SHARE YOUR STORY
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
EACH PERSON WHO SHARES THEIR STORY WILL WIN A "MY STORY MAKES AN IMPACT" T-SHIRT!
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 workout 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 with 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.”
Read More Stories of Impact
Bonnie Scoggins- "I love the Y. We are so fortunate to have a Y in our community and I sing the Y's praises all the time. I am a swimmer and enjoy the pool and swim meets with my grandchildren. I am also thankful for the Harrison's contribution to help make it all happen!"
Felisa Bullock- Felisa moved to the area 10 years ago. One day as she was walking up a flight of stairs, she noticed she was out of breath and knew she had to make a change. She had heard of the Y and decided to join. She started taking aerobics classes. Now she has a running partner and runs several mornings a week. She loved it so much, she has completed two half marathons! Now working out is a lifestyle for her. She has made great friends here and shares her successes with other people in hopes in inspire them!
Mary Mutzabaugh- "When I first joined the Harrison Family YMCA 2 years ago, I had trouble getting up and down and walking up and down the stairs. Now, I can all of these things with ease and it is truly a blessing. When I first started at the Y, I had never worked on any cardio or weight machines. I began with two SilverSneakers classes a week and I now attend four classes a week. I feel SO much better and my blood pressure and cholesterol is under control. I feel much better every day. This has been a great thing for me and I hope to continue coming each week. Thank you to all of the trainers and instructors at the Y."
Jim Pendergrass – “A trip to the “Y” and workshop in Silver Sneakers gets the joints and muscles warmed up and feeling better. Our instructor, Sharon, puts us through a variety of warmups, side steps, weights, and ball handling which keeps us on our toes. When Sharon puts us in a routine and changes it quickly, we all look like we are going to a fire drill. She can’t watch us in the mirror without cracking up. We feel great at the end of the workout thanks to our excellent leader.”
Fran Kizziah- "I am truly honored to be a loyal member winner. My daughter Dixie, loves the Y. She is active in after school care, Gymnastics and a Rock Wall regular. Thank you to Eason and Clay for all your help with Rock climbing and to Robert White for the time he has taken with her in Gymnastics as well as the other teachers. The after school care team is phenomenal. I could not ask for a better place for her to be. I also have a 17 yr old that swims as well and the Y was always a great inspiration for her as well. Thanks to everyone for making this our "second home", as we spend a great deal of time there."
Shirley Jeans- "In September of 2014, I was not doing very well. I had a stroke, which also caused carpel tunnel in one of my hands and my kidney functioning was extremely low. I also have hypothyroidism and had to have surgery to remove the thyroid. I was struggling and had a very hard time bouncing back after all of the health problems. I had multiple stress tests and therapy but none of it seemed to be working as well as I had hoped. One day, I finally made my way back to the Y after going through all of this and realized I had forgotten my cane! I thought, “well, I will just keep going and see what I can do without the cane!” I was amazingly surpised that I still made it to the pool, which is my favorite place to go at the Y. I then went on to one of the Silver Sneakers classes upstairs, still without my cane! The Y and the staff there helping me, gave me and are still giving me an outlet to slowly get my health back. It is a process, but something I am constantly working on. I now attend the Y 5 days a week. This summer, I went with my granddaughter to eat shrimp; something she loves to do, and realized that my hand was able to move a little more. This was so exciting for me, as I love spending time and doing things with her. The Y has been a miracle for me. As a former breast cancer survivor as well, I have been through a lot in my life. The Y has made a tremendous impact."
Rosa A. Brodie- My Story: The Impact of the YMCA of Rocky Mount- "In 1999 with the assessment of Dr. J. E. Bryant, for my back pain, I was sent to Dr. Greg Nelson, an orthopedist at Nash Health Care Systems. I was 64 years old at the time. Dr. Nelson diagnosed hip replacements and said that would get rid of the pain I was experiencing. I readily agreed. The left leg healed and I went to Jerusalem, served my first communion as a Deacon at the site of Jesus' grave, and in the following days of the trip, I began to have right leg problems from so much walking. I said, Lord, please let me get back to Rocky Mount and I will try and take care of this pain with your help. Arriving back in Rocky Mount I went immediately to Dr. Nelson's office. He smiled of course and the right leg was fixed. No pain since, I also wear high heels and am now 80 years old. After my second recovery , I was lying in bed one morning and I happened to put my hand under the calf of my leg. Would you believe it had no more muscle than would fit into the palm of my hand. WEllllll. a friend of mine , also a Y member, Carrie Davis started going to the Y when it was at the back of Nash Health Care Systems. My calves are now quite respective and the muscles in my legs and thighs are taunt enough to protect my implants, which Dr. Nelson says is good and to keep up the good work. As stated, I' M 80 YEARS OLD and because of the facility, instructors, machines and daily attendance (M-F) 5am or 6am, I have not had any more aches or pains from arthritis. The surgery came first but the exercises have maintained my degree of wellness.This year, my insurance (Humana) with Silver Sneakers, helps an old lady out. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND EXERCISE AND THE YMCA CAN HELP ACHIEVE IT."
Kevin Boudreau- One Y Story: A Great Place to Make Friends for Life- "20 years ago, I met my best friend for life at the Y. I, a stranger, asked another stranger if he wanted to run outside, instead of on a treadmill... Well, of course, bad enough to run with a stranger, I guess. Anyways, 20 years later we are still running (a bit slower now- haha), together. This led to a relationship with other lunchtime runners, calling ourselves the 'nooners'. 17 years ago this December, the Annual Rib Run began. This event started at the old Westridge Branch and grew when the 'nooners' joined the brand new Harrison Family YMCA, where it is today! Annually, a group of 15-20 runners, jingle bells & all, run 3+ miles together and then eat ribs and exchange 'special awards' for events that happened throughout the year. Thanks YMCA for a great place to meet lifelong friends."
Grace McArthur- "Being a member on the Y has been an incentive to stay fit in all aspects of life. The staff and members are friendly. I am enjoying being a part of it."
Bessie Richardson- "The Harrison Family YMCA has changed me from a non-exerciser, to walking and working out, meeting new friends, uniting with people that I have known and encouraging others to join. Thank You Harrison Family YMCA and Staff!"
Michelle Nixon- "Since enrolling and working out at the Y, I have decreased my A1C level from 12 to 8, and I am still working hard!"
Sherron Patterson- "Every since I joined the Harrison Family YMCA, I have become a healthier mom for my kids. My 1 year old enjoys the child watch, while I work out. My oldest daughter is excelling in gymnastics and has a blast at Family Zumba. It is such a wonderful atmosphere and great opportunity for my single parent household."
Marion Stoga- "Just before I received the gift of forced retirement, I realized I was 50 lbs. over weight. So, now that I have really nothing to do, I’ll start my diet. One, two, three years passed nothing changed. Then that 4th year, a friend retired and she joined the Y. I joined reluctantly but I wanted to support her because she had osteopenia and she really needed to join the Y. We decided to start with silver sneakers and see how things went. A couple of months later at a doctor’s appointment, I came home with the results of blood pressure 194/94 and still 50 lbs. overweight. The doctor’s advice was medication for the blood pressure and get more exercise. She also told me to reduce my calorie intake. Oh, and if my blood pressure numbers would have been one number higher, top or bottom, she would have had to put me in the hospital. With that, I upped my activity level at the Y to 3 days a week, doing functional fitness, worked at taking 8 to 10 thousand steps a day and reduced my calorie intake. I felt much better after a couple of months but the weight didn’t change too much. So, back to the doctor, where it was determined that my thyroid was not functional and medication was in order. This visit was during the time when the Y was hosting meetings for beating type II diabetes. Oh, I quit all alcohol in the process as well. With all this in place and meeting friends at the Y, I have lost almost 40 pounds and my blood pressure is 122/72. I come to the Y 3 to 4 days a week and take part in 60 minutes a day of non-stop activity (thanks to the instructors). I have developed several new friends while taking these classes, along with bringing a friend to be a member. (As a senior that is not an easy task). We spend time after these classes sharing coffee, encouraging each other, planning lunch and taking care of world issues. I have lived in Rocky Mount for 7 years and I have been a member of the Y for a year and a half. In life our priorities change but the Y's do not …..it is there to assist in building strong, healthy, kids, adults, and communities."
Lisa Connie- "After the birth of my 2nd daughter, I found myself very depressed and unhappy with my size/weight. My husband suggested that we join the Y since it has childwatch, which is something we NEED in order to work out. I have lost 34 pounds and my husband has lost 45 pounds since joining here! I must also praise the childwatch staff...They are excellent, which in turn offers me the peace of mind that my children are being tended to by very loving and nurturing people. That makes working out that much easier!"
James "Patrick" Bell- "I started coming to the YMCA primarily for swimming, which eventually evolved into more running. Going to the Y on a daily basis helps to keep me in shape and healthy."
Amelia A. Rumph- "The Y has helped me out a lot physically and mentally. The employees are excellent and I thank God that the Y is based on a spiritual atmosphere. God bless you all!"
Roslyn Gragg- "The Y is truly a Godsend for our family. My husband's illness in 1999 left him needing daily exercise and social contact in place of his work schedule. The Y and the Y people became his daily routine and contacts. The doctors at rehab consider him a miracle - the Y deserves much of the credit for keeping him going. Thank you Y family!"
Leona Pridgen- "I have dreamed of being a member of the Y for a long time, but never thought I could afford it. However, when my health insurance went through a transition, I found that a Silver Sneakers membership was included with my plan. I was delighted! I love the walking track and am learning to love the machines as well. Everyone is so welcoming and friendly here. I am doing my best to come regularly so that I can show my appreciation for this wonderful gift and opportunity to train. There is a 1/2 marathon in my future and the Y is helping to get me there!"
Mary Ward- "I have been a member of the Y for 20 years. It has made a difference in my overall health and well-being. The Y is open to your suggestions and is the only place that is family oriented from children to grand parents."
Charmaine Tabron- "I have been a member since 2009...Off and on coming back from college at UNC-Charlotte, I would come back to the Y. I love the Zumba and Jammin' Cardio classes with Chrisie. She is the best instructor! So far I have lost 30 lbs. and still going strong!"
Sudine Alston- "The camp is the BEST that my 4 & 12 year old have been to! We love it! The staff is so very knowledgeable and go out of their jurisdiction to help us feel like we truly matter. Thank you for all that you do. I REALLY APPRECIATE IT!"
Anonymous Guest- “I am a frequent visitor to Rocky Mount with full intentions of moving here from the MD/DC area. While staying in the Affordable Suites Motel on vacation, I walked down to the YMCA to see what it was all about. I ran into a staff member named Joel, who rolled out the red carpet for me. He treated me like royalty and made me feel that Rocky Mount is just a little below heaven. He schooled me on the YMCA and gave me a tour. He made me want to join and I will do just that when I move to Rocky Mount. Joel represents the YMCA and Rocky Mount very well. His customer service is exceptional. He makes you feel comfortable which is just what an out-of-towner needs. I hope the YMCA appreciates him as much as I.”
Brandon Berry- "I started coming to the Y 6 years ago when I was 30 years old. I was in the worst shape of my life. Today, I am in the best shape of my life and even feel better than I did at age 18!"
Alana Wilder- "The water aerobics classes in the morning are wonderful. With 3 different teachers all having their own styles, it keeps their techniques unique! I chose the Y for a great workout but soon discovered another aspect of equal importance. To wake up every morning knowing that I was going to a place that was so welcoming and pleasant was a great start to my day. To be greeted by friendly staff is very important to me. Carolyn, Roslyn and Ashley have changed my life in ways they will never know. The workout I get with these ladies is tough, but they make it fun, so it doesn't seem like work. I applaud all three of these great ladies!"
Jessica Enriquez- "I started coming to the YMCA on April 20, 2013. It was Family Day and was open to the community so I brought my family and purchased our membership. When I first started, I weighed 275lbs and could barely walk a mile. So, I started slow on the treadmill. I started at 30 minutes and slowly over time progressed to 45 then 60 minutes. I also noticed that my speed increased from 2 up to 4.5. When I tried the elliptical and the bike, my workouts went from 30 minutes to 2 hours. When I started to attend classes I found that I had more fun interacting with a group. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE YMCA and I’d be lost without it. Since joining the Y I’ve went from a size 20 to a size 16, went from 275lbs to 230lbs, and I’ve gotten a major boost of confidence and I have a lot more love for myself. I’ve never been this active in my life and I can honestly say that the YMCA is the main reason that I am more active than ever. THANK YOU!!"
Sarah Narron- "My husband and I joined the YMCA in January of 2012 in an effort to lose weight and become healthier. I had no health issues other than some problems with knee pain, which was derived from being heavy most of my life. A friend and I started with water aerobics because of my knee pain and gradually increased our activity level from there. I started taking the 5:30 interval classes in spring of 2012. These classes were highly motivational and challenging. There were times when I felt like giving up BUT I couldn’t fathom the thought of anyone seeing me fail at this. I channeled those feelings and used them to keep pressing forward. In 6 months, my husband had lost 70 lbs! Unfortunately, it took me a little longer… In December of 2012 I had FINALLY lost 70 lbs. We did this just by watching our diet and exercising at the Y. I continued on taking the afternoon classes at the YMCA into 2013. I lost another 35 lbs by July of 2013 topping my weight loss at 105 lbs in a year and a half! I am now smaller than I ever. I attribute my weight loss to the support of my family, friends and especially the YMCA staff members. Over the past two years I have gained a family of YMCA staff & members that I truly consider a part of my family and look forward to seeing them in class each day. My entire family enjoys all that the YMCA has to offer from the pool to the indoor track, racquetball and my kids especially love the rock climbing wall which they want to do every time we are at the Y. The daycare staff is amazing and my kids look forward to our daily visits. I am still going strong in 2014 maintaining the weight loss and attending classes as normal in an effort to keep healthy. The one question I am constantly asked is whether I had weight loss surgery to lose weight so quickly. I can say as a matter of fact NO… no surgery for me… This was all good ole’ fashion diet & exercise thanks to joining the YMCA!"
Kylar Whitley- “I started attending the Harrison Family YMCA in September of 2013 and have been so happy with my conversion from my previous gym. I enjoy the weight machines more than cardio and most gyms are filled with mostly cardio. Also, I have two kids and NEED the child watch for me to get my work out in when I want. The staff are great with my kids, which makes my work outs way more peaceful! I also like to walk on the walking track around the facility and enjoy the Insanity Class on Tuesdays. The classes give you that cardio you want in a more engaging and fun way. I started at the Y because I knew my friend became much healthier after beginning her membership here and I realized I needed that as well. The welcoming atmosphere, great open facility and caring staff members keep me coming!”
Dana Stone- “I started coming to the Harrison Family YMCA in early 2012 and was walking with a cane due to knee arthritis. As I started 3 times a week with the arthritis class, I gradually added deep water aerobics classes to my schedule and the wellness machines. After a while, I started to notice a marked improvement. Regular vigorous exercise is extremely important and beneficial for individuals with arthritis. I want to say Kudos to the Y and the staff here for having a fantastic facility, along with quality programs and instructors! They have helped me avoid knee replacement surgery for 2 years”.
Greg Brown- "I was a Rocky Mount Police Officer that was shot in the line of duty in September of 2005. After the shooting I had to retire early on medical disability, from the injuries I sustained in the shooting. The next several years were very hard on me and my family, because I was left with a disability that really hindered my way life. It not only involved me but my wife and children as well. I gained a lot weight due to the medication I was taking for the pain and nerve injuries. It was also a trying time mentally. I was not able to get out and run and do the things I did before, such as playing softball and basketball. Then one day I walked by the mirror and took a long hard look at myself and I didn't even recognize the person looking back at me. At that very moment, I decided it was time for a change! I threw away all of my medication and joined the YMCA three years ago, which was one of the best decisions I could have made! I started off very slow by using the pool everyday, and then it took well over two years to get the strength back in my upper and lower body with weight training but I have lost over 40 lbs, since becoming a member. As painful as it may be sometimes, I try to come everyday during the week because I do not feel right if I miss my exercise for the day. My leg is still not right but I keep going, so hopefully it will show others, even with a disability you may not be able to everything, but you can do something. I would just like to thank everyone at the Harrison Family YMCA for making it possible to be where I am today. Embrace the pain, because it only makes you stronger!"
Ricky Gary- "I have come a long way... thanks to the Y. They gave me the tools I needed to start this journey. A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with kidney disease, lung disease, congestive heart failure and many other problems, which caused me to gain weight. I put on about 200 pounds and was not doing very well at all. I looked for help and found the Y. They got me a trainer and I was able to do all of this through their scholarship program. Without that, I would not have been able to do what I have. I started slowly and progressively worked my way up with the push from my trainer. She was great, very personable. That is what I love about the Y... they really care about you and your well-being. I have lost 130 pounds so far and will continue to work as hard as I can. This picture is of my gym pants when I was at my highest weight. I feel like I have come so far in this journey... I am very excited!"
Julie Williams- “I was a member at the old Y location by the hospital after I had my first child 10 years ago. I quit my membership, but rejoined in 2007 at the new location. I usually go to the 5 am classes and occasionally on Saturday. I have met a really good group of people in the morning and we keep each other accountable for getting our workouts in. My kids use the after school care on Fridays and have taken swim and gymnastics lessons over the years. The Y is a family activity that will always be a part of our lives.”
Rhonda Stroud- “I have been a member for about 4 years, here at the Y. I think we have a really awesome group of staff members and I absolutely love all of the classes offered here! I attend water fitness classes, Zumba, Dance Fusion, Yoga, Body Sculpt, Functional Fitness and I also workout on the new wellness equipment. I have to say that I have made many new friends from coming here.”
Herbert Tillman- “When I first joined the YMCA, I was working at Abbott Labs and was called in for a random health check-up. The company nurse told me that I could not go back to work because my blood pressure was so high they thought I may have a heart attack. So, I went to the doctor to find my blood pressure was extremely high, off the charts, and was borderline diabetic; Not to mention, I was 35 pounds overweight. The doctor gave me medicine and said that I needed some aerobics and fitness in my life. I did not even know what aerobics was but saw it in the Newspaper at the Y and decided I would try it out. I started attending classes here at the Y and before I knew it, I had lost that 35 pounds, was taken off my meds and was having a blast! So much fun I was asked to train and be certified for an Aerobics Instructor. I continue to enjoy working out and being a part of the Y.”
Bill Parker- “In my 3 or 4 years here at the Y, I have enjoyed every bit of it. I am here consistently and like to come early in the morning. I have lost about 45 pounds so far and want to continue to better myself. I’m telling you, it is like a whole other family here. Everyone really cares about you and if someone doesn’t show up to class one day, we all like to make sure they are okay.”
Emily Watson- “Having not grown up in Rocky Mount, the YMCA was one of the first placed I "joined" when I moved to the area several years ago. I remember being a member for several months and I randomly decided to take one of the 5am classes - I figured I was there, so why not. Well, several years later and I am still attending the 5am classes Monday through Friday. I've met some amazing people and have made friends who I refer to as the "5am Crazies." People think I'm literally crazy for getting up as early as I do, but the way I see it, the 5am class sets the tone for the day. I start healthy and continue to make healthy choices as the day goes on. Healthy is a lifestyle.”
Tiffany Alexander- "I have really enjoyed my membership with the Y. I love the aerobics classes and the perky staff, very early in the morning, makes my experience even better! The classes especially the spin classes are very excited and get me going for sure!"
Larry Silver- "I really enjoy the Y because it has something for literally, everyone. It is always clean with professional staff that always have a smile on their face. They are very personable and friendly.....Nothing compares to the Y.... It is the best place to go!"
Eric Boone- "As a parent, I have utilized the summer program and afterschool program for my son for several years. Moving from another area, it was important to find a good afterschool and summer program. I think both have taught him skills and allowed me to feel confident that he was being cared for and supervised well. Y Staff have always been great! My son has attended at least two different afterschool sites for the past several years and the summer sports camp program for the last four years. The Harrison Family YMCA has been helpful in giving him the development he needs in sports, especially basketball."
Stephanie Hilton- "When I first joined the Y, I never thought that I would be a member for so long. It was just a way for me to get out of the house and get a little exercise. I began with the intention of keeping it simple - a little exercise a few days per week. Gradually, I began exploring the various classes and personal training options. Regardless of my proficiency level, I found that the instructors and participants were supportive and positive. One day led to the next and I find that, now, that I am hooked!"
Carol Barker- "I actually go way back with the Y... further than you think! I went to the Y's Summer Day Camp when it was downtown and really enjoyed it as a kid. I even remember making some pot holders! I worked at the Y in college teaching swimming lessons and lifeguarding and then was on the board for 16 years. I am a Y-Fanatic and have always enjoyed coming here. It has always been a great influence on me."
David, Thelma, Aranza and Alyssa (The Sanchez Family)- "We'd like to thank the Harrison Family YMCA for a splendid summer! Sometimes the daily grind clouds or visions from the small details that make life special and let them go unnoticed. Let us tell you your family will hold a special place in our hearts. We'd like to thank the guy that sped up his pace when I was holding the door for people to come in and simply said "go ahead sir, you are with your family", the father and son that invited me into their discussion about family and respect, The group class peers that welcomed Thelma with a warm smile and talked with her like old friends, The kids that played at the pool and camp with our children. In our trekking life we've been members of a few Y's and other gyms in different towns, the Harrison Family YMCA is hands down the best staffed, so thanks again to the friendly and helpful faces of the front desk, Chrisie's fun jamin cardio, kudos to Michelle for sharing her first solo class with Thelma and the girls, cycling with Gloria, step interval with Haywood and amazing boot camp with Elwood, Anthony for making us squeeze that last ounce of energy on the climbing wall, the ladies at the Child watch for their caring vocation, all the lifeguards. The fabulous gymnastics camp team Bo, Courtney, Kelsey and Christy and everybody else that contributed to make this a special summer for us. We will continue to support the Y and try to stay engaged with you all."
Jacqueline Battle- "In the time that I have been a member of the Y, I have lost about 30 pounds! I really enjoy the classes and the fitness equipment is always clean. All of the staff is always more than willing to help you with anything you need."
Kelly Bradley Allen- "I want to say a special Thank You to Kristie Harper and all the great coaches for gymnastics camp. Delani loved every minute of it and she learned so much. Thank you again!!!"
Vicki Johnson- "I started Zumba classes over a year ago and fell in love with it! I have two sets of twins, which made me gain weight over the years. I thought to myself...man... I have gotta do something about this! So I started doing the Zumba classes with Amy Morris and then I would also do some of Chrissie's classes. It has definitely worked! I have lost about 20 pounds so far since last year and I am still working hard! I tell all of my friends about the classes and the Y, so many of them have started coming with me! One has even lost 50 pounds so far! My kids love the Y as well. They walk on the track with me and are even out-walking me now!"