The Y's Centennial Celebrations Have Begun

Sidney Offerman Way Co-naming & Ringing the NYSE’s Closing Bell

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

In 1917 the Y opened its doors and nearly 100 years later the Y is thriving as it serves the local community. July 1 marks the beginning of our new fiscal year, so as we enter FY17 we’re entering celebration mode. And we have so much to celebrate and be proud of!

At its heart the Y is a community organization so it made sense that our first celebratory event was routed in the local community: the Nagle Avenue - Sidney Offerman Way Co-naming Ceremony. On Friday, June 17 the Y was pleased to host over 20 members of the Offerman Family to honor their patriarch, Sidney Offerman. He was a key player in the Y’s history, shaping the organization into the wide-reaching, community-support agency it is today. The City of New York recognized this contribution to the greater community by co-naming Nagle Avenue, so on the 17th we came together to witness the unveiling of Sidney Offerman Way.

The following Monday we shared our excitement on a global stage: in honor of the Y’s centennial anniversary the New York Stock Exchange invited us to ring their iconic bell. On June 20 a group of board members, staff, and Summer Youth Employment Program participants gathered on the NYSE’s balcony and trading floor to cheer as CEO Martin Englisher rang the Closing Bell.

Skip to 2:25 in the video below to watch the Closing Bell ceremony.

The Y has witnessed a lot since 1917: German and Russian refugee resettlement, “white flight”, race riots, and two location moves. In the last 100 years, the Y has responded to the needs of the community by providing access to social services; offering English classes and citizenship tutoring; working with battered women; assisting those with mental health concerns; launching the first day camp for neighborhood children; developing a thriving nursery school; opening a center for new parents; producing an award-winning musical which celebrated intergroup relations between the Jewish and Dominican communities; building a 100-unit independent living facility for older adults and the mobility impaired. In the next 100 years we intend to continue to be an integral part of the Washington Heights and Inwood community. For the time being, we hope you’ll join us as we commemorate this momentous milestone in our history!

The Nagle Avenue - Sidney Offerman Way Co-naming Ceremony

In front of an auditorium filled with Y employees and Center for Adults Living Well at the Y participants, CEO Martin Englisher thanked the Offermans for their long time support of the agency. Offerman spent 30 years of his life on the Board of Directors and then as the Y’s President. In that time he was instrumental in the construction of the Y’s current location in 1956, which allowed for the merger of the YMHA of Inwood and YMHA of Washington Heights into the newly created YM&YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood. Through offering quality services to people of diverse ethnicities and ages, with the mission of improving the quality of their lives, Offerman and the Y have made a lasting contribution to Northern Manhattan. Sixty years later the location is thriving and has grown to include Wein House, a 100-unit building that houses low income older adults and the mobility impaired.

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, the one to nominate Offerman for the co-naming honor, then took the stage. He discussed the importance of recognizing the work of past generations, on which present generations should build, in order to continue to improve future generations’ quality of life. In his remarks, Council Member Rodriguez stressed the valuable contributions that immigrants have made and continue to make in this community. Since the Y’s establishment nearly 100 years ago, the agency has served the needs of the local community, which has historically been one of immigrants: initially German refugees, then Russians, and now those from the Dominican Republic. Praising how, while a Jewish organization, the Y serves the entire community regardless of religion, nationality, or ethnicity, Council Member Rodriguez said, “This institution has been a reference, city-wide, of what a model institution is.”

Y Board President Andrew Halpern followed this by saying, “Thank you to Council Member Rodriguez for the recognition of the Y’s great leaders.” Halpern went on to acknowledge the thread of philanthropy in the Offerman Family. Sidney passed down a legacy of service to his son Steve, who served as the Y’s President from 1988-1992 and is a current Board Member, and to his grandson Scott, who is joining the Board this year.

Steve Offerman reminisced about his father and enumerated his work on behalf of numerous institutions – the elder Offerman was an active board member of many charities including the Anti-Defamation League, United Jewish Appeal, Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, and the Knights of Pythias. Sidney Offerman was a genuine leader in every organization he became involved in.

After Council Member Rodriguez presented the Offermans with a commemorative Sidney Offerman Way street sign, the group moved to the Nagle Avenue and Ellwood Street intersection for the official unveiling.

The Nagle Avenue - Sidney Offerman Way co-naming offered a powerful way for the Y and community to remember and honor Sidney Offerman, a man who did so much for the community. To say the least, it was an inspiration to us and fueled our drive to continue to meet the needs of our diverse community.