CARROLLWOOD – Jay Buckmaster came to Tampa last fall for two reasons.
First, it was pretty cold in Wichita, Kan., where he was working with the local YMCA, and two, he wanted to make a good thing even better.
Buckmaster, the new senior vice president at the Bob Sierra YMCA, made the move Thanksgiving weekend with a mission in mind – youth development, social responsibility, and healthy living. He’s off to a big start as he continues to acclimate to the Tampa Bay region.
Buckmaster is enthusiastic about his new job. Sitting in his office at the Northdale location, he is easily excited and shows a lot of passion about his new home.
“We have a lot going on here,” Buckmaster said. “There’s still a lot to do but there are going to be a lot of new and exciting changes.”
Many are in the Bob Sierra YMCA’s vision plan for 2020 and are already taking place. Groundbreaking is coming up soon on the new gymnastics facility that will open the current gymnastics room to even more cardio and weight training space, for example.
When the new gymnastics facility is completed, Buckmaster said the YMCA will start a new development center for people of all ages who are looking to develop life skills that they can’t learn anywhere else. Finally, by 2020, there is a need, Buckmaster said, to create even more programs.
“We have plans for almost the next 25 years,” Buckmaster said. “We need to be able to adapt to the future. In the next decade or so things are going to be so much different and we need to keep up with it.”
Buckmaster grew up in Milwaukee before moving on to Wichita. The weather and the promise of a strong future made Tampa an ideal choice.
“I saw a marketing study and people just called it the ‘Y’ and I wanted this to be a place that could make a change in the community,” Buckmaster said. “It’s exciting and my family loves it here.”
As for the three major goals, Buckmaster is ready to take it on.
“As for youth development, we are trying to bring out the potential in every kid,” Buckmaster said. “We want to turn these kids into leaders in their community and bring out the best in every kid.
“Healthy living is so important. Who is better equipped than the YMCA to make an impact on childhood obesity and diseases?
“Also, we need to teach kids how to be more philanthropic in the community. There has to be more social responsibility. We need for kids to volunteer in the community. When I was a kid, we had to volunteer. I would hate to live in a country that doesn’t encourage volunteering. Playing video games is fine, but there needs to be a social responsibility.”
Buckmaster said one of the first things he did when he took the job in Tampa was meet with Bob Sierra himself.
“It was an honor to meet someone like him,” Buckmaster said. “He did so much for this community and he said so much about volunteering. It meant a lot to meet him.”
Buckmaster said he wants to continue to make the Bob Sierra YMCA accessible to everyone. Everyone, he said, is welcome no matter their income. The YMCA is a Christian organization, he said, and will never turn anyone away.
Meeting the needs of the community, Buckmaster said, is the ultimate goal. He can use some more volunteers, but he’s happy with what he has for now.
“I love it here,” Buckmaster said. “This is a big part of the community and we want to be an even bigger part.’’