Bill Parent, former president and CEO of Blue Hills Bank and member of the YMCA’s General Board of Directors, and his wife Kathy Parent, longtime mentor and member of the YMCA of Greater Boston Education and Training Branch Board of Advisors, will be awarded the 1851 YMCA of Greater Boston Legacy Award for Volunteer Leadership for nearly a decade of service helping local children and families at the YMCA of Greater Boston’s annual Spark Party on Thursday, Oct. 10 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza.
The 1851 YMCA of Greater Boston Legacy Award for Volunteer Leadership recognizes volunteers in Greater Boston who exemplify the YMCA’s mission by offering their time and talent to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to access the Y’s programs and services. The award recognizes those individuals who are creating communities of caring people to improve health and empower youth and families.
As a child, Bill learned to swim at his local YMCA. After becoming CEO of Blue Hills Bank in 2010, he sought to get more involved in the communities in which the bank served, including Hyde Park, Roxbury and West Roxbury. He joined the YMCA of Greater Boston’s General Board of Directors in 2012, and he currently serves as its Chair. During his tenure, he has helped the association to expand programs and services available to low-income youth and families, such as increasing the number of meals that the Y serves to children, especially during the critical summer months when students don’t have access to school cafeterias. Under Bill’s leadership at Blue Hills Bank, a culture of philanthropy was infused into the fabric of the bank and many bank employees served, and continue to serve on local Y boards and participate in Y programs and fundraising events.
“At Blue Hills Bank and now Rockland Trust, one of our primary focus areas is health and human services and the Y mission as an organization offers critical services to communities in Greater Boston that overlap with the communities and customers we serve,” says Bill. “Over the years, to be able to support the dedicated members of the Y team has been inspiring as they have taken our contributions and multiplied our impact to help people less fortunate. I share this award with my wife and my colleagues who are committed to volunteering and creating a core partnership with the Y.”
Following a career in IT and spending time at home with their three children, Kathy was looking for her second act. After hearing a graduate of the YMCA Training, Inc. program speak at an event, she was inspired to volunteer for the program. Training, Inc. is an intensive 20-week, full-time computerized office skills training and employment program that is designed to replicate the expectations of a professional office environment. The training prepares participants with both the technical and job readiness skills to succeed. As a mentor, Kathy meets with a group of trainees once-a-week to help them develop their resumes, prepare for interviews, and encourage them to believe in themselves and their ability to achieve their goals. As an advisory board member, she is part of a group that supports the Y’s Education and Training branch in meeting strategic goals and facilitating fundraising initiatives. Over the past seven years, she has helped many students gain confidence and self-sufficiency.
“One of the reasons for the YMCA Training, Inc. program’s success is that management and staff are continuously working with our business partners to assess the landscape of the job market in Greater Boston and modifying the curriculum accordingly to meet employer and industry needs” says Kathy.
“The trainees are extremely hard working, motivated and resilient individuals, and it is an honor to play a small part in their personal development and success. This award inspires me to continue to work passionately to support the Y, especially the Education and Training branch, as best that I can and to raise awareness of the program’s mission.”
The Back Bay residents currently belong to the Huntington Avenue YMCA where their family leverages the facility’s gym equipment, personal trainers and pool.
“Through their deliberate and heartfelt acts of service, Bill and Kathy have changed the lives of countless residents, including children and working parents, of the Greater Boston community,” says James Morton, YMCA of Greater Boston President and CEO. “They have helped to spark many success stories. We are grateful for their longtime support, commitment and guidance.”
The Spark Party is the Y’s largest annual fundraising event, bringing together over 300 respected community leaders and individuals in support of Greater Boston’s children and families. This year, the Parents will accept the award alongside three other prominent members of the Boston community who have championed the Y’s mission to improve health and empower youth and families: Sun Life and the Boston Celtics, who will accept the 1851 YMCA of Greater Boston Legacy Award for Corporate Citizenship, and Chris Gabrieli, Chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and CEO of Empower Schools, who will accept the 1851 YMCA of Greater Boston Legacy Award for Civic Engagement.