When it comes to the greater Williamsburg community, Chesapeake Bank’s Senior Vice President and Regional Commercial Loan Officer Leigh Houghland dives in head first.
Leigh is the president of the Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA which includes 17 branches that go from Smithfield to Warsaw. His soft spot? The Learn to Swim program.
“My passion is the Learn to Swim program. They have an endowment which we are working on building and it primarily funds the 2nd grade Learn to Swim program,” said Leigh. “Within the Y’s footprint, there are about 7,000 2nd graders. I think last year we taught 1,000 of them to swim, and the goal is to get the endowment to a size where we can teach all 2nd graders in our footprint to swim. I think that’d be huge.”
Fittingly, Leigh learned to swim just before he was in the 2nd grade. For him, it was never about being the very best swimmer, but being confident enough in the water. There are numerous water-related sports, and to participate, a level of comfort and confidence in the water is key.
“If you have confidence in the water, you will be comfortable to get in a fishing boat or kayak or do any of those things,” he said.
While Leigh primarily works on the financial side of the program soliciting endowment donations to fund the swimming program, it pays off big when he hears about a child’s success story.
Teaching a child to swim opens them up to a world of exploration and fun. Through Leigh’s hard work, last year, 1,000 children had that opportunity; before we know it, he’ll be changing 7,000 children’s lives.
“It’s powerful to change a life like that. Seeing their confidence is really neat,” said Leigh.
To learn more about Learn to Swim, visit the program’s website.