Community Spotlight: Norwich Family YMCA Director Jamey Mullen
Published: January 22nd, 2024

Community Spotlight: Norwich Family YMCA Director Jamey Mullen Norwich Family YMCA Director Jamey Mullen (Submitted Photo)

by Sophia Root,

Commerce Chenango

Every week, Commerce Chenango and the Evening Sun is highlighting the contributions of community members.

James (Jamey) Mullen is the Executive Director of the Norwich Family YMCA. He has held the position for 27 years and been a member or employee of the YMCA for more than 50 years.

Mullen said he is proud of his community and the YMCA, “I know this is the cliché answer, but I am so proud of my kids and the young adults they have become. I am also proud to be a community volunteer while supporting many events and groups, but nothing is more rewarding than the Norwich Helping Hands program which begins their 5th year of helping the community this month. I would be remiss not to mention the rewarding volunteer work I do with the New York State Run For the Fallen program, a program that recognizes Fallen soldiers that have died in the War on Terror since 9-11.”

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Mullen was born and raised in Oil City, Pennsylvania, a small town that he described as similar to Norwich. Located an hour south of Erie, PA, and an hour and a half north of Pittsburgh, Mullen described his hometown as “a small community along the Allegheny River, that was rich in history and a fun place to grow up in.” Just like Norwich, Oil City was an industry powerhouse. Instead of being the birthplace of Pepto Bismol, Oil City, PA’s claim to fame was Oil, as it was once the headquarters of Quaker State and Pennzoil. 

Another similarity between these two cities is that they both have YMCA’s. Mullen called his younger self a “Y-Rat,” as he learned to swim and play at his local YMCA. Once he was old enough, he took a job at the Oil City YMCA helping where he could, teaching physical activities like swimming, youth sports and coordinating events.   

When Mullen began attending the University of Mount Union, formerly Mount Union College, in Alliance, Ohio, it comes as no surprise that he was also involved in the local YMCA. Graduating early from his 5-year co-op program with a degree in Sports Management, Mullen set out looking for a job. Since he had so much experience with the YMCA, he got plenty of interviews within the Y movement. He recalls having two promising interviews, one in Bayonne, NJ, (down by New York City) and a small town called Norwich.   

He was interviewed and hired by then Norwich Family YMCA Executive Director Dave Sherman in August of 1992 as the new Physical Director. Not too long after that, Mr. Sherman died a sudden and premature death, leaving Mullen to step up as Interim Director. Although he was new to town and relatively new to a directorial position, Mullen recalls getting overwhelming support and encouragement from the community to apply for the position.   

Mullen said he would be remiss if he didn’t take this opportunity to thank the people who helped him get to where he is: his mentors, bosses, and board members who ended up becoming his lifelong friends.   

Mullen was interviewed by board members and was hired as the Executive Director of the Norwich Family YMCA at the age of 26, back in 1997. Mullen recalls as soon as he started, a big project was introduced and soon the Y Board and employees began the process to build a new building for the community.

However, Mullen is involved in much more than the Norwich Family YMCA. He is involved with the State Alliance of the YMCA and interacts with other YMCAs throughout the state, he was on the board of the Chenango County SPCA for many years, as well as the Chenango County Youth Bureau, and is involved with Pop Warner football and supports local high school sports programs. Soon, he is excited to take on the role of President of the Citadel Family Association. His son is about to start his Senior year at the institution, and Mullen has been involved since the beginning.   

When asked what advice he would give a young professional seeking community involvement, Mullen said: “Take the first step. Talk to other professionals who are already helping in the community. Give back to the arena that gets you excited, something that pulls on your heartstrings and is personally rewarding. Go and help an organization that is volunteer driven, work with other people and form relationships in the community outside of your professional ones.” 

On his free time, Mullen enjoys sports, coaching, hiking in the Adirondacks, golf, skiing, attending concerts, fishing, and travel. He stated: “My personal therapy is with my camera while capturing outdoor, landscape and athletic photos and I like to share them with the community on my Jamey Mullen (ja3) Photography Facebook page.”