Dave Kretsinger, a native of Long Beach, has lived in Washington State for many years. In 2020, he came across the Ebell website and decided to donate his federal stimulus payment to the organization that had supported him many years ago. He was so impressed by the thanks he received that he’s since donated again. On a recent visit to Los Angeles, he sat down with me in the President’s Tea Room to talk about his experience being an Ebell Scholar.
Dave attended Pepperdine University (Class of 1982) where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Youth Agency Administration — a degree which incorporates business, psychology, and recreation. He’d been involved with the YMCA since his junior high years and felt compelled to work for for the Y to help other youth.
As part of his financial aid package at Pepperdine, Dave had a work-study grant and worked about 20 hours per week to contribute to the cost of his education. While he was working in the financial aid office, he learned of the Ebell Scholarship and decided to apply. Having a scholarship from the Ebell allowed him to worry a bit less about financing his education in his junior and senior years at Pepperdine. He continued to work during those years, including a summer job painting dorms. Dave also cites another benefit of receiving the scholarship as a feeling of validation. “Someone must have thought this youth agency administration work I was hoping to do was worth investing in, which made me feel I was on the right path.”
His first posting after graduation was with the YMCA in Burbank, where he directed a pre-school program, before-school and after-school programs, parent/child programs and teen programs. In subsequent years, he worked as a YMCA director in other LA neighborhoods, in Seattle, Houston, and Salinas/Monterey, where he oversaw child care programs and aquatics programs for elementary-level children to high school-aged youth. Later in his career, he put his fundraising skills to work collaborating with organizations ranging from the Seattle Foundation to various youth-serving organizations to various corporate partners raising funds to hire directors to run programs for teens. One such program Dave is especially proud of is the YMCA’s Youth and Government program in California and Washington states, which focuses on building civic literacy. Teens nparticipate in a model legislature, in which each YMCA is a delegation, writing pieces of legislation, sending them through mock committees at the state house, and debating these bills on the floor of the House and Senate chambers. The program provides young people with the opportunity to practice public speaking, learn peaceful conflict resolution skills, to gain self-confidence and team-building skills.
When asked what his many years in youth development work gave him, he says, “A sense of fulfillment in helping the next generation. Young people need caring adults to mentor them because the adolescent years are a challenging time for most kids; and the elementary years are the time to build the self-confidence and sense of self-worth that will be a foundation for success in adolescence.” He’s gratified to have parents and children, who participated in the many programs he ran, contact him years later to share their positive experiences and memories with him. Retired since 2020, Dave is enjoying his life in Seattle hiking and traveling. He and his spouse have plans to do a hiking trip in Switzerland later this year.