How The Fund Works

Retiree Profile: Philip J. Dwyer
After a 42-year career at the Y, Philip is enjoying his retirement because he saved with the Fund. He dedicates his time to community service, politics, and volunteer work for the Y.
Tell us about your YMCA Career

First, I was a YMCA youth member and volunteered in Marblehead, MA. Then I went to Springfield College as a YMCA major. My first paid job was in the West Hartford YMCA as a part-time Youth Program Director (30 hours per week). When I was a senior at Springfield College, I would drive from central Massachusetts to central Connecticut every afternoon.

I knew in 1965 that I wanted to work for the YMCA but did not imagine that I would have a 42-year YMCA career spanning various YMCAs in three states: Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut.

After graduating from Springfield College in 1969, I got my first full-time YMCA job as the Community Program Director in Bethlehem, PA. So yes, YMCAs have been doing community outreach for several generations. My last position was CEO of the Central Connecticut Coast YMCA where, over time, we merged a number of independent YMCAs, combining them into one strong YMCA.

In between, I served as the Executive Director of the West Side YMCA branch in New York City. West Side is one of the largest YMCA branches in the world.

In all of my YMCA work, I came to appreciate that the Y is the best place to work if a person has a dream of service. The mission of the YMCA is clear enough and broad enough to provide a platform for a variety of YMCA staff to make their dreams into reality.

How was the transition to retirement?

During my first week of retirement, I took my extended family of six for a week of fun in Key West, Florida. And truthfully, retirement turned out pretty much as I expected. While I missed the relationships I had at work, I replaced my work life with a life in local community service and politics, something that I had pursued for much of my work life anyway.

Among other positions in retirement, I served eight years on the local Board of Education. I am very involved with Fairfield Cares, a program serving teens struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. I also serve as a Justice of the Peace and officiate at weddings. And I got involved with YMCA Alumni and expanded my connection to the World Fellowship of YMCA Retirees, where I was recently elected to a 4-year term as chairman. This past summer I was enriched by participating at the World Council meeting in Thailand. And, of course, I remain a donor and volunteer at my local YMCA.

There are YMCAs throughout the world, but very few YMCA workers outside of the United States have access to the kind of retirement benefits that we appreciate. I am particularly interested in finding ways for our international YMCA colleagues to have the kind of support we have here in the U.S. in our retirement years.

Tell us about the process of saving for retirement

Back when I was 22 or 23, working in Bethlehem, PA, I had the opportunity to hear a presentation by Harold Smith, who was a young staff member at the Fund, and eventually its CEO. I listened to his advice about planning for retirement and started saving as much as I could into the YMCA Retirement Fund, and let the investment experts at the Fund do the rest.

If you could give one piece of advice to current YMCA staff about saving and planning for retirement, what would it be?

Plan for it! Maximize your contributions to the Fund. Never spend above your means. Once you know you’ve taken care of your family, you can put all of your energy into your YMCA service.