Volunteer Spotlight: Nick Macris

From right to left: Nick Macris, Sue Lee and Chris Parker

Nick Macris, a proud Illini alum, veteran of the U.S. Army and 22-year employee of ComEd, is one the Y’s most enthusiast supporters and volunteers. Not only is he a YMCA Metro Board Member, Nick is also a co-chair of the Y’s Annual Campaign and a member of the Giving Gala Planning Committee. We recently had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Nick about a number of different topics. Check out the highlights below:

On his hometown of Joliet
I was born and raised in Joliet. I’ve lived here all my life, except during my time in the army and my time away at school. Joliet is near and dear to my heart. It’s a very welcoming, warm community. Despite its size it’s very much, in some senses, like a small town.

His background
I am a loyal Illini. I bleed orange and blue. I left there with a master’s degree in architecture and half of an MBA. I wasn’t able to stay the seventh year, if you will. I had the army calling. I spent four years on active duty in the army and 16 years in the reserves. Between that and my 22 years at ComEd, that’s afforded me a lot of life lessons, learning experiences and opportunities to employ leadership skills. It’s been a great life.

His relationship with the Y
A lot of people on the board and on the staff have Y stories they like to share. I actually came to the board with no Y story, other than bringing my daughter, Maria, who is now 31, over here for little kiddie swimming classes. That was my brief and minimal exposure to the Y.

Of all my volunteer activities, and there are many, and they’re wonderful, I get a great deal of joy out of my association with the Y. I am really happy that I’ve had the opportunity to develop some Y stories as a result of being on the Metro Board and some of the other things I’ve done for the Y.

On the Y’s Annual Campaign
The annual campaign has grown pretty much every year, but I think it has the potential to grow more. The Y relies on the Annual Campaign to be able to provide scholarships, to be able to allow us to continue to say ‘Nobody is turned away due to the inability to pay.’

We’re hoping for bigger and better things every year. We try out different strategies and so forth. We all kind of keep our eyes on the prize, and that is having the maximum amount of dollars as we can to provide scholarships to folks that can’t afford to avail themselves of our services here at the Y.

One of the really amazing things that came out of year’s campaign—the staff at all branches achieved 100 percent contribution rate. I was really impressed with the level of dedication and commitment that the staff showed. And how they were able to achieve 100 percent contribution as quickly as they did. It was a source of inspiration for the Metro Board.

On the YMCA Giving Gala
It’s big, it’s glamorous. It’s productive from a fundraising standpoint. But probably even more importantly, it’s a great opportunity for the Y to get its message out there. It’s a beautiful function. It enhances our visibility in the community a great deal.

I’ve had people come up to me afterward and say ‘We go to several different charity balls, but the one that stands out as being fun, is the YMCA Gala.’ I thought that was a great compliment. We don’t ever want to lose sight of that.

Since the Gala ended in February, I’ve really been kind of anxious for the committee to get started up again, because you get to develop friendships with these people that you don’t necessary see other places throughout the year. I’m looking forward to getting back and working with some of those folks.

On the Y’s impact
The reality of it is, the Y is so much more. The Y provides so many more services other than just a gym and swim. Jim Watts has had a tremendous impact since he arrived. I believe he has assembled a superior team of people. I really do. And in addition to bringing in good people who do good jobs, he’s also created a very positive culture.

I think that makes it incumbent upon us as volunteers, and staff as well, to get that word out. And to talk about things like our Teen Achievers program, and our before and after school programs, and our summer camps, and the things we provide to families.

Going to the “End of Summer” Camp Picnic at the Smith Y—to see what it does for those kids and the smiles on their faces. Knowing that they have productive things to be doing with their time when they’re not in school. That was a wonderful experience.

The Teen Achievers—to see these kids and to know that were it not for this Y-sponsored program, they wouldn’t necessarily be aware that they too can succeed in higher education. They embark on a field trip to colleges and see kids just like themselves, who have gone and who have succeeded. Maurice Fears does an amazing job with that program. I see the impact that it has on the kids of that age. It makes you proud to be associated with an organization that impacts so many lives.

On the future
I would like to stick around as long as they’ll have me. I’m very happy participating here. It would leave a large void in my life if I wasn’t. It’s a funny thing. I sometimes don’t even feel like I’m retired, because I live a very busy lifestyle.

Nick stays busy through his involvement with many community service clubs, including the Kiwanis Club of Joliet and the Joliet/Will County Project Pride—which will be celebrating its 30th anniversary next year. When his volunteer duties aren’t calling, Nick enjoys the retired life at home with his wife of 38 years, Kathy.

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