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Forty years of volunteering shapes Cindy's love of the Y

Cindy Ougler finds time to volunteer at least 10 hours at the YMCA every week
Cindy Ougler has been volunteering her time at the YMCA since she was just 12 years old. Photo supplied

For Cindy Ougler, the Sault Ste. Marie YMCA has been a part of her life since she was a baby. Now 52 years old, she finds time to volunteer at least 10 hours at the YMCA every week. 

“I have been volunteering at the Sault Ste. Marie YMCA since I was 12 years old, but I have been a member of the Sault Ste. Marie YMCA since I was a month old. I became familiar with every inch of the fine old facility practically from the time I could crawl, and grew up there, partaking in just about every program available to me as I emerged from childhood into my teenage years and, ultimately, into adulthood,” Ougler said. “My mom, Pat MacKinnon, was not only a lifelong member and volunteer but an employee at the Sault Ste. Marie YMCA. She finally retired at age 75, and instilled in me a sense of duty and responsibility to others.”

For the last 20 years, Ougler has been volunteering with the YBC Basketball Program that runs on Saturdays from September until May. She is in the gym with them from noon until 6:00 p.m. “I help coordinate the volunteer coaches, administer the program and lend moral support to the kids and their parents,” she said.  

Ougler says that she looks forward to watching the kids learn not only athletic skills but life skills through the program- teamwork and fair play being the most relevant. 

“I find my volunteer work at the YMCA very rewarding but there is nothing more rewarding than seeing some of the young participants come back as teenagers and young adults as volunteers themselves,” she said.  

Ougler has also served as both a director and chair for the Sault Ste. Marie YMCA Board of Directors. This board experience led her into her next endeavour of helping with philanthropy and raising funds for the Strong Kids Campaign.  

“Thanks to Strong Kids support, I took full advantage of a wide range of programs that helped me develop into the adult I am today,” she said. “These programs were not confined to the Algoma district, so I was able to spread my wings throughout Ontario, Canada and beyond our national borders, allowing me the opportunity to witness first-hand the Y's invaluable international impact.”

Ougler credits most of her happiness and success to her time spent volunteering with the YMCA, and hopes that others will consider adding volunteer work to their schedule. 

“I would encourage everyone to volunteer whatever time they can. If you have never volunteered before you will be surprised how rewarding lending your skills and knowledge to a worthy cause can be,” Ougler said. “If you cannot volunteer your time, I would ask that you volunteer a donation to the Sault Ste. Marie YMCA Strong Kids so that every child has an opportunity to participate in YMCA programs. I hope to be able to volunteer for a very long time. Once I am retired, I’ll be able to devote even more time to volunteering at the Sault Ste. Marie YMCA.”