Tales of Hope and Support Through the Y’s Community Project

For the third year in a row, the Rye YMCA staff reached out to members to hear stories about what their involvement with the Y has meant to them. 

Published February 7, 2015 5:00 AM
4 min read


B&O-PattyTHFor the third year in a row, the Rye YMCA staff reached out to members to hear stories about what their involvement with the Y has meant to them. 

By Bill Lawyer   

For the third year in a row, the Rye YMCA staff reached out to members to hear stories about what their involvement with the Y has meant to them. Over the course of three days in November, the Y staff set up a booth in the lobby and interviewed adults of all ages and backgrounds, along with some children.  

B&O-Michael-BassoAmong the questions were: “What brought you to the Y? What are your goals? What have been your challenges, your successes, your successes?” Participants were asked to share stories about the relationships they and their children have formed in classes and camps. Each interview took about 20 minutes.  

The project, long-term, helps the Y fine-tune member services by giving staff a greater understanding of what’s important to members. “The Y wants members to get to know each other better, and to learn from one another’s experiences,” said Lisa Tidball, Director of Communications. By including participants’ photos along with their stories, other members are able to put names to the faces they see when they go to the Y.  

In all, Y staff interviewed 47 members last fall, and 45 of them agreed to allow their stories and photos to be part of the exhibit that opened January 14, and graces the Y stair walls for everyone to see. The Y also intends to post all the comments and photos on their website. The ones from 2012 and 2013 are still there.  

Tidball and Denise Woodin, Director of Community Impact & Social Responsibility, coordinated the Voices of the Community Story Project” with the help of Debora Schiff and Ira Berkowitz of Members Services.  

In reading through the participants’ comments, one sees that each has a particular story to tell.  

B&O-David-Gammon-pixHere’s an excerpt from what member David Gammon had to say:

“I joined last September. I started with the Group Active class, which was perfect because it is a good balance of everything – cardio and weights. Then I started with the Fitness Center. Laura and the other staff helped me get started, not just with how to use the equipment, but how to eat as well. I’ve lost about 35 pounds and gained muscle. I’ve been very focused on getting healthy.

“To my surprise, I was inspiring others to continue working toward their goals. A few months ago, Barbara and Diana approached me about working at the Y.  

So now I work at the Membership Services Desk and the Fitness Center.

I feel wonderful. It is like night and day. I was pretty miserable for a long time. I’ve learned to never give up on myself. I enjoy the time I’m here and my new friends so much. My confidence is boosted – I’m making headway with my music and voiceover career. The Y brought out my real self.”

Karen Shanes has been a member “off and on” for 20 years. She recently joined the TRIBE, a triathlon program for women that is ready to “educate and inspire you to achieve your goal of competing in your first triathlon.” Here’s her description of how it worked out:

B&O-Patty-Bottomley“I joined the TRIBE to prove to myself that despite having five herniated disks and bone-on-bone knees, I could go beyond my physical limitations, and that I could succeed in my goal of completing the triathlon, with the support and encouragement of the Y coaches.

“My mantra to myself was ‘If I compete, I will complete!’ At the end, I wanted to cry with emotion. All I could think was ‘I did it!’”

At the January 23 public reception, many of the members whose stories were on exhibit were engaged in animated conversation. One mother with young children said that without the Tot Drop and other programs for children, she didn’t know how she could have coped.  

You don’t have to be a member to stop in and see this intimate and interesting exhibit, which runs through February 27.



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