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There are a million Y Stories out there. Everybody seems to have one. What's yours?
"I have swum at your pool since you opened. I am 82 years old and I have swum laps for 62 years. I also taught swimming for Huston-Tilloston College (now university) at your pool for eight years. I found your facility a wonderful place to teach"
"When I was in college, an eon ago, I joined the YWCA and volunteered for a position on the Cabinet and Counsel. I was very active in Y activities on my campus, Wichita State University. After my sophomore year, we were given the opportunity to sign up for YMCA World Service. Jobs were available in New York City and on Martha's Vineyard and a few other places. The job in New York City would be working at Henry Street Settlement House as a pre-school teacher. I had read about this place in my sociology book! Its founder, Lillian Wald, was a friend of Jane Addams, of Hull House in Chicago. Settlement houses worked with the communities, providing job counseling, language classes and recreation. Their clients were in public housing and tenement houses. I immediately applied and started saving for the trip. I got the job, and took the train to New York City with four other girls from my school. Wow! For a sheltered teenager from Kansas, my first impressions of New York were almost overwhelming. There were seven of us at Henry Street, two teachers for each class of about 12-15 preschoolers. My roommates were from all over the country: Ohio, South Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Louisiana, South Dakota, and myself from Kansas. The children were multi-ethnic, Puerto Ricans, Jews, blacks. We taught them the ABC's, sang songs and took them to parks and zoos, even to the beach once. In the evenings and on weekends, our YMCA sponsors showed us the city. We had interviews with a juvenile court judge, a social worker, and a borough executive, and visited on a hospital ship. There were thirty of us college kids scattered at YMCA facilities around town and we managed to have some fun on our own as well, going to Broadway shows (the cheap seats) and museums. After working and studying with all those different cultures and different agencies, I came back a different girl. My eyes were opened to new ideas and opportunities. I knew I would be a teacher, and that didn't change. But my attitude toward other ethnicities and cultures sure changed. All my life I have been open to new ideas and have never known a stranger. I am at home with people of many different cultures. The YMCA changed my life."
"My "Y Story" is quickly approaching 50 years in the making. I grew up in a small town in upstate New York one of eight children being raised by a single Mother. We were fortunate as a family to be provided financial assistance memberships to the local Y there. My Mother knew that her children didn't belong playing out on the streets of our under privledged neighborhood. We were allowed three different destinations. A friends house, a nearby park or playground or the "Y". More often than not the "Y" became like our second home. There were so many activities that kept us engaged whether it be swimming, basketball, the game rooms Saturday "Fun Days", "Y" sleep overs and even two weeks of attendance at the YMCA summer day camp. It is with those opportunities provided to my family long ago that today I happily participate in the annual Partner of Youth Campaign and strongly urge my entire "Y" family to come on board and support such a worthy cause. Thank you YMCA for all you do."
"Yes, I appreciate the financial assistance that the YMCA provides. My son goes to PPCD classes, and it is rare that he likes school. But the afterschool care is amazing. They are hands-on and help them with homework, and on fridays they have fun and watch movies. I appreciate YMCA assistance. I work 8am-6 pm, and if it wasn't for them I would be lost...Thank you very much YMCA I give yall a hands up and a big aplause.
"The East Communities Y partnered with our school to provide free swimming lessons to all of our students in 1st and 2nd grade in the 2009-2010 school year. Many of our students would not otherwise have the opportunity to learn to swim. As a result of our partnership, more than 150 6 and 7 year olds learned to swim. Not only did learning to swim improve their confidence and fitness, but it could also save a life. We are deeply grateful to the Y for making this program available to our students at Decker Elementary. We look forward to continuing our partnership this school year and beyond."
--Leslie Whitworth, Principal, Decker Elementary
"In 1996, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I came to the Y religiously to swim. I remember rolling from side to side with this big belly as I swam lap after lap. I remember when my father-in-law (now deceased) visited from England and swam with me and his not yet born granddaughter. I remember dropping my baby at the nursery, getting in a maximum of 6 laps in and finding the caregiver at the end of the lane with my screaming daughter in her arms. Swim time was up. I remember swimming through the grief of loosing my mother. Swimming through hot flashes to help me get a good night's sleep. And over a year and a half ago, I remember swimming through the first 30 days recovery after walking into my very first AA meeting. The Y is a place where I have come over and over again to build my strength and be refreshed. I am so grateful."
"I grew up going to the YMCA at the end of my block in South St Louis. I took swimming lessons, karate, gym classes and even worked out in the tiny fitness center until I moved out of my parents house. After a good seventeen years of the place, its distinctive smell lodged itself in my permanent memory. Since I now have a YMCA (Northwest location) practically down the street from me now, a kiddo who needs swimming lessons and sports activities, as well as gym facilities, joining seemed an obvious choice. When I walked in, I inhaled deeply. And there it was - that YMCA smell. The glorious aroma of chlorine, sweat and effort. I felt as though I had come home. This particular YMCA has nice facilities, inside and out. They are clean, very new and well taken care of. Since joining, my son and I have spent much time here in the pool, playground and on the basketball court. Though a different location in a new city, it feels as comfortable as my childhood Y."
"I grew up in the YMCA beginning with the Y in Baltimore, Maryland. This was the same Y where my Father learned to swim when he was young. My Father was in the military when I was young so our time together was limited. Some of my greatest memories were at Guide meetings and Campouts with my Dad. The Y was so important to me it became my profession after leaving Texas A&M (a school with a great YMCA tradition) back in 1988. I served the Y from 1988 until 2000, leading programs in Brazil, Japan and Mexico as well as here in the US. I met my wife at the YMCA and all three of our beautiful children have spent many hours in Y pools, sports field etc. I am thankful for the YMCA and for my parent's commitment to involve me as a child in values based programs. Our family's core values of Respect, Responsibility, Honesty, Caring and Faith align beautifully with that of the YMCA. I live a long way from my folks now but still end every phone conversation with my Father with the words "Pals forever!."
"I had big swim goal of swimming 2.4 miles. When I started I couldn't swim across the pool. I was horrible. Really, I was so incompetent on many levels that people would actually whispe, "How is she going to make it?" Then I met Sharon, the Mr. Miyagi of Swimming Instructors. She had this amazing insight into making my stroke more efficient. She would give me these weird specific drills that at the time didn't make much sense and I would practice these until they became comfortable. In a short amount of time, like magic, my swim stroke came together. I could finally breathe easier, relax more in the water, and was 100x more comfortable. Then I joined Master Swim Class and honed my skills further. Thanks to the Y having incredible instructors and programs. I just finished my first ironman and swam 2.4 miles EASILY. I know I couldn't have done it without Sharon (Mr Miyagi) and Carolyn's inspiration and support (Master Swim Class)."