Tres Fordham is a man who likes to live his life in the background.
He grew up an Army brat. Born in Munich, Germany and traveling across the country with his father who served in Vietnam. In 1969 when his father retired from service he moved the family back home to Winston-Salem where he was raised.
Fordham spent many of his formative years in Clemmons, where he attended North Forsyth High School and played almost every sport he could.
“I loved playing baseball, basketball, and football,” Fordham said. “If it had a ball involved I liked to play it. I also swam.”
Upon graduating Fordham went on to UNC-Chapel Hill, where he earned a degree in recreation administration. He couldn’t find a career that he felt suited him so he decided to join a colleague from church and his brother who worked building houses.
After five years of construction he went into business with his in-laws working in commercial grading but after another five years he felt that he needed to put his education to use.
“I called the lady at the YMCA near my home and told her that I had been out of school for 10 years and that I would love to get a career in the YMCA. She suggested that I get back in school and take some refresher courses,” Fordham said.
Fordham promptly signed up for a master’s program at UNC-Greensboro and started a new career as a stay at home dad to his son.
“This was from the time my son was 18 months old till he was 3 years old, so it was a great time. I didn’t have to worry about diapers or any of that stuff; we just got to play,” Fordham said with a smile.
Once he graduated with his master’s, Fordham decided to follow through with the Jerry Long YMCA and apply for an aquatics director position. He as offered the position and started working in August of 1996.
He served as the aquatics director for five years before being promoted to associate director where he served for another two years.
In 2003, another new chapter in Fordham’s life would begin. He took the branch operations manager position at the Yadkin Family YMCA and was quickly promoted to executive director one year later. This promotion would lead Fordham to move him and his family out of the home he’d known for over 30 years.
“When I came to the YMCA here I decided to move closer,” Fordham said. “It wasn’t a requirement to move to the community with the YMCA, but particularly with a small community where there is only one YMCA in the community, it just felt right to be here and get to know the people and get to know the community.”
Today Fordham lives on Main Street in Yadkinville and attends Yadkinville United Methodist after he committed to becoming a part of the community he works in.
Fordham said that he knew nothing about the YMCA prior to working for the organization. During his time here he says that he has learned the difference between working for a paycheck and working to make a difference.
“The Y has really opened my eyes to the fact that business that can impact communities versus businesses that just make money,” Fordham said. “Before I was working building houses just to make money or I was doing commercial grading to make money and I wasn’t having any real impact.
“Seeing the impact and the difference that the Y and the programs we have here can make on people’s lives helps me not to focus on me as much,” Fordham continued.
When he’s not dedicating his time with the YMCA, Fordham often spends his time with his family and at church. He says he enjoys playing golf though he’s not very good at it and doesn’t get to play as often as he’d like and that he enjoys bike riding, watching sports on TV and reading.
For the most part he says that he just enjoys finding ways to spend time with his daughter, son and wife.
“I spend 10 out of 13 weeks in the spring on a ball field somewhere watching my kids play ball,” Fordham said. “My son likes to pick up cars and refurbish them and sell them. He’s on his eighth car now and that’s something for us to do.”
Fordham said that he doesn’t have any lofty personal goals but he would like to see the perception of the YMCA continue to change and for the entire county to feel welcome.
“When I first got here I heard that it was kind of like a country club and that people thought they couldn’t afford it,” Fordham said. “People didn’t know that we did an annual fundraising campaign so anyone could come to the Y. I would really like for our community to understand that we want everybody to be a part of the Y.”
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at email@example.com.