Nicholas Oakes of Falconer is a pretty amazing kid. Son of Sherri Graham and Michael Oakes, who passed away unexpectedly in 2007, Nicholas has become a well-liked part of the Jamestown YMCA.
Nicholas started his Y journey by becoming a volunteer elf for the YMCA when he was 5 years old.
"Nicholas loves playing outside and visiting his neighbor's dogs," said Mrs. Graham. The neighbor is Mark Eckendorf, Jamestown Area YMCA CEO.
Nicholas Oakes aims for the basket during a Tom Buttafaro Youth Basketball league practice at the Jamestown YMCA. Pictured at left, Nicholas Oakes is shown volunteering as Santa’s elf during the Santa arrival at Chautauqua Mall.
"After time, Mr. Eckendorf and Nicholas have become pals from across the yard and they are like family," she said.
Nicholas, a true believer in Santa Claus, was asked by Eckendorf to be an elf for the Santa arrival at Chautauqua Mall, downtown Jamestown Holiday Parade and Santa's Family Workshop at the Jamestown YMCA.
According to Santa, elf Nicholas knew all about the latest toys all the children were asking about for Christmas and wants to do the job until he is ready to retire.
Nicholas also attended Discovery summer day camp under the scholarship program at the Jamestown YMCA where he met a lot of friends and YMCA staff.
"Nicholas has had a great time at summer camp learning new things, making friends and participating in various field trips," said Ronda Piazza, YMCA Child Care executive. "It's so heartwarming to see children in an environment where they flourish, and he is one of those kids who just blossoms at the Y."
Mrs. Graham definitely agrees with that too.
"As a parent, you wish you could spend the more hours during the summer with your child, but as a working parent it is not a possibility," said Mrs. Graham.
"It is nice to know that there is a place like the Y that provides child care, healthy lunches, exercise, entertainment and the opportunity to go places that Nicholas would have not have been otherwise able to do. With the scholarship program, I am able to afford to send Nick there."
Being a first-year member of the Tom Buttafaro Youth Basketball league at the Y has given Nicholas the chance to learn new skills like dribbling without looking at the ball, passing and the fundamentals of basketball.
"My New Year's resolution is to grow 2 inches taller to make baskets easier," said Nicholas.
With the help of the Y and his outgoing nature, many people say "hi" to Nicholas around town and in Y programs, which makes him feel special.
Swimming lessons and karate are the next YMCA programs Nicholas would like to join.