
room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, 
cracks to be patched.
Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to
walk through the rooms of our lives… 
not looking for flaws, but for potential.”
— Ellen Goodman
Two weeks late, but Happy New Year everyone!  I wanted to share this quote, because when I think of Countryside and our impact on hearts/minds/bodies/spirits there is indeed so much POTENTIAL here.  
The splash and ripple that we talk about in Changing Lives training is a very real illustration of potential… Splashes (outputs) become Ripples (outcomes) which move outward over time. Splashes cover a smaller area than ripples do. One activity or one action may involve a small number of people, but that just as a splash yields ever widening ripples, the benefits of the activity and its output spread beyond the initial group of participants to include other people. It is in the zone of the ripples that a project generates important social changes.
Countryside Y is a natural venue in which we can create important social change in Warren County.  Without thinking very hard, I was able to come up with a quick list of things we will accomplish together in 2016 via our Caring for Families Campaign and other departmental programs, and that’s just stuff that is on the radar…  who knows what other opportunities may crop up as we journey along…   We’ll do things like:
  • Provide PRESCHOOL AND SUMMER CAMP EXPERIENCES for children in need via outreach programming
  • Provide FINANCIAL SUPPORT to families needing assistance with program and membership fees
  • Teach children in our child care and local elementary schools HOW TO SWIM
  • SMILE at someone on a day when they really need it
  • Create HEALTHY BODIES through our exercise, sports and fitness programming and classes
  • Improve reading scores of under served youth in the King’s District through SWIM TO READ
  • Develop skills like dance, cooking, pottery and more in our new ARTS & EDUCATION programming area, which will be up and running soon
  • Offer a safe space for FAMILIES and CHILDREN to spend time together in a meaningful way
  • Select TWELVE STAFF CHAMPIONS from our awesome staff to receive recognition from their peers for outstanding work and demonstration of our mission
  • Grit our teeth and know that despite the inconvenience, the facility will be improved for the better via the renovation
  • Hold awesome events like the Countryside Gala in March, the Applefest Run and Mud-O-Ween in the fall
  • Support parents through parenting workshops, Blessed Respite and preteen overnights
  • Provide parents some much needed exercise and/or alone time, knowing their children are safe in our CHILD WATCH area
  • Work with Lebanon City Schools’s student athletes on SPEED AND AGILITY, as well as LIFEGUARD TRAINING for high school students
  • Coach and/or train a person who never thought they’d take the initiative to get back in shape
I could go on… but you get the idea.  With POTENTIAL (splash) comes IMPACT (ripple), and every person who works in this facility is a vital part of that impact.   
I’m pretty proud of that, and I hope you are too. 
SO…  if your attitude adjustment plan for 2016 consists the following:
improve your attitude
… I hope you’ll reconsider and think about the things you, as an awesome human being, can do to help us reach our potential this year.
We got this.
Have a great weekend!

Weekly Photo Challenge – Gathering

<a href="">Gathering</a>

 Well the timing of this one couldn’t have been better!  Yesterday was our staff “Holiday Brunch & Munch” at Countryside, and we had a ball.  It’s a bit tough to get 600+ employees who work anywhere from 5:30 am – 10:00 pm, but between two servings, a stacked dessert “bake off” table and the hot cocoa bar, plenty of sugar was consumed and plenty of us will need to keep exercising.  Good thing we work in the largest YMCA in the country!

The Bright Spots – Weekly Roundup, December 4, 2015

Hello friends!
Hope this finds everyone happy and healthy post-Thanksgiving and ready to dig in for the remainder of the holiday season!  Just in case you need a little help to let you know EXACTLY how much time you have left to shop before Christmas, the internet has you covered HERE: though in the end I think the message below is the best present ever. 
I was very pleased to see the following tweet with a lovely compliment regarding our engagement coach Jennifer Schultz!
Thanks to Nick Kneer for bringing that to my attention!
Also, a HUGE round of applause for our MARKETING and MEMBERSHIP teams, who engineered the Black Friday specials held last month and set a RECORD number of memberships on November 30th!  
We also had a TON of Bright Spots last month!  Congratulations to KARLA TOYE for winning our random draw! Karla gets a $25 gift card for being awesome!  Thanks to Laura Roble for participating by nominating Karla!  All November Bright Spots are attached to this email.
We will also soon be selecting our next four STAFF CHAMPION winners!  Have you nominated anyone this quarter?  Reminder:  Staff Champion is for PART- TIME staff who go above and beyond their normal duties! 
Nomination form is attached!
Get our your festive hats!
It’s almost time for our STAFF HOLIDAY BRUNCH & MUNCH!  Please save the date for December 17th between either the hours of 11-1 or 5-6!  We WILL be having a bake-off so please start thinking about what recipe you want to show off and become locally famous for!  More details will be forthcoming next week!
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 As you go about your business this weekend, don’t forget!
​See you next week!

Bright Spots – Weekly Roundup, August 7, 2015

Hi everyone!

It’s a sunny Friday morning, which is fantastic!   To be honest, after such a rainy start to the summer our counselors must feel like:
As usual, it has been a busy and productive week at Countryside.  For one thing, we have a new marketing coordinator!  Say hello to Nick Kneer!
Nick has previously worked for the Blue Ash YMCA as well as the Cincinnati Center for Autism.  He has a wonderful background in Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop), Acrobat and InDesign and is excited to work with us on increasing our social media presence, developing and maintaining our website and continuing to produce beautiful marketing materials for our programs!  If you are near the front desk, pop by and introduce yourself to Nick!
Our Torpedoes swim team has been in Indianapolis this week participating in the 2015 YMCA Long Course National Championship meet.  We are proud of our team!  Details on results will be forthcoming next week!
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On Tuesday, we shared our parking lot with the Lebanon Police Department for its 2015 National Night Out event!  Lots of activities were provided, including a SWAT display, Lebanon’s newest K-9 officer Brix, crime prevention tips, child ID kits, entertainment, DJ, inflatable bounce houses, giveaways and refreshments. 
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An unanticipated employee perk of this event was that, for the day, we got to park outside the designated employee area!  I saw this a few times.
Mr Bean
Holly is still in need of MANY volunteers for the Healthy Kids Triathlon, which will be held in TWO WEEKS on AUGUST 22.  Please check out the staff website and click on the links to select a slot where you can help!
If you need a little push to click that link, remember this!
Have a great weekend everyone!

Weekly Photo Challenge – Beneath Your Feet

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Beneath Your Feet.”

Behold the wonder that is Super Slimy Messy Summer Camp Week at Countryside YMCA!


Art is about the messy and marvelous business of coming to your senses – and also, to the senses of the world.” —Michael Leunig


Weekly Roundup – July 24, 2015


Wow, what a week!  So much to share!! 
Mother Nature has finally decided to work with us on some decent summer weather, renovation construction is rolling, we’ve survived a phone outage and eaten a LOT of barbecue!!!
Speaking of barbecue, LARA SURFUS is a shoo-in as a “bright spot” this week for getting all that delicious food together for us!  THANK YOU LARA!! We were thrilled that so many of you were able to stop by and enjoy!! 
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In the category of “most likely to transport multiple meals on a flotation device” we have the lifeguards:
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Speaking of lifeguards, it appears that lots of fun was had at last week’s lifeguard summer party:
Looking for some creativity in action?  Swing by the child care center and check out the cute summer door decorations!!  BTW, child care has open spaces for fall preschool – see Yvonne for details. 
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CONGRATS to all child care staff for making it another week without succumbing to the following method of containing an active toddler:
Here is AMY ROSE after Cincinnati  Bell told her we might be without phone service for 3-4 days:
Huge thanks to Amy for toughing it out as she was incessantly transferred from provider to provider in an attempt to figure out what had happened to the phone lines.  Her experience is exactly what we do NOT want to emulate when it comes to customer service.
The last bright spot I will mention this week came from a member regarding CHRISTY BESSEY.  She stated: “I would like to recognize Christy for all she does for everyone that enters her spin class.  She is always making the class fun and exciting with games and prizes.  She supports our class throughout the week with texts and Facebook.  If she knows you are doing any kind of race or activity, she will get you a card and a little gift.  She truly cares about the YMCA members.  ❤ her!! ”  What a great compliment, way to go Christy!!
This is the kind of feedback we can expect when we :
As the sun sets on this busy week, please remember the wise words of the ever-fantastic Walt Disney:
Also, don’t forget to get your nominations in by NEXT FRIDAY (JULY 31) for STAFF CHAMPION selection!!  Go to, login and look for the link at the bottom of the “Staff Resources” drop down menu.
Have a great weekend everyone!

Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge


“The truth is like a lion.  You don’t have to defend it.  Let it loose.  It will defend itself.” — St. Augustine

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Half and Half.”