The YMCA has been a go-to place in the community throughout my life. I first started at the Norwich YMCA in swim lessons when I was 5 years old. I made many lifelong friends there. My dad passed away just a few weeks before my 7th birthday. I will never forget how my mom found a way to make that hard day special; she threw a YMCA splash party for me and all my friends. I joined the Norwich Field Band in high school and again the Y was there. They hosted us before our championships at the Carrier Dome each year. From age 16 through 18, my mom and I bonded by getting memberships at the Y. We worked out together in the Fitness Center and yoga classes. The Y also provided a safe place for me while my mom worked. She dropped me off at the Y before her shift started and I took an early morning Spin Class. Then I walked to my grandma’s to catch the bus to school. After school I returned to the Y. I did homework or another work-out until my mom picked me up at the end of her shift.
I graduated from high school in 2011 and I moved to Johnson City to attend SUNY Broome. I only made it one semester as a full-time student because of finances. I dropped back to part-time and struggled through a rough patch of unemployment. So, I spent a lot of time volunteering at a church thrift shop. One of the other volunteers told me about the Membership Service job at the West Family YMCA. I applied and got the position…ending 15 months of joblessness. I found it rewarding working for the agency that had been there for me.
My afternoon Member Services shift allowed me to return to SUNY Broome for morning classes. I graduate this December with a Health Sciences degree. I’m also currently in my first semester of the Nursing Program and plan to graduate as a Registered Nurse in May 2019. My YMCA co-workers and members have supported and encouraged me in countless ways.
My favorite part of the YMCA is getting to know the members! I have made many friends and learned so much from them. My favorite class is Sue B.’s Shallow Aqua Intervals at West. It’s fantastic and gets your heart pumping. I appreciate the mutual accountability; other members tease me when I miss a class and “expect a good excuse” for my absence. I also enjoyed personal training with Diane, until homework deadlines got in the way of my workout time. I value working at place that makes a difference in our community. Last year I brought four friends to the annual YMCA Thanksgiving Dinner. They were very grateful because they wouldn’t have had a traditional meal, otherwise. They also picked out winter coats for themselves and their children donated by YMCA members.
I am truly thankful for each opportunity the YMCA has provided for me to live, grow and thrive in my community.