June 12, 2021

Saying goodbye to the Plant City Family YMCA [to come to Cayman Islands]

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By Justin Kline From Plant City Observer

Plant City Observer File Phot0

Zach Hilferding is joining the YMCA of the Cayman Islands after nearly three years in Plant City.

When Zach Hilferding became executive director of the Plant City Family YMCA in 2016, his goal was to help build it into a “strong, community-driven leader” in the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA community. He’ll leave for the Cayman Islands next month knowing he did just that.

Hilferding will join the YMCA of the Cayman Islands as its new operations executive, a role he said he was specifically recruited for. He’s looking to keep the same energy he brought to Plant City in July 2016.

“I’m really proud of the fact that we have established ourselves as a community-driven nonprofit,” Hilferding said. “We’ve tried to identify the needs and wants of community members… we’ve been able to partner with some great nonprofits like Unity, the Chamber of Commerce and Hope Lutheran Church. We’ve really been able to partner with a lot of organizations in the community that make an impact.”

The YMCA of the Cayman Islands and many others outside the United States, Hilferding said, are more “faith-based” organizations in that they usually don’t have the same full-fledged facilities American YMCAs do, if they have any at all. 

YMCA International organizations work out of churches and camps and, in the case of the Cayman Islands, offer summer and specialty camps and after-school care programs. Hilferding will be tasked with helping the five-year-old YMCA develop its sports programs now that it’s merging with Cayman Islands Little League and its programs and facilities. He hopes to see the YMCA grow over time to a point where it could one day have its own facility not unlike Plant City’s and where it could really expand its suite of offerings for the kids and community at large.

His last day at the Plant City Y will be Feb. 1 and he’ll start his new position three days later. The rest of his family will join him in the summer so his children can finish the school year at Walden Lake Elementary. He said he’s sad to leave a town he and his family love living in and hopes Plant Citians traveling to the islands will look him up at his office on Seven Mile Beach.

Hilferding’s replacement in Plant City has not yet been determined, but he said the YMCA’s national search should wrap up sometime in February.

“I think this has become a desirable position within the Tampa YMCA association,” Hilferding said. “It’s very important to the Tampa COO and CEO to have the right fit to start a positive next chapter. They’ve grown to love Plant City.”

Since Hilferding took over in Plant City, the YMCA underwent numerous quality of life improvements and put a stronger focus on its youth sports offerings. 

Swimming finally returned to the Y in the form of the developmental swim team for kids and the Y also dabbled with late-night sports options for kids during the summer. The Y offered new and improved programs like the Special Night Out events for special needs adults and strengthened its partnerships with community organizations like Unity in the Community, the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce and Hope Lutheran Church. Most of all, Hilferding is proud to say the culture at the Plant City Y is strong and can be felt the minute a member walks into the facility.

“I think the Y is in a better place moving forward,” Hilferding said. “I love our staff here. We’ve really built a strong, community-driven Y here that’s a leader in the Tampa association. That was my goal here. It’s been a great ride.”

For more on this story go to: https://www.plantcityobserver.com/saying-goodbye-to-the-plant-city-family-ymca/

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