Wayne YMCA keeps Jewish soul

Wayne YMCA keeps Jewish soul

Meet Tony Ceresoli

The last time the Wayne Y had a new executive director, he arrived fresh from a decade as executive director of a 1,000-member synagogue.

Now, the Wayne Y has brought in someone with 27 years experience in the YMCA system.

Tony Ceresoli first encountered the world of Ys growing up in Rome, N.Y. As a high school sophomore, he would sneak into the Y every afternoon. Only later did he learn that the executive director didn’t kick him out because his father had bought him a membership.

After graduating from SUNY Cortland with a degree in physical education and teaching, Ceresoli moved back to Rome, where he found his first job back at the Y as a program director.

“I just stayed with it, and worked my way up through the ranks,” he said.

The Jewish focus of the Wayne Y makes this Y different from others he’s headed – but that’s not a problem for Ceresoli.

“Working with different beliefs and religions is common to what I do,” he said. “The Y movement is inclusive. We’ve been inclusive for 153 years now.”

At Wayne, “one of the goals is to keep the strong Judeo principle that has built this facility and will keep the facility running for years to come. We have made a strong commitment. We have hired a staff that will keep working on that component of the YMCA.”

Ceresoli, who lived most recently in St. Petersburg, Fla., started work at the beginning of the month. He still is living in a hotel room and is looking for a studio apartment to rent until April, when his wife will join him. His two sons are in college.

His goal for the Wayne Y is “to bring it back to the days when – I was told – it was just bustling and hustling with people. I want to make this the community hub it once was – strong on Judaic principles – really a community center. To bring it back as a center of the community.”

With the umbrella Metro Y organization including six branches, “it’s a strong foundation. We have a lot of history of how to run programs, from a health and wellness program to our nursery, to senior programs. We feel at the YMCA we truly do encompass mind, body, and spirit.

“I’m personally excited to be involved in this community,” Ceresoli said. “There’s a great need here. Done right, it can be a really successful partnership for years to come.”

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