My Y story starts as a kid in summer camp. I was a single child of a single mom and so every summer from the time I was 7 till I was 13 I went to the Y summer camp. Camp was a place for me to meet other children in the area from other school districts as I was from a small town outside of Ellsworth. I remember traveling to beaches in the area (now some that I take my kids to), I remember building friendships, counselors who made me feel good about being myself and of course making memories. When I was 13 I was able to become a CIT and go to overnight campouts where Shane Lowell (current DEFY Director of Youth Sports) was our counselor!
My next Y experience was when I came back at 21 to be a camp counselor and assistant director at the summer camp. I loved giving the children the experiences that I had as a child and watching all of the community children grow up, go through high school and into college and still remember me.
Finally 13 years ago I came to the Y after leaving a job in interior design because I needed something more fulfilling in my life. I started out in the trailer behind the Y working with Early Preschool 2-4 yr olds. When I came in I was not sure if this job would be long term or just what would help me get to the next thing. I fell in love! I found I loved working with the kids and their parents to help them become the best little people they could be.
Within a month of starting my husband proposed and so I was in the midst of planning and getting ready for a wedding as well as learning all these new skills for the job. I loved being a part of the Y family and Robin (current DEFY Fitness Director) made a trainer available to help me get ready for my wedding while on my lunch break.
After my wedding I moved into a Lead teacher role for our Infant program and I was nervous to take it on so soon and prove that I could do it. I had so many great mentors and staff to help mold me and the support of family to get me through the hard times.
In 2011 I had my first son and through pregnancy my fellow staff and The Y supported my needs and stepped up when I was put on bedrest. I was so nervous to return to work as a new mom but it was helpful knowing that my little man Bryce would be with me. Being a mom and a leader was a balance that I struggled with but it was the best perk of working here to be a part of his life everyday while he was in care. Then in 2014, I had Blake and got to do it all again and watch him grow through our programs and feel supported by my Y family. My kiddos get to grow up watching what we do for the community and how team work makes everything possible and that if you love what you do it makes for a great career.
When we opened Beechland 3 years ago, I was balancing being a mom, a director, a wife and so much more and during that time my husband and family supported me to make it all possible. My in-laws would and still do take the boys to their Y sports practices and games while my staff made sure I would leave the building to attend school functions and be a mom. The Beechland road project and facility was an amazing endeavor to be a part of, one that brought me to life in the sense of being a part of it all from the beginning. As a team we got to help plan, design and mold the facility into what we thought would be best and then we got to fill it with so many more families to help the community.
Being a Y member and employee has allowed my children and my family the joys of sports, summer camps, childcare, working out, swim lessons and a sense of extended family. I know that if I need help I can turn to my Y family, if I struggle with my weight there’s a trainer and friend who will help me, if my kids need a safe place to go that they will always have one. I love being a part of this community and giving back to it and being a part of something bigger like the Y. I thank my husband Jon for allowing me to do what I love, my mother in law Jean for encouraging me 13 years ago to try something new and all of my family for always being there to see how much passion I have for this lifestyle choice I have made.
That is what it is to work at the YMCA, a lifestyle choice not just a job.