Due to COVID-19 some of our regular programs and services may be on hold temporarily. Our pools will be reopening on August 10. Stay up to date on what is currently available within your YMCA and H2O centres on our COVID-19 Updates page

 

Growing up, my family suffered greatly at the hands of my abusive and alcoholic father. My mother was a smart woman who had to methodically orchestrate our departure while my brother, sister and I were still young. After leaving she was free but was also a single mother with little money and a grade 10 education.

A week after moving to Sault Ste. Marie, we were able to join the YMCA because of their financial assistance program. It became our second home. My little brother, sister and I took part in every single program available and the staff helped take care of us. Although we lived in a bad neighborhood, the Y kept us busy and out of trouble. Our family ended up volunteering together at the Y, sometimes 40 hours a week before we got jobs.

The community, supports and sense of belonging my mother received at the Y were essential to her healing. She found a job at the Y and finished her high school education. She ended up working in member services, as did us kids. After a lot of hard work, she was also able to finish her college diploma and build a career in youth corrections.
 
The Y inspired me to pursue my education in recreation as I knew from an early age that I wanted to build a career with the Y. Over the years, I’ve worked in almost every single department. Once I became a mom, I made sure my two sons started participating in Y swim lessons as young as 3 months old. They are grown now but have both worked and volunteered at numerous YMCA’s and Y camps. 

After moving across the country and now working for the YMCA of Okanagan, I am again relying on the Y for a community to belong to. The Y has always been there for me and I continuously feel the need to return the favor by donating, volunteering, and working hard to keep this a sanctuary for so many families like mine. 

The Y kept my siblings and I off the streets, in a positive environment, and gifted us so many lifelong skills we wouldn’t have otherwise had. I have come full circle, being able to give back now, and it’s an incredible feeling.

Donating to the Y doesn’t just provide financial assistance. It provides access to a safe place and sense of belonging for struggling families and for many kids at risk of straying down the wrong path.