Casimiro aims to restore Kent Y’s flagship status

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Julie Casimiro was ready for her “kid fix.”

“I do this every morning,” she said, turning down the corridor next to the gym and heading for the back door of the Kent County YMCA.

Casimiro stepped into the bright sunshine. In the distance were the excited voices of children playing.

“This is the last day of camp,” she went on, “I’m going to miss them.”

The canopied road led to an opening with an array of colorful playground equipment and the ever-popular Y spray park. Beyond that in an open field campers and counselors were tossing balls, doing cartwheels and dancing in an open field.

“We have 117 acres…trails…ponds. It’s incredible,” said Casimiro.

Casimiro wants to spread the word so more of the community can avail themselves of the Kent YMCA experience. It’s a job Steven O’Donnell, retired superintendent of the State Police and chief executive officer of the YMCA of Greater Providence, tapped her to do.

Usually branch director jobs are filled from within the ranks or with someone with prior Y experience from outside the area.

O’Donnell had worked with Casimiro when she was the director of development at Children’s Friend & Service. He was looking for someone who could bring change and freshen the environment at the Kent Y. His timing turned out to be right.

Two years ago, Casimiro left her job to care for her mother. It has been a long road with her mother moving from various levels of care six times in seven months. After her mother’s death Casimiro, who is a state representative from North Kingstown, wasn’t sure what she would be doing.

A new challenge isn’t something she planned, but she has welcomed it and in a recent interview was brimming with ideas to enhance Y programs to further engage members and introduce or reintroduce the Y to the community.

Some of her thoughts seem obvious enough. She notes that the Y has long had a suggestion box. A review of those suggestions contained some worthwhile ideas, but more than that she learned that the time hadn’t been taken to follow up with those submitted suggestions. That’s going to change.

For starters, Casimiro intends on emailing those with suggestions. She is on the floor of the Y, if not greeting members as they enter the facility then visiting the pool, campgrounds, fitness room and other areas of the Kent campus. She’s visible, not cloistered in an office.

“This was once the flagship [of the YMCA of Greater Providence] and I’m going to bring it back,” she vowed.

In terms of new programs, Casimiro plans a progressive dance program that starts with children as young as two years old up through 8th grade students. She also talks about karate and NFL flag football as programs. Her aim is to grow Kent membership from 10,000 to 12,000.

O’Donnell chimes in, “I’m very confident we can do it under Julie’s leadership.”
A demonstration of that confidence is his decision allowing Kent to keep the proceeds of its Sept. 26 “ace your way to better health golf tournament and sports memorabilia night” at Alpine Country Club. The tournament already has a full roster of golfers, but sponsorships are available, as are tickets for the dinner.

Casimiro has planned for a lineup of sports and inspirational speakers and attendees including Ed Cooley, head coach of the Providence College Basketball Team, Mike Pressler, head coach of the Bryant University Bulldogs Lacrosse and Mary Burke head coach of the Bryant University Women’s Basketball.

Proceeds will directly benefit Y wellness programs and services. By keeping proceeds local rather than flowing into metropolitan Y coffers, O’Donnell believes other branches will be inspired to likewise to enhance their programs.

Before her work with nonprofits, Casimiro had 25 years of marketing experience in the corporate world at MetLife Auto & Home and AAA Southern New England. She holds a B.S. degree in marketing from Providence College and has completed a certification program from DePaul University, Institute for Interactive and Direct Marketing.

Casimiro describes herself at energetic, positive and a passionate advocate for children. Surrounded by camp kids, it’s easy to conclude they’ve already discovered that.

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