Meet The Y’s 5-Foot-Tall Package Of Dynamite

Toni Zebka-Waite, the Jamestown Area YMCA’s Love’s Terrific Kids site coordinator, youth worker and volunteer fire fighter is pictured here playing a board game with kids who are part of the Y-Kids program, in the Y’s youth department, Feb. 23.

What do you get when you combine a high-octane female with a heart of gold, packaged in a small 5-foot-frame of dynamite who just happens to be a volunteer firefighter and loves working with children?

You get a Toni Zebka-Waite. The Jamestown Area YMCA’s Love’s Terrific Kids site coordinator, youth worker, volunteer, mother, wife and all-around wonderful person.

“I’ve known Toni since Oct. of 2014,” said Gina Bloomquist, the Jamestown YMCA’s school age and family director. “Toni started out as a group leader at our afterschool program — Ring’s Outstanding Kids — and from there she’s just kind of grown into being my ‘go-to’ person.”

Waite, on any given day, can be seen in a variety of different positions at the YMCA. From working in the youth department during the YMCA’s Y-Kids program, day and summer camps, to helping with father/daughter dances to assisting with program development; Waite is a one-stop-shop person who has the Y’s mission and focus at the core of all she does.

But, for the 1990 Maple Grove and 2006 SUNY Fredonia graduate, the Y is more like a family than work.

“The Y is like family to me,” Waite said. “I guess it is work and a job, but I feel like I’m working side-by-side with family and people like me who care about our community.”

When not working at the Y or taking care of her daughter, Leah, Waite can be found volunteering her time as a firefighter for the Fluvanna Fire Department.

“I guess volunteering is part of my nature,” Waite said. “I love helping people and working with people so I guess this was a natural progression for me.”

Because of her extraordinary work efforts, volunteer heart and her focus on the Y’s mission of giving back and serving the Greater Jamestown Area, she has caught the attention of the YMCA chief executive officer.

“Toni is an ‘EverReady battery’ of excitement and energy,” said Mark G. Eckendorf, the Jamestown Area YMCA’s CEO. “She’s always willing to pitch in and is committed to the Y and our community. Toni is multitalented and a motivator. She is easy to work with and loves the Y’s mission of providing program which focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.”

It would seem with having staff members and volunteers like Toni Zebka-Waite the Y is a better organization for it. When one factors in the mission of the Y and the impact YMCA programs have on any given community that team, staff and family members need to be of the same mind and caliber as Waite. Given the enormous impact this mother, wife, fire fighter and youth worker has on everyone she comes in contact with one can argue that she has earned her place in the lore’s of those labeled “Y-Strong.”