February 9, 2014

Reasons Y

To counterbalance last week's frustrated rant, and for the good it does my soul to speak positive truths, I'll share some gratitude today. A couple of years ago I shared a post on the joy our family found in joining our local YMCA. With all the things that have changed in our lives, this is one that has not. I work at the Y now, part-time, and last week I had the opportunity to speak at a luncheon to a group of coworkers and fundraiser volunteers about my experience with this incredible organization. I've taken out the names of the people I mentioned, just for privacy's sake, but the rest of that speech is here, word for word. I mean each one. 


I want to thank you all for the opportunity to come here today and share my Y story. My story is very personal, but I believe it is in the moments when we, as a Y family touch each others' lives personally that the true worth and value of the YMCA organization is revealed. Through the three tenets of the Y vision--Social Responsibility, Healthy Living, and Youth Development--we have daily opportunities to share the human experience and affect lives in our community. My family's life has been positively impacted by the Y in more ways than I can express.

In September of 2013, just before I began working here in Childwatch, my thirteen year marriage came to a sudden and unexpected end. Saying nothing of the emotional devastation his absence wreaked upon me and my three children, the financial support he provided for us was very suddenly and very drastically reduced. I, a veteran stay-at-home-mom of nine years, who'd dropped out of college to move for her husband's career, found myself in the position of parenting and providing for three young children 90% on my own. I was determined to take care of them, to heal, to go back to school, to work hard and show my children how to rise above the hard knocks of life, but I needed help. I needed childcare for Jasper, my youngest. I needed a safe and healthy environment for Laurelei and Riley, my oldest and middle, to be in after school. I needed a place where I could come and get the regular exercise I need to manage the heart condition which affects me. And then, as the year progressed and my daughter Laurelei was diagnosed with the same potentially fatal congenital heart disorder, I also needed her to be around people who would look out for her, people who knew how to use an AED, people who could keep her safe while still allowing her to be the irrepressibly active kid she is. 

Through the generosity of donors who make program and membership assistance possible, we have found what we need--and beyond that, what we want and love: an environment which has strengthened us through the most difficult trials of our lives--here at the Y. ___'s help was invaluable in helping me to set up our family membership in an affordable way. In a matter of just one day, ___ and ___ and I were able to get Jasper set up for daycare at the Development Center, and later I applied for and received assistance in putting Laurelei and Riley on the Rock Climbing Team. Yesterday at the climbing team's first practice, I showed up at 4:30, ready to brief Coach ___ and Coach ___ on Laurelei's medical condition, only to find they had already been filled in. They were on top of it and knew what to do. 

As a mom who, by necessicity, can no longer be at her children's sides quite as much as she used to be, or quite as much as she'd like to be, I am relieved and grateful to come to the Y each afternoon and find my children happy and engaged in healthy activities. Whether that is Jasper smiling and laughing in the daycare or Laurelei and Riley playing a game in the Youth Center with ____ or ____, or climbing on the rock wall, or running around in the gym, I know they are surrounded by people who truly care for their well being. To also know that circumstance is one which will never be dictated by our financial status is an added comfort and blessing. I am determined that someday I will be the donor who writes the check that changes a Y family's life. Thank you, each of you, for volunteering your time to help the Y and so many families like mine.