When asked how he became involved as a Y volunteer, Dean Chu flashed back a generation. “As a kid, I saw my dad volunteering at the Y”, Dean recalls. His father played various parts within the Y community as Dean grew up, serving as a camp cabin counselor, parent volunteer, and eventually on the camp committee. Y programs provided a foundation for family bonding, as camp outs, weekend adventures, and service projects were family functions for the Chu’s.
Through his service, Dean’s father instilled the values of commitment to community, continuing to serve and engage with the Y long after Dean was grown. His commitment lives on today through Dean’s continued service.
Dean’s own service started at just 9 years old, when he volunteered loading Christmas trees at the Y’s annual tree lot. He continued service throughout his teen years, volunteering as an assistant coach for his younger brother’s youth sports team. His service was tested when he embarked as a counselor on a canoe trip in his late teens. The kids outnumbered the counselors 75 to 10, but nonetheless, Dean cites all of his Y experiences as rewarding. It must be true, as after a brief hiatus during college and the start of his professional career, Dean reunited with the Y and hasn’t stopped serving the Y community since.
When Dean created a family of his own, he made sure that the Y was an integral piece of his children’s lives, as it was in his own childhood. The Y provided a unique opportunity for him to connect with his two daughters through the adventure guides program. Dean accompanied his daughters on adventure guide trips, and incorporated his love of water sports into Y programs. Dean has been an integral part of the Northwest YMCA for almost two decades now and served on the board of managers for the past 12 years.
Dean triumphed in his professional career, serving as Mayor of Sunnyvale, but his passion for service to the Y remained resolute. In fact, Dean cites his time in Y programs as a young man as critical in development of his leadership skills.
Now that his daughters are grown, Dean continues to serve his community, honoring the legacy of service his father left behind. He shared his wish for the next generation of Chu’s, saying, “I hope that my kids have seen all of the community volunteering that I’ve done with the Y and other organizations, and I hope they carry that forward.”
To honor his commitment to the Y over years of service, YMCA of Silicon Valley is pleased to recognize Dean as a 2018 Distinguished Service Award Recipient.