“Roman has shown exceptional leadership throughout the years in the Adventure Guides Program. He has taken the time to mentor other volunteers to show them how to be leaders in the AG Program, and has gone above and beyond to help make the program a wonderful experience.
-Nicholas Cheshire, Fullerton Family YMCA
I want to thank you for the honor of being nominated as a YMCA of Orange County Distinguished Service Awards volunteer honoree.
I was very lucky 8 years ago when a longtime family friend told me I needed to bring my then kindergarten daughter Olivia to an Indian Princess meeting at 6:30 pm. He gave me an address and told us to bring our swimsuits and be ready to have fun! Well, that was the start of an amazing journey that my family has been on for the last 8 years.
Olivia had just started kindergarten and was a little shy, but the older girls in the Shoshone Tribe took her in like a little sister and made sure she felt at home. The dads were full of great stories and tales of trips and events that they had been on with their daughters and all of the fun activities that they had been able to enjoy due to this amazing program. When Olivia and I left that evening we knew that this was a program we wanted to be in. So we became Shoshone Tribe members!
We enjoyed the events that year– camp outs, father-daughter dances, pinewood derby, and tribe meetings twice a month. We were hooked! As the year was coming to an end we started talking about next year’s leaders…and somehow my name came up. Wait… what?! I just started how can I be in leadership? And that’s how my YMCA volunteer career began.
I was the Vice Chief of the Shoshone that year, which as it turns out makes you the Chief of the tribe/circle the next year. Through my time as Vice Chief I was able to meet other volunteer leaders and learned a lot about the program led by dads who take their time to make sure each daughter has the time of their life building memories to last a life time while building a friendship with their fathers that lasts forever.
It’s hard to describe and to put into words how this program has impacted me and my daughters, I guess the best way to say or explain it is that, it is by far the best thing I have ever done with my girls!
As a family, we have been blessed to have been a part of this wonderful program. I have watched my daughters along with all the other girls in our program grow into strong confident young ladies. I have watched them try and fail, pick themselves up and succeed on the next try. I have watched dads and daughters build friendships and trust with each other which may not have happened without this program.
I am thankful for the opportunity to volunteer with the YMCA and the Adventure Princess program. I’m proud of what we are doing in the program and I know that each daughter that is a part of this program will have memories that will stick with them forever. I know that these young ladies are going to make a difference in our communities from the lessons they learned and time they spent with their dads.
I am just “1 of 100 dads” to these great daughters— we all treat each of the girls like they are our own. Some people invest in things, we choose to invest our time in our children and that translates to their future.
Watching these girls and dads (including Olivia and me) cry at our graduation program at the end of the year camp out is more than enough proof that we are making a difference in the lives of families.
I want to thank the YMCA and their staff for being a part of my family. We have really enjoyed this journey through Adventure Guides, the Volleyball program with the amazing coaching staff and all the support we have gotten over the years from everyone at the Y.
Thank you for the nomination for the YMCA of Orange County Distinguished Service Awards and thank you for giving me and my daughters the opportunity to help others and to build our relationships.
Looking forward to many more years of service!
Roman G. Gardea
CA Wild Elder