The New Tampa Family YMCA in Tampa Palms has a new executive director at its helm.
Robyn Ostrem, 46, relocated to Tampa from Chicago last month to accept the position that seemed tailor-made for her. It opened up right when her husband, Matt, decided to retire from a career in law enforcement.
“It was always our hope to land in Florida when that happened,” says Ostrem, who is in the process of finding a new home for her family in Tampa. Her husband Matt, their two daughters and the family’s Labrador retriever will arrive in our area in June.
“Three weeks in, and I love everything about my new post,” she says. “I’ve met such great people, and you can’t beat the weather!”
Ostrem’s passion for the YMCA grew from her beginnings at Big Brothers Big Sisters in Chicago, where she ran a suburban branch of the agency for 13 years. A major donor took notice of Ostrem’s skills and persuaded her to transition in 2013 to the Sage YMCA of Metro Chicago, where she served as executive director for the past five years.
“One of my favorite parts of working in the Y movement is community connectedness,” she says. “YMCAs are pivotal parts of communities across the U.S., and New Tampa is no exception.”
The New Tampa facility opened in 2001 and is located at 16221 Compton Dr. It is a popular staple in the area for its family events, fitness classes and volunteer opportunities.
“The Y is an amazing resource for families; we’re grateful for their summer camp and affordable programming,” said member Catherine Mund on Facebook. “We moved here in the last year, and the Y helped make New Tampa home.”
Members enjoy a robust selection of amenities, including a full gym, group sports for children and adults, and even the City of Tampa’s only Olympic-sized (50 meters long) swimming pool.
Ostrem says she is excited about what she sees as enormous potential for her new workplace. “This is a large, robust center with dedicated staff, members and advisory board,” she says. “Collectively, these groups will bring innovative programming and an excellent experience to the community, along with raising much-needed funds to support our Open Doors program.”
The Open Doors initiative, currently established in many YMCA facilities around the country, allows residents who are struggling financially to apply for a membership on a sliding fee scale.
“The New Tampa community is fortunate to have a YMCA here,” said Ostrem, who says she has an open-door policy and welcomes input from members. “You can expect some transformation projects in the coming years, and I’m elated to assist!”
Ostrem’s first major project as executive director will be the Safety Around Water program, which will provide free swim lessons for children aged 3-12, whether or not they are YMCA members.
The four-day course, taught by certified instructors for one week in May and one week in September, teaches children the skills to reduce the risk of drowning and increase their confidence in and around water.
Camp Extravaganza, an open event on Saturday, April 27, 1 p.m.-4 p.m., will feature the Healthy Kids Day initiative and offer family activities, vendors, raffles, treats and more.
Ostrem entirely credits YMCA volunteers with the New Tampa Y’s success, particularly the Board of Directors, which she hopes to expand in the coming years.
“My vision is to bring the Y into the community by being more visible, aligning our selfless leadership staff with service opportunities and assisting other nonprofits to further their missions,” she says.
Among the six volunteers on the New Tampa Family YMCA board is Steve Young, who was honored as the New Tampa Y’s 2019 “Volunteer of the Year” during the Tampa Metropolitan YMCA’s Regions Community Impact Dinner on March 4 (photo).
The annual event attracts more than 500 guests and showcases the volunteer accomplishments from every Tampa-area YMCA. “Not only does Steve help provide guidance and leadership for the New Tampa Y’s cause-driven life-changing work, but he is also actively involved in raising funds, increasing community awareness and creating partnerships that further the success of the Tampa Y’s Vision 2020 strategic plan,” said Lalita Llerena, the senior communications director for the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCAs. “(That plan is) to close the achievement gap, improve the community’s health and well-being, prevent drowning and develop teen leaders.”
Young, a Tampa native and YMCA member since 2011, joined the New Tampa YMCA Board in 2014.
For more information about recreation and volunteering at the New Tampa Family YMCA, visit TampaYMCA.org or call (813) 866-9622.