Humanitarian Awards


Michael W. Brunker

Executive Director, Jackie Robinson Family YMCA San Diego

Aloha teaches mutual regard and affection. Aloha teaches us that each person is importanto to one another, because it takes a village to raise its children. Aloha encourages us to be award of the needs of others. Old Hawaiian Proverb

Michael W. Brunker

Biography of Michael W. Brunker by Jamie Supinger-Crowley

The spirit of Aloha is ingrained in those who have been raised on the islands of Hawaii, but the Aloha Spirit can develop far across the Pacific Ocean, transcend the continental United States and be engendered even in Detroit, Michigan. The story of Michael Bunker’s life is the spirit of Aloha unfolding unknowingly by the main character in the story.

Michael was born in Detroit, Michigan. Memorable from Michael’s childhood was when his family bought their first (and only) home. Legendary Detroit Tiger broadcaster, Ernie Harwell, pulled a postcard out of a barrel with his mother’s name on it and she won “his and her” cars on Mother’s Day in 1962. Michael’s father was able to sell both cars and use the proceeds to purchase the family’s home.

Graduating from St. James HS in Ferndale, Michigan, in 1970, Michael matriculated at the University of Detroit and in 1974 he graduated with a B.A. in Political Science and a Michigan Secondary Education Certificate. The next thirteen years of his life were involved with coaching basketball, starting at the high school level, followed by coaching at the university lever, then a stint with the NBA’s Detroit Pistons and then a major move from Michigan to San Diego as a assistant coach at San Diego State University. Coaching has played an important part in Michael’s life where his leadership sills have inspired self-motiation in his players to achieve team and personal goals.

Well known as a role model in the community, Michael discovers areas of need and seeks to provide support and develop programs that address those needs. Launching the nationally recognized “6-6 Extended School Day Program” for 500 students at four elementary and two middle schools, is but one of numerous examples of Michael’s ability to build positive programs that serve the particular needs of various age and ethnic groups, all while strengthening their lives.

As the current Executive Director of the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA in San Diego, Michael works with limited fiscal resources. An example of his ability to attract others to support common goals, is the improved facilities at the YMCA, which were built with the gifts of time, treasures, and talents by its supporters. Recently completed projects include the Learning Center, Little Padres Ballpark, outdoor soccer arena, outdoor basketball complex, playground, and the addition of stadium lighting for all outdoor facilities to ensure night play. Michael also has the innate ability to recruit and retain volunteers an staff for the facility that reflects the multi-cultural population of the service area. . He has built strong and well-traveled bridges from the YMCA to the surrounding community and back.

Michael Brunker is a dedicated family man. Of his wife, Maria Elena, he says, “She has made it possible for me to spend my heaven doing good on earth.” Married since 1976, the Brunkers are the proud parents of five children, Maria, Michael, Mario, Michelle and Marianna. The family is united by love, faith, and emphasis on education, community involvement and a whole lot of the letter M.

Michael Brunker typifies the very type of person that JTF is honored to recognize as a Humanitarian Award recipient. Michael’s big heart, positive outlook, concern for youth and personal warmth exemplify the Aloha Spirit that is the very heart of the Jonathan Tarr Foundation.

Michael W. Brunker was nominated by:
  • Edgar Engert
  • North County Businessman and Community Leader
  • 2003 JTF Humanitarian Award Recipient

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