Rye Y members, staff, and volunteers shared their personal stories — from the backstories that brought them to the Y to the successes and challenges encountered on the road to healthy living.
Rye Y members, staff, and volunteers shared their personal stories — from the backstories that brought them to the Y to the successes and challenges encountered on the road to healthy living. Over the course of two days — November 1 and 2 — 27 members sat down with staff interviewers in a “story booth,” built out of a large gym mat. The first “Voices from the Community: The Rye Y Story Project” was scheduled to run for three days, but was delayed due to Hurricane Sandy. Seven staff members were interviewed in the days leading up to the Story Project. Children from the Y’s After School Adventures program also participated. On a pre-printed form, they contributed interesting facts about themselves and what they like about the Y.
Modeled loosely on National Public Radio’s “Story Corps Project,” the Rye Y project was launched to further the sense of community that already exists at the Y. Executive Director Gregg Howells remarked, “We were touched and gratified by the stories we heard. It’s clear that the Y is so much more than a gym or childcare center; it’s a community hub where people share their hopes, their goals, and their challenges, and where they support each other.”
Sitting in the story booth, Harrison resident Danielle Lazarakis said, “As a mother of two young children, if I get 20 minutes, I come here. It’s something I do for me. It’s part of my life now.” Bill Dichter, who takes aqua jog classes with his wife Carol Ann,” told an interviewer, “The Y is a community of good people and we love being part of it … it is our lifeline for our hearts and flexibility, and we’ll keep coming until they carry us out.”
“Everyone has a story to tell,” Howells concluded. “We hope that our members will continue to share their stories with us.”
If you have a story to share with the Y, you can do so in person by making an appointment with Denise Woodin. Call 967-6363, ext. 101, or go to ryeymca.org.
One member told her story to Ann Ivan, Fitness Center Director.
“I’ve been a member for 20 years. My kids are now adults, but they grew up in the YMCA. It’s a way of life for us. Whenever I’ve relocated, the first question for me is, “OK, where is the YMCA?”
“I was called to the ministry. I thought I would retire as a schoolteacher but after 21 years, more and more people were telling me ‘You have a pastor’s heart.’ I did feel the calling stronger and stronger, and I decided to leave teaching and attend seminary. I became an ordained Reverend and I have a very strong conviction about my work.
“When I found the Rye YMCA, it was like a homecoming. When the Y opened its doors to the community after the Hurricane, I told one of my colleagues, ‘This is a class act right here.’ That’s why I’m a member of the Y and why I support the Strong Kids Campaign financially. I believe in the work of the YMCA, to give back to our youth and seniors. They are a vulnerable population that needs the comfort, support, and nurturing the Y provides.
“I have a very stressful vocation as the pastor of a large church in Mt. Vernon. I really need time just for me. It’s not just about getting exercise, although of course that’s important. It feeds my spirit. The YMCA is a lifesaver for me.”