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Longtime volunteer honored at Birmingham Family YMCA

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published February 24, 2020

 Trevor Gaines, of Southfield, was honored last week at the Birmingham Family YMCA for his dedicated volunteer service and “bright” personality.

Trevor Gaines, of Southfield, was honored last week at the Birmingham Family YMCA for his dedicated volunteer service and “bright” personality.

Photo by Tiffany Esshaki


BIRMINGHAM — On a Wednesday afternoon in mid-February, chances are the conditions outside in Birmingham will be pretty gloomy. Bet on overcast skies, an early sundown and icy temperatures.

But on Feb. 19, the city was unusually sunny for a winter day. Which is fitting, because the Birmingham Family YMCA honored its own ray of sunshine during a special Volunteer of the Year celebration.

Trevor Gaines, a 35-year-old Southfield man, was honored by colleagues for his dedicated service three days a week for the past decade at the YMCA’s community center on East Lincoln Street.

Gaines is a graduate of Birmingham Public Schools’ Adult Transition Program. In the evenings, he helps the staff prepare for the influx of student-athletes by doing laundry — a job that seems small but is so vital to a smooth operation.

“We are tremendously lucky to have Trevor here at our YMCA,” Dan Marsh, the executive director of the Birmingham Family YMCA, said during the small but well-attended ceremony. “He does the folding of the towels, which is a never-ending battle in the evenings. He gets us ready for our evening rush, and oftentimes he’s here a little bit late and helping kind of finish up from the evening rush.”

But Gaines isn’t known only for his fantastic laundry skills. Like a sunny day in midwinter, Gaines is a warm and welcome bright spot for visitors of the facility.

“He is just the brightest, most incredible ray of sunshine,” said Jessy Tontini, of Beverly Hills.

When Tontini brings her daughter to the YMCA for swimming practice with the Birmingham Blue Dolphins, Gaines is always there to greet them with an enthusiastic hello. They wanted to make sure they were there for his big night.

“It’s amazing to see someone just so passionate about making people’s day and making people smile,” she said. “He remembers your name; he remembers little things about you. It’s very inspiring.”

“It’s really the warmth and energy and positivity that he brings,” Marsh told the guests in the crowd. “For those of you that know Trevor, you know that’s just a core aspect of who he is. This is a completely positive and optimistic man. He brightens everybody’s spirits, and we just couldn’t be happier to have him here.”

Mayor Pierre Boutros was on hand at the event to present Gaines with a proclamation in his honor. Gaines excitedly interrupted, saying “Oh my God,” and hiding his face in his hand.

After that, a couple more administrators at the Birmingham Family YMCA said a few words.

But the standing ovation came after an acceptance speech from the man himself. Gaines accepted his trophy — a statue with a working lightbulb to symbolize his famous glow — and likened the tribute to that of the legendary Sidney Poitier’s Best Actor win at the 1964 Academy Awards.

“As my mother used to say, don’t ever give up,” he said to his supporters, taking a moment to remember his late mother.