Your story—whether it's about you, the people you know, or an entire community—has the potential to motivate others with real-life tales of how the Y not only promises but also delivers positive change. Through your unique and special voice, the Y can share your story to bring people together to invest in our kids, our health, and our neighbors. If a story about the Y has meaning for you and you're willing to tell it, then we believe it's worth hearing. The only thing more important than the words you have to say is the untold lives your story touches. Please email us your story to help spread the word to

Susan Clegg “Just the other a day memory on Facebook popped up and showed that 2 years ago “My Y Story” was hanging up in the hallway at the Y and now I think it is time to update it! I LOVE coming to the Y almost every day after work. It’s my place to unwind from a hectic day. There are young and old, big and small, all shapes, and all colors, but everyone gets along. There are no judgments and I feel very safe at the Y. I started going to the Y to prevent a knee replacement operation and it worked for 2 years! I did Coach Approach, told the coach what I needed to fix, we worked out an exercise plan for me, and I stuck to it. But a cancer operation set me back, physically and financially. I called the Y and was able to put my membership on hold, saving me that monthly expense as I was told by my doctor I could not do any physical activities that would increase blood flow. Because I quit my daily routine overtime my arthritic knee began to deteriorate. I was now walking with a cane and in incredible pain. On March 5, 2019, I had a total knee replacement. I was released from Physical Therapy but told I needed to continue with daily exercise so back to the Y I went. Being so stressed out with all my medical bills I can’t tell you what a relief it was to get financial assistance from the Y for my monthly membership. Today I am happy to say persistence has paid off. I have never been in such great shape. I had to do a health assessment for my insurance and its the 1st time in 10 years I scored a 97%. All my numbers are good, my new knee is such a blessing. Thanks to the YMCA for
being there for me!”

Larry Sorie “I have been a member of the Y for almost two years.I joined the Y after I had a stroke in 2016. When I first became a member was not able to do much so I did the Post Rehab program and after that, I did a lot of personal training. I believe that God put the right people in the right place and I am so thankful for that because I have come so far from where I started.I can now drive again, mow my grass, and even play golf! The Y has helped me gain these skills back and has given me so much strength. I now believe that I can get back to how I was before I even had a stroke. As a 73-year-old, I know that will take work but I am positive that I can do it with the people of the people at the Y. The Y has truly been a blessing to me and I am glad that this place a been a part of my journey.”

Maggie McAllister has been a member of the Y for 4 years. She has been in our Enhance Fitness Program at Covenant Homes for over 2 months. Since being in this program, Maggie has seen great improvements in her health and social activities. “I have diabetes and high blood pressure and my A1C level has already gown down. My balance has improved a lot and I am able to keep my joints loose in this program. I also really enjoy the social atmosphere that Enhance Fitness provides. I am able to interact with and get to know my neighbors better each week. I am thankful for this program at Covenant Homes because it provides easy access for me to attend classes since I do not have transportation. This program has impacted me so much already and I look forward to improving even more.”

Glessa and Willie Morris “My husband and I started walking three miles in our hometown of Nashville earlier this year. Walking on concrete was not good for our backs and knees so my doctor suggested that we join the YMCA. Approximately 6 months ago we joined the Y and we LOVE it! Each week we walk three miles a day. Sometimes, we will even add another half mile or a full mile to our walk. We feel that the best way to keep our body and mind in top shape is to be physically active. At the Y almost everyone, no matter their physical condition, can engage in at least some form of exercise. We also love that there is professionally trained staff who are always willing to help. We enjoy meeting and interacting with the staff and members at the Y because each and every one of us can always exercise our minds even if our bodies don’t always cooperate. Exercising and being active has so many positive effects on blood pressure, arthritis, body fat, diabetes, and more. My husband and I are 70 and 72 years old and we truly believe that no matter what age you are, exercising can help you achieve greater physical and mental fulfillment. We are so blessed to be a part of this YMCA family and are happy we became members!”

Vanda Watkins “When I retired over seven years ago, I was satisfied staying home snaking, watching TV, and relaxing. All was well until I had a doctors visit where I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic. My level was so close to diabetes my doctor compared it to me standing on the end of a ledge and any small gust of wind could blow me over into diabetes; which would change my life forever. I noticed that I was starting to gain weight and I would get winded climbing the stairs to my secondfloor apartment. After this, I knew I had to make a change. I recently joined the Y and signed up for Enhance Fitness. It was a great fit for me and I improved so much that by the end of the session I had mastered some skills and could climb the steps to my apartment without being out of breath. I’ve made diet changes, including eliminating Sweet Tea (my favorite), fast food, and candy. Because of these changes I have lost 12 pounds already! More importantly, as of my last doctors visit I am no longer pre-diabetic. My doctor and I are both so amazed! I am now taking Body Sculpt Class and I have enrolled in the next session of Enhance Fitness. The classes and instructors are so welcoming and I have had such a positive experience here at the Y! I look forward to continuing participating in more programs.”

Vickie James “I became a member of the Y almost eight years ago. I wanted to make a change in my life and focus on living a healthier lifestyle. At the time I was looking for things to do to begin my health journey. I was laid off from my job and I felt it was the perfect time to join the Y. Since becoming a member, I have become so much healthier and happier. The Y has become a part of me now. I have made so many friends with people who I wouldn’t have met anywhere else. I am now able to play and be active with my grandkids which is something I am so grateful for. I love that the Y offers so many different things that my husband and I can be a part of together. We participate in things like fitness classes, walking upstairs, personal training, and my husband loves Pickleball. We enjoy Deep Water classes with Agnes and feel it is a great workout with low impact on our joints. We also do some weight training together which has helped us tone and increase muscle strength. Everyone here is always smiling and willing to help which creates such a friendly atmosphere! The interaction that we have with others always lifts our mood and keeps us coming back. The Y has been and will continue to be a wonderful tool for me on my weight loss journey. I enjoy the Y so much that I have motivated my family in Texas to join their local Y!” 

Vicki Johnson Vicki joined the YMCA almost 20 years ago simply looking for a place to be healthy and get some exercise. Back then, she had a set of twins so she needed time to decompress and enjoyed having structure and routine in her life with her crazy schedule. She fell in love with what the YMCA offered for her and her family. Not only did she gain the opportunity to get some exercise, but her children thoroughly enjoyed child watch and other youth programs. Years later, life blessed her with another set of twins who are currently enrolled in the YMCA’s after school and summer camp programs. They are always walking down the hallways with smiles all over their faces. “The counselors are great and help my girls become leaders as they help younger children with their homework,” said Vicki. Life quickly took a turn for Vicki and her children when her husband passed away a few years ago due to diabetes leading to a stroke. “That was certainly a wake-up call for me to stay fit, keep my children healthy and do whatever needed to be done to raise these girls. That became easier said than done now that I was handling all of life’s necessities on one salary. As a newly single parent, I wanted to continue all of the things that would help my family stay healthy and engaged, and I dreaded the thought of having to not keep the YMCA in our lives. My husband would not have wanted that for us. That is when the Y opened up their arms to us. They blessed us with their financial assistance program allowing my children to continue with their programs and our membership. The YMCA is our safe haven and a place I can trust. If it wasn’t for the YMCA, I don’t know where I would be today. After everything that happened in our lives, the after-school counselors would call and make sure we were okay. That meant so much to me. They are so in tune with the families here and they care about our well-being. The YMCA is our 2nd home and our biggest support system still today. They build a lifetime of care.

Kim Norris “I have been a member of the Y for about 12 years. I first became a member because I was looking for a place to come to work out and become more active after having my kids. After joining, I fell in love with the group exercise classes and haven’t stopped coming since! Coming the Y has become my place to relax after work each day. It is a nice transition between work and home and it gives me the opportunity to relax and not have to worry about anything else. I enjoy many of the group exercise classes but Step Interval is my absolute favorite. Haywood makes that class so much fun! Everyone in the class is so encouraging which motivates me to continue to work harder. The Y has been a great place for my family over the years. I love that it has provided a positive atmosphere for my kids, allowing them to get involved in many different activities. I also love that the Y is constantly improving and coming up with new ways to keep members engaged. I always recommend the YMCA to other people that I encounter because it has had such a positive impact on my life and I know it can provide a positive impact for others as well.

Lance Norris “I started coming to the Y when I was around 3 years old. I was involved in different activities until I turned five and started swimming. Ever since I started swimming at the Y, it has become a place I spend most of my time at. It is where I come when I am not at school. I love the atmosphere and I do not have to worry about anything else when I am here. I have met my closest friends here at the Y. One of the things that have contributed to the Y being such a huge portion of my life is the coaching I have experienced while swimming here. Coach Yvonne has been here since day one and she is amazing. I wouldn’t be who I am today without her! I have gained so much character since being apart of the swim team. Everyone at the Y is so encouraging and polite. I have even noticed at other swim meets, people are not like they are here. It really is a different world at the Y. I love going to Y nationals over any other swim competition because I know the people from the Y are so different. After swimming at the Y for so long, I cannot imagine my life without it. I love the Y so much that I sometimes get upset when it is closed. I always say my day is not right if I don’t feel chlorine! The YMCA has helped develop me into the person that I am today and I am so thankful for that.”

Stephen Bandy “I have been coming to the Y for three years now. I am on the swim team and the Y has become like my second home. I am also an Eagle Scout and since I am at the Y so much, I decided to do an Eagle Scout project here. This project is a two-part project involving re-mulching the front entrance of the Y and building a timing table for swim meets at the Y! I decided I wanted to help re-mulch the front entrance because I know the Y is a great place and I wanted to help make sure the outside looks the same way. Currently, I am working on fundraising ideas that will help with getting the materials I need to build the timing table. I am glad I chose to do my project at a place that means so much to me. While working on this project I have become more responsible and I have been able to develop more leadership skills by gathering my troop members and friends to help with this project. I am thankful for this experience at the Y and I am happy I am able to contribute to this organization and community! Through the Y I have been able to meet new people and Coach Yvonne Wilkins and Senior Program Director, Kaila Billups, have been very helpful along the way!”

Carl Koger suffered a stroke years ago which caused him to be in the hospital for several months. After leaving the hospital Carl needed a caretaker and ended up staying with his parents due to his limited motion and ability to walk. Carl’s mom Lynette started to work with Carl on regaining some of his skills but felt like he needed something else to keep him active. She heard good things about the Y in the past and decided she would give it a chance. With the help of Financial Assistance, Lynette and Carl were able to start coming to the Y, which Lynette says has been very helpful. “As you can imagine we spend a lot of money on medical bills so getting financial assistance helps us out a whole lot.” Since joining the Y, Carl has been able to get involved with different programs that Lynette says has helped him tremendously! “Coming to the Y has helped Carl open up and become more active. He has become so much more independent and motivated and when he can’t come to the Y he is disappointed! Carl now can show me how to exercise on some of the different equipment and he has even motivated his dad to start coming to the Y.” Being a part of the Y gives the whole Koger family a much-needed outlet. “I am able to get a little bit of time to relax, Carl is able to be social, and we are all able to stay active!” 

Bonnie Whitley is an avid Y member and her daughter is Carolyn Curry. They both shared their story with the YMCA about how beneficial the Y was and is to Bonnie’s health and their family as a whole. “I love water fitness,” said Bonnie. “I joined three years ago and when I first started, I couldn’t even get into the water without a buoyancy belt. I had been in the hospital for three months before I joined the Y and was in a wheelchair. I transitioned to rehab therapy and they suggested that I attend the Y and try out water classes. I really enjoy coming because of the atmosphere and it helps me mentally.” “She will not miss a Monday, Wednesday or Friday class,” said Carolyn, Bonnie’s daughter. “You won’t believe how much this has improved her overall health and mental state. She used to be so cranky at home and now she smiles all the time and is a whole different person!” Carolyn explained that Bonnie was diagnosed with Dementia ten years ago and her social skills were very little after that. She was also 49 pounds heavier than she is now. “Coming here inspired her to lose weight, become healthier, and more social. This is most definitely her happy place and an important part of her life. She would come every single day if she could!” said Carolyn. Bonnie said, “I show other water fitness participants what to do now!” Both of their faces were bright with joy for the Y and we couldn’t be happier to experience that joy alongside them.

Michelle Higgs “I joined the Y almost a year ago. I was looking for a gym to join and most others were not as family-friendly as I was wanted them to be. The Y is very family orientated and I feel safe having my kids here when I workout. Since joining the Y, I have become a lot more active and now have a healthier lifestyle. When I first became a member, I was on different medications and now I do not take any! I have also lost 18 pounds in the last 3 months. The staff here at the Y really takes the time to get to know their members. When my son had a leg injury and was in a cast for a while, Keith taught him how to play wheelchair basketball. You don’t find caring staff like that everywhere. My kids also learned how to swim here. My family used to travel out of town every weekend religiously to an indoor trampoline park or something fun for the boys to enjoy. Now my two boys ages 13 & 12, only want to come to the Y during their free time. We pack up for the day and spend all day at the Y. It is truly amazing and there is something for everyone. My husband has chronic back problems but he comes to the Y and is actively involved. The Y encourages you to move. Other members cheer you on. There is no particular shape, color, ethnicity, etc. at the Y. It’s a place for all people to come and enjoy others while getting healthy together! I get my strength from the Y; when I leave it’s like I’m a brand new person!” “I get my strength from the Y; when I leave it’s like I’m a brand new person!”

Harriet Buss “My Y story started over 30 years ago at the old Y Westridge branch. Back then, I was in the army and needed to pass a physical fitness test, so I decided to try out the Y. I found a love for the Y because it offered so much variety for a healthy lifestyle. In 2005, spin bikes were new and I was skeptical but decided to try a cycle class. I hated it at first and it was hard, but it felt so good afterward! I definitely would say it was a love, hate relationship. 2007 began my journey of traveling long distance on a road bike. I had a colleague who encouraged me to get one. I began to fall in love with riding. Then in 2017 was my very 1st time traveling across the country and I fell in love with that even more. I figure at age 69, if you are going to do something, you better start doing it! Once I retired from my career, my new goal had to be my health. In my retirement, I needed to keep some sort of structure, so the Y became that for me. Outside of my love for biking across the country, I enjoy using the Y for a variety of exercise classes, as they keep me motivated. I also never knew how to swim. My husband taught me at the Y when I was 66. I would tell anyone to never think you can’t learn to swim later in life. I am so glad that I did. The Y has so many options and gives people the opportunity to find their niche. It is multi-generational and multi-cultural. The Y is truly for all and truly a community. I have met so many people here that I would not have met if it wasn’t for the Y. You learn so many amazing stories. And “us old people” have to be socially active too! I also volunteer for the Y’s annual campaign because I believe in their mission “for all”. The Y is a great thing and all people need to be able to access it; especially children. The Y is an equalizer for opportunities and could be a lifeline for so many people. I am just happy that I can give back to the organization that has been a huge part of my life in so many ways.”

Allison Braswell “I started working at the YMCA when I was 16, teaching gymnastics and summer camp. I loved the interaction I had with the kids and watching them master different skills. It made me feel a sense of accomplishment and it helped give me the confidence boost that I needed! After I worked here for a while, I decided to reach out to the Membership Desk to see about a position. I was offered a position as a Membership Representative and started working at the front desk and in Childwatch. I loved being able to meet new people and interact with the children. I worked for two years until I moved away. Then, after being away for a couple of years I started to miss home. I decided to move back, and my fiancé and I started a family. I stayed home for the first seven months of my daughter’s life then I wanted to go back to work. It was a no-brainer that I was going to reapply at the Y! I reapplied and soon was able to start back working here. I never dread coming to work. At the Y, it is a positive, friendly atmosphere that I love coming to every day. I feel very valued and I know I’m not “just another employee”. I am thankful for all the Y does for their employees and community.”

Mac Lord “I have been involved with the Y for a long time and have seen first hand the impact the Y has on people, which is why I wanted to contribute to the Y in some way.” Mac chose to do his Eagle Scout project here at the Y by adding something new and fun to the playground for children. He decided it would be great to add a Gaga Pit for children to play on when they are outside. The game of Gaga relates to the Y’s cause to strengthen community. It allows anyone to play at any skill level and the games are very short giving everyone a chance to play. He thought that building a Gaga Pit would allow all children at the Y the opportunity to feel included. “That is how I feel about the Y, having swum here for nine years, working here, and being apart of the Togetherhood Committee; I am able to see that the Y is very inclusive and it provides an opportunity for everyone.” After raising money for four months and building the Gaga Pit over the course of a month, Mac is happy that he is able to see the impact this project has made on the children. “I love being able to walk by and see different children playing together on the pit.”

Lynne  Jaffe has been a member of the Y for several years, with the original goal of coming with her family to work out. For a while, Lynne would come to the Y with her family and walk around the track while her family used the exercise equipment. She recently decided to be more productive and improve her health and fitness goals. Deciding to try out several group classes, Lynne found that the morning Yoga class and the Low Impact Cardio Fusion class were great classes for her. She says she really enjoys both classes and the instructors make them even better. “I enjoy the Yoga class as Kathleen Loucks guides you through the moves and provides alternative ways of doing the exercises for those who need it and she makes the class very fun. Sharon Simons makes the Low Impact Cardio Fusion class very fun by changing things from class to class to prevent boredom!” Lynne loves both classes, but what she enjoys most is being able to have fun with other members and the welcoming feeling the Y has. “In neither class does anyone care what you look like or how fit or unfit you are, it is very non-judgemental. The welcoming feeling from these classes keeps me motivated to come to class and the motivation even continues to my job and other areas of my life! I only wish I would have started attending these classes sooner!”

Sherron Patterson has been a member of the Y for around three years. She originally joined the Y because she was looking for a place where she could exercise and know that her children were in a safe place. The Y offers so much for her children to do while she works towards her health goals. “When my oldest daughter is in gymnastics and I am working out, my youngest is able to go to child watch.” After joining, Sherron started to participate in various exercise classes, which made exercising easier for her. “Once I became a member, I started participating in things like Zumba and spin class which were great!” She says the Y has been there for her when she needed help. “I became a single mother of two girls and I wanted them to be able to participate in different sports. I applied for financial assistance and was approved, which helped me get my oldest daughter in gymnastics, afterschool, and summer camp while I was at work. Receiving financial assistance helps to alleviate some of the stress and financial burdens that I would otherwise face without it.” The Y has become a place that Sherron’s family truly enjoys coming to. “I think at the Y, the people listen to what members and community members are interested in and they try to make it available. The staff is amazing; everyone here is nice and is willing to help out those who need it which is what keeps us coming back!”

Quantica Hines has been a member of the Y for last two years. Since joining, the Y has made a tremendous impact in her and her son’s lives. She has gained a sense of working as a team with other members and being a part of something bigger than herself. She says “I learned how to swim at the Y and about nature, which I believe positively affected my development.” Quantica says she is thankful for what this organization represents. “I am very grateful for everything and everyone behind the scenes at the Y who make it all possible.” During the time that Quantica has been a member of the Y, she has been able to reach many goals that she set for herself including quitting smoking, pushing herself to be better every day, having a more positive attitude, and obtaining a better job. “There is no way to ever pay back what the YMCA has done for me and my son in these trying times."  

Daphne Trevathan has been a member of the Harrison Family YMCA for 5 years with the original goal of wanting to have more options for a healthier lifestyle. Since joining the Y, Daphne says she feels a sense of community whenever she comes. “I can always be social when I come here and I can always find people that I know!” She loves coming to the Y and is grateful for the financial assistance she receives. “With my current situation, having help financially allows me the ability to pay my student loans, as well as stay healthy and engaged in the community, without being stressed.” Daphne is a part of the Togetherhood® Volunteer Program, which she says has helped her become more of aware of the Y’s cause. “It opened my eyes to the initiatives the Y is trying to meet and how much this organization impacts people in the community. My favorite part about being involved in Togetherhood® is being able to see ideas turn to fruition, such as projects like Babies and Blankets.” Along with having opportunities to be involved in the community, Daphne says “The atmosphere is what keeps me here. I have built stronger relationships with people through Togetherhood®!”

Bill Craig“November of 2015, I had a stroke, which left me totally paralyzed on the left side. I ended up going to rehab and had to use a wheelchair. I finally got to the point where I could use a walker. This was right around the time that our Y was launching the post-rehab program. This was a no-brainer for me. It was the perfect time. So, I made that decision and was the very first client of this brand new program. I worked with Sharon Simons, and she started me out lightly. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but with progression, I got to the point where I was walking with just a cane. Post-rehab is not like regular therapy. It is individualized to you and your own situations. I love to credit Sharon for the work she has done. She is quick to identify limitations and mental capabilities and will communicate with your doctor when needed. This program most definitely changed my life and it is not a threat to physical therapy. It is simply a next step and progression. One can’t be overly optimistic, but this program will get you back to 95%! I will continue to go out and share my testimony with others because I want others’ lives to be changed as mine was.”

Catherine Ziencik- "Prior to my son being born, I exercised regularly. Exercising was "my time" to decompress after a long day at work. Exercising always makes me feel better about myself. Toward the middle of my pregnancy, walking around my block was the only exercise I was getting. After my son was born, I focused all of my attention on his needs. As a new mom, I wasn't focused on myself or ensuring I had any "me time". When my son was 9 months old, I felt I had a better grasp on motherhood and began looking for an exercise center that offered a reputable and reasonably priced childcare. I wanted to start exercising again and lose my baby weight while feeling comfortable with leaving my son with trustworthy and caring staff. I called, priced, and visited multiple facilities, and the YMCA was the only exercise facility that met all of my standards. Upon my first visit to the YMCA, I saw the childcare teacher that I was practically raised by when I was a child! That made me feel right at home. My son, Uriah, loves child watch and does not even cry when I leave. This gives me the peace of mind that I need. As a new mother and working professional, I am thankful to be a member of the YMCA where my physical health and the well-being of my child comes first."

Stephanie Pridgen- "As a missionary, I would have to say that I am pretty good at taking care of others, but sometimes not so good at taking care of myself. I was living overseas in Ukraine a few years ago and unfortunately, my health is what brought me home. I was unhealthy and also had a herniated disk in my neck, which caused unimaginable pain. Once I made it back home to Rocky Mount, I told myself that things had to change. I became a part of a small gym in Wilson that had a great family feel but ended up closing. I joined the Y and truly found my second family again. I look around and love the vision and heart around the Y. It has a focus on community and the family feel that I want and need to keep me motivated. I have also enjoyed the swim lessons and the classes. Not only are you becoming healthy and learning important life skills, you are meeting new people and socializing as well. My main goal is to be healthy and strong enough to return to the field, which I am now and the Y has been a huge part of getting me to that point. I am working on returning to live and serve in Ukraine and have just recently become a certified Revelation Wellness Instructor. This will allow me to lead others in fitness classes when I return overseas. I love having the Y as a place to work out, be happy, meet people, and be encouraged by all of the smiles. It is home."

Janelle Sharpe is an amazing volunteer for us here at the Y. Janelle went to the Y in our afterschool program as a child, “which was a longgg time ago, she tells us.” She is 25 years old and graduated high school from Rocky Mount Preparatory School and graduated college from Nash Community College. She now loves to design fashion and is also volunteering in our Afterschool and Summer Camp programs. “I have been coming to the Y since I was a kid and love working with other kids, especially the older ones. I help them with homework and love to play with them. The Y is different than other places to me. My whole family loves the Y.” Janelle also told us that she made tons of new friends this Summer, as she helped our Camp Counselors. Janelle loves to attend our Adaptive Swimming Championships and Special Needs Easter Egg Hunts, because, “they are fun!” We are so happy to have Janelle as someone who has benefited from our youth programming and grown into an amazing adult, back in the Y to serve as a volunteer. Thanks, Janelle!


Susan Clegg- "I competed the Y's very 1st Color Run and was thrilled by how their Wellness Coordinator was there the whole time cheering us along the way! My story dates back to 1977 when I was diagnosed with cancer. I have also lost everyone in my family to cancer and have been lucky to make it to 60. I worked hard throughout those years to be healthy and thankfully became cancer free in 1991. In1994 I decided to participate in a Walk/Run in Boston, to raise money for the Dana Farber cancer institute, in honor of my Dad. It was my parent's wedding anniversary, and the event lasted for seven and a half hours! That is when I found my love for walking and running. When I first moved to the area, I had gotten away from exercise and put weight on, just due to the busyness of life and not being able to find time for exercise. So, I started going to another gym, which was nice, but then they closed. I finally found the YMCA and ended up losing 30 lbs and 17 inches! I have an arthritic left knee and bone spurs, so the Doctor told me that I shouldn't run because it will ruin my knee, but that I could continue my walking, staying cautious of my knee and overall health. Losing the 30 lbs has now taken weight off of my knee and my Doctor actually congratulates me! The Y is the perfect place because everyone is always friendly and welcoming, which gives you a great atmosphere to stay motivated. The staff also recognize when others leave or when you don't see them for a while. They take the time to make sure you are doing okay. The Y is a place where you will see young and old, people walking and people on walkers, kids playing, a variety of different types of people, as well as staff smiling. It is an atmosphere that makes you want to keep coming."

Larry Dickens- A part of the YMCA’s Cause is to strengthen our community, by helping to further those in need. That is what Mr. Dickens also reiterated about our YMCA. “I can’t say enough about the Y. I could almost cry like a baby when I talk about what it has done for my son, and my family. You all are a life-saver.” Mr. Dickens has four children, two daughters and two sons, one of which is diagnosed with autism and ADHD. “I have struggled with my own heart health problems, and added stress can only make it worse. Sometimes the exertion I am required to take with my son, can lead to that extra stress, which in turn may affect my health. I prayed for a while for some sort of help in finding a place for my son that could also give me the break I need for my health. After praying for a while, I finally found out about the Y and it’s Summer Camp Program. The Y offered me assistance in placing my son in camp, and I was so thankful. The camp program allowed him to thrive. He was able to be with other peers and participate in activities that he normally would not be able to. He loves the swimming pool, and field trips were the most important thing to him. I want to make sure I am giving back to the Y, because of how much they gave to me.”

Doug Slater- "I have been swimming and coming to the YMCA since I was about 8 years old. I first joined the Y swim team at 10. Every year we would sell thin mints to raise money for something, I am not even sure what. But we sold tons of them. Except for a break for university and med school/training, I have been a member most of my life. I am second longest member in our family to my dad, who has been a Y member for 79 years and still swims every day at Kerr Y in Raleigh at the age of 89. I still swim with him some Saturday mornings. In all those years, I have never heard a YMCA staff member make a negative comment about anything. I most love the positive attitude of the staff and members- this is the main thing that keeps me coming; such a great rinse cycle in my busy days. I swim at a lof of Y's in NC, but the Harrison Family YMCA is the best I have used, and I am grateful that our Y is such a good facility with such good people. Thank You."

Dylan Johnson- “Monday, May 8th made 1 year for me on my journey of health. Last year on this day, I woke up, and I cried. I’ve always been active, but still have dealt with weight issues my whole life. I realized on this day that I needed to set an example and become the person I knew I could and wanted to be. I have been coming to the Y since I was a little kid; since it was downtown if that tells you anything! So, the Y has always been a second home to me. I knew that was a place where I could work towards being healthy in a motivating and welcoming atmosphere. The first 4 months, I lost 10lbs! There were days I wanted to give up, but I pushed myself. I give credit to Haley, Glenda, Alexis, Jaclyn, Rachel and Stephanie for always making my day! If I have had a bad day, they always make me smile and feel like a part of this organization. They have helped with my journey. I want to encourage anyone no matter what age or struggle to keep going and stick with it! I am now down 82lbs since that morning on May 8th, 2016. Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way, and to the Y for being the family-oriented, safe, and secure place for me.”

Brenda's Story- Brenda Yde hasn’t always had the easiest of lives. She was awarded the guardian of her three grandchildren, Thomas, Sierra, and Alex due to the deprivation and uncertainty that they were experiencing the early part of their lives. She is raising them with the help of her husband, who is 83, disabled and unable to work. Brenda also lost her job due to breast cancer a couple years ago. As anyone can imagine, these circumstances can make life tough. Her situations have made it a struggle to stay healthy and provide the best care possible for her grandchildren. But Brenda doesn’t give up. She found the Y and explained her situation to them. Thomas and Sierra were already enrolled in previous Summer camps and after school care with the Y. The Department of Social Services was funding their access until Brenda was awarded guardianship. Due to the financial burdens and situations in their lives, the Y was able to offer financial assistance for both grandchildren to continue attending after school care, thanks to funds raised by the Y’s Annual Campaign. Thankfully, she along with her husband, were both eligible for the Silver Sneakers program through insurance benefits and were able to use the Y for membership to become healthier for themselves and their family. Brenda credits and thanks the Y every day for helping her have the strength to get her health back on track and providing an outlet for every day socialization. She says that she only made it through her medical issues with the assistance and support of the Y. “Sierra and Thomas have both flourished at the Y because of the caring, nurturing and exceptional staff. It is a safe place for them after school, providing not only transportation to the Y, but swimming, homework time, crafts and programs that are helping them develop into productive and cared for children. We love them and provide for them at home, but the Y loves them and provides for them through their programs and staff. I am so grateful that the Y was there for them and my family during this difficult time. Knowing they were at the Y gave me the peace of mind to get through this. I could not have made it without that," says Brenda.

Leslie & Emmanuel Perkins- "The Y made a change for me. My son and I fell in love with the the Y's Holiday Camp last December. After losing my mom last February, I didn't have anyone to watch him for me while school was out for Christmas and while I worked. I signed him up and Ms. Vanessa ensured me that he would be fine and he definitely was! We both enjoyed it so much that we came back for Summer Camp 2014. It is a joy to know that your child is in good hands with such caring staff. Thanks for all you all do, you are appreciated."

Allen Dickens-"Because of my exercise and education at the Y, I learned to notice when something was not going right with my body. I began noticing problems last December and to make a long story short, ended up having to go through surgery for an aortic valve replacement.  This became very serious and I found a lot of support through people here at the Y. During my surgery, I missed the Y so much, more than anything else because losing weight, becoming a healthier person and getting involved with the community of people here is my life and what really makes me happy. I survived this because I worked out and noticed abnormal symptoms with my body and knew I had to do something. I can't say enough about how different and grateful I feel from this life-changing experience and the support of the Y."

Lesta Martin-“In 2004, my husband and I moved to the Rocky Mount area to be closer to our family. Through the years, I had not been paying much attention to my diet, I was a HUGE meat eater and I began gaining weight. Well, I found the Y and started getting into water aerobics! I met many new friends and the socialization kept me motivated! The group of friends I have met in water aerobics meet together for lunch once a week, which is an amazing benefit of the Y- you will always meet new friends. To me, the social is just as important as the physical aspects of your health. I began losing weight at that time but was then hit with devastating news- I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My heart dropped, but I prayed on it. I decided I did not want to go through chemotherapy and I wanted to do it the natural way. So, I went to a plant based diet and excercised at least 5 times a week. I would use the treadmill, Silver Sneakers classes and line dancing classes. Because of this, I fought my cancer and the doctors were astonished! I have also always been on blood pressure medication with 3 medications. I have lost 30 lbs in all and am now down to only 1 medication! I appreciate the Y, the instructors and friends I have met here for helping me push through that time in my life and help me become healthier.”

Ann Sykes“I moved to Rocky Mount from New Jersey 10 years ago to be closer to my father. I worked at a law firm and began working out at another gym, but needed something more. At the time, I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and was diagnosed as prediabetic. I was on so much medication, which was just making things worse. The staff at the Y and the friends I have made here helped me to become healthier. I changed my diet and started exercising more. Staff told me to work on my upper body because I had issues with my legs. Through the increased exercise and social interactions, my cholesterol went from 235 to 187 in a year! I am a people person and believe that we can all learn from each other. I encourage members to come with their families, check on friends when they don’t show up for a couple days, and help each other move in life. I have had a great life with a great career, so moving people is my next goal in life. That is why I want my story shared.”

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