Celebrating Volunteers for National Volunteer Month

9 April 2018

Y volunteer reminds us all what it means to be a humble servant to our community.

John Settle’s life is one of service—humble, authentic, consistent service. John has served in the United States Coast Guard for 37 years and the Commonwealth of Virginia for 30 years, currently leading compliance enforcement for the Department of Environmental Quality. Raised by a single father in Richmond, John was introduced to the Y at the age of six through swim lessons and summer camp. The Y became an extension of his family, helping his father, a B-17 pilot in World War II, raise John and his sister with the strength of character that has since informed John’s commitment to family, faith, and community.

A former marathon runner and triathlete, John joined the Y here in Hampton Roads in the early 1990s to enhance his cross training. It didn’t take long for his call to service and commitment to community to extend to the Y, as well. John became a Y volunteer in 1995, after former Chief Operating Officer, Tom Flynn, overheard John sharing his Y story with a fellow member in the locker room. Since that day, John has served on the board at the Mt. Trashmore Family YMCA, most recently as Chair, as well as the Corporate Board of Directors, including the Operations and Finance Committees. Just as his father turned to the Y as a trusted place to foster strong core values within his sister and himself, John engaged the Y in his family’s life once he became a father. John’s children attended Y preschool, afterschool, and summer camp programs. As his children grew, the Y remained a consistent part of their family story. “The Y has been interwoven into our life. The Y became a part of our family,” John says. “Our life is so in line with the mission and core values of the Y, it’s easy to be a part of it.”

John compares his role at the Y to a Swiss Army knife -- he chooses the right tool from his years of civilian and military experience to match the Y’s needs and challenges. When asked what he looks for in other Y volunteers, John recalls the day over twenty years ago when he was overheard in the locker room. “I look for the ‘locker room ambassador’. Someone who acts the same in the locker room as he does in the lobby. I want to know the Clark Kent under the Superman cape.”

This April, as we celebrate National Volunteer Month, we recognize John for his humble, authentic, and consistent service to the Y, to his community, and to his family. “We are an organization that does so much more,” John says. And with the support of over 8,400 volunteers like John who give of their time and talent to the Y each year, we can do even more. 

Contact your local family center to learn more about volunteer opportunities at your Y— from board service to coaching youth sports and member services to teaching swim lessons —there is something for everyone!