New director pushing to make YMCA bigger part of the community

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 16 August 2022 at 7:28 am

Teen center at Pearl Street site among projects in the works

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Jesse Cudzillo stands next to the play area for young children at the YMCA. He has announced plans to build a teen center in the building, beginning in the fall.

MEDINA – With a new director, new programming and the promise of new funding, GLOW YMCA is looking forward to an exciting year.

Jesse Cudzillo took over the reins June 6 after Greg Reed accepted the position as district director of Orleans and Genesee YMCA in Batavia.

Cudzillo grew up in Buffalo and after his family moved to Eden, he graduated from Eden High School. He followed school by joining the Air Force in 1996, retiring from there after 20 years.

He is married to Katie Smider from Gasport and the has four children. Their youngest son is a junior in high school, the next attends Brockport State College, their daughter works and goes to college in Virginia and the oldest son works for Isaac Heating and Cooling.

Cudzillo said each time they had to move while he was in the Air Force, they made a practice of looking for a good place to send their kids to school and then bought a house in that area. That is also how they ended up in Medina.

Cudzillo held various jobs after retiring from the Air Force, the latest being with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

When he saw the ad for a director at the GLOW YMCA, he had already been a member since 2019.

“I always looked for a job where I could best use the talents I’d been given and the experience I’ve gained in life,” he said. “I saw an opportunity to impact the community where my children live, in hopes some of them will settle here and raise their kids here.”

His goal as director of the YMCA is to create a place where the community can come for health, wellness and recreation.

Jesse Cudzillo, new director of GLOW YMCA in Medina, points out one of the murals in the Y, painted by local artist Brandi Zavitz.

“I see this place as a central hub for the entire community,” Cudzillo said. “As I read about the history of the YMCA in Medina, I see it used to the place to go. I want to continue that. I want the Y to be the first place people want to go when they think of family fun.”

The YMCA is so much more than a gym, he said. He said he is amazed at how many people don’t realize all the YMCA has to offer. The Y offers a summer camp, and child care before and after school in four locations – Medina, Lyndonville, Albion and Akron. They offer “drop and shop,” where parents can drop their children off while they go shopping.

Looking to the future, Cudzillo said there is exciting news in the works regarding new projects. One is building a teen center downstairs on the north side of the building. This will focus on the 12-18 age group.

“Our vision is to give them a safe place to hang out after school,” Cudzillo said. “There will be sports, tutoring if they need it and special events, or they can just relax. We also plan to build a teaching kitchen.”

Remodeling will begin this fall, he said.

“Our hope is youth will continue to come in and join, and thereby give back to the community,” he added. “Being in the military and moving so often, every place we went we had to create new space in the community. I believe this place can be such a space.”

He is working with Job Development to host a job fair and has a blood drive scheduled on Thursday. He is eagerly awaiting the announcement of a grant which will fund an exciting new program never offered in Orleans County before.