The YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo is pleased to announce that our very own Shashu Baraka, Active for Life Program Director, has been awarded the RISING STAR award by the State Alliance of Michigan YMCAs. Created to honor exemplary and selfless members of the Y staff, this prestigious award is only given to three people a year across all 60+ Michigan YMCAs. 

 “It feels good to be acknowledged for your work, especially by your peers and by the Alliance,” Baraka said.

Baraka was nominated because she “continued to develop and define herself” at the YMCA. Baraka’s passion for the well-being of the healthy aging demographic and cancer survivors also continues to grow.  

“I absolutely, hands down love working with the healthy aging population,” Baraka said. "I feel as if I am in the right role. I understand they have a need for someone to give them time, patience, and advocacy, and that's where my patience and voice always come into play." While it requires patience, Baraka said, she also sees her Healthy Aging classes as great resources, both professionally and personally. They often give her “great nuggets of wisdom.” Baraka defined a role for herself at the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo, as the Active for Life Program Director, where she now runs chronic disease prevention and management programming. In June of 2023, Baraka will celebrate her 10th year at the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo.

“I cannot fully articulate how proud we are of Shashu. Here at the Y we talk a lot about making a difference in people’s lives,” Dave Morgan, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo, said. “Shashu, through her patience, commitment, and strength of heart, is truly making a profound impact on those we serve.”




November 2nd, 2022