We know that lasting personal and social change comes about when we all work together. That’s why, at the Y, strengthening community is our cause. Every day, we work side-by-side with our neighbors to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.
The YMCA’s Annual Giving Campaign ensures that the Y is there for those who need us most and enables every community member to have access to diverse programs and activities that meet their needs, like after school care, youth sports, LIVESTRONG at the YMCA and swim lessons.
Read below some stories of members of our community who had the opportunity to participate in YMCA programs and who were positively impacted by them.
Improve Academic Performance
Jasmine - YMCA Teen Programs
Jasmine is a soft spoken, sweet teenage girl. Active for the past three years in YMCA Achievers, her passion for the program truly shows. “We talk about our lives, share experiences with people whom we have become close with, create bonds and support each other academically,” she says.
Jasmine has had multiple experiences through YMCA Teen Achievers, each impacting her in a different way. She has attended the Freedom Tour to learn about the Civil Rights movement, the Blue Ridge Christian Values Conference in North Carolina and one of the yearly Teen Escape service learning trips to Chicago.
Jasmine has made true friendships, strengthened her faith, given back to her community and learned not to worry about being judged by others. Her favorite thing about participating in Y Achievers is the college tours. “I really like to go on these tours because I get to see myself attending those universities one day,” she says.
Norjelly - After School and YMCA Teen Programs
Norma is a single mother who walked into a YMCA facility looking for a place where her daughter, Norjelly, could feel safe and part of a family. Working late hours cleaning houses, she could not afford much and was in need of help.
Norjelly quickly grew to love the Y, a place she now calls home. Since joining, she has participated in multiple programs, such as after school, teen camp, dance and has attended the Junior High Christian Values Conference for two consecutive years. In the after school program, Norjelly receives help with her homework and also participates in fun activities such as arts and crafts, group discussions and games.
Norma has noticed a great improvement in her daughter and is very grateful to the Y. “She’s much more sociable, is active and involved, her grades have improved, and she talks about her future, about becoming a lawyer one day,” she says.
Manuel, Neveah, Jacob and Pablo - YMCA Day Camp
Gloria currently has temporary custody of her four grandchildren because her daughter, Belkis, was killed in a domestic violence situation by the children’s father. Belkis was an active member at the Y and would always talk about how her children enjoyed going to the center with her.
At the Y, Gloria has found a safe place for her grandchildren. Manuel, Neveah, Jacob and Pablo are enrolled in day camp. “They look forward to coming to the Y and don’t want to go home at the end of the day,” Gloria says.
Spending time at the Y keeps the children from feeling depressed and keeps their minds occupied. It also allows Gloria time to take care of legal issues and attend court appointments regarding the children.
“The Y has helped me a lot because I don’t have family here to help. The kids are safe and having fun, and they tell me great stories,” Gloria says.
Lucas - YMCA Day Camp
Like most 11-year-old boys, Lucas could not get enough of television and video games. His mom, Leticia, worried about how he struggled with homework and making friends at school.
She enrolled him in STEM Day Camp at the Y. She knew he needed to be active, and she hoped he would become more engaged academically. The structure of the lessons worked well with Lucas’ learning style. “For the first time he was really interested in something academic,” said Leticia.
The Y offers STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)-focused day camps during the summer to keep campers active and engaged. They can also be the spark that lights a life-long interest in science.
When Lucas returned to school, his teachers noticed a difference in him too. His grades improved so much that he applied and was one of the few students accepted into a STEM-focused middle school. He hopes to one day become an engineer.
Eliminate Chronic Disease and Childhood Obesity
Adelaide - LIVESTRONG at the YMCA
Adelaide is a 74-year-old breast cancer survivor who is recovering from a knee replacement, vestibular issues and other physical challenges that make exercising a daunting task.
She joined the YMCA to participate in water aerobics classes but soon learned about the LIVESTRONG program and decided to give it a try. LIVESTRONG at the YMCA supports adult cancer survivors who are trying to reclaim their normal lives both physically and emotionally.
“After our first meeting, I knew I had met a group of interesting, strong participants who would bond quickly with each other and with our coaches,” she says.
Adelaide has found the strength and support she needed to get back to her old, familiar lifestyle. “The LIVESTRONG leaders have taken us a long way in a short time, and for me this journey is adding up to be one huge blessing for which I am very grateful,” she says.
Lynnea - YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program
At an annual physical exam in the latter part of 2014, Lynnea was diagnosed with prediabetes. She was advised to lose weight and exercise more. Her doctor provided her with specific counseling, but she subsequently learned about a much more extensive program for individuals with prediabetes at the YMCA.
She joined the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program knowing how damaging diabetes can be to a person. In the classes, Lynnea had access to health education, wellness and nutrition tips as well as her support group.
Lynnea has changed her lifestyle drastically. “My husband and I have both become more conscious of our intake of fats and also of the need for daily exercise. We now look at food labels at the grocery store and prepare meals more responsibly,” she says.
Lynnea has lost 20 pounds and no longer has prediabetes. Her blood glucose level has also dropped eight points.
Matthew - YMCA Youth Sports
Matthew is a typical 10-year-old who loves to play sports with his cousins and friends. Yet, when Matthew was six years old, he was overweight, shy and was anxious around others. His father Florencio had a stroke that left him partially paralyzed and unable to play sports with his son. Playing basketball, soccer and NFL flag football at the YMCA helped him fill that void.
When Matthew scored a touchdown during the last game of the season, “The whole team cheered for Matthew, who was proud and had a smile from ear to ear. I wanted to run into the field to celebrate with him,” Florencio says.
Matthew is much more outgoing and participates as a team leader. When interacting with his teammates, no one could ever tell that he once felt out of place. “I’m not nervous anymore because I get to play with my family and best friends,” he says.