Getting motivated again!

Here are two testimonies from members at the FV Y about how they have been motivated to get moving again!

1. My wife and I recently had our first child. Since his birth, we have found it difficult to be able to work out or get any type of exercise. We attempted to at least eat healthy, but are always on the go. Joining the YMCA has given us options to workout either with our son, by going to the lap pool, or without our son, by leaving him in the child watch while we work out.

Member at FV

2. I have a balanced diet but was not getting enough work out time. I have always enjoyed swimming but was not able to find a place that could accommodate lap swimming for an adult; so I would end up not getting any work out time. But since I joined the YMCA I work out at least four days a week and look forward to my workouts.

Member at FV

When Staff Move On

I received a note this morning from a staff member stating that she would be leaving at the end of June. I was a little saddened at first, but then I began to read her note. It read: ” I wanted to thank you for allowing me the pleasure of working at the Y these past four years. Words can not express my feelings for the Y. I’ve learned so much about myself here. This Y program is amazing. I’m not surprised that we are a Trend Setter YMCA program. This program touches so many amazing children, many of whom I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring and building a relationship with. I cannot express my gratitude towards you and all of the staff. I felt like part of a family  here, one I will never forget.”

After reading this, I realized that everyone needs to move on. I felt so proud that this staff member gained so much from working here. I was so encouraged by her passion for the YMCA and the work that we are doing. I am really happy for this staff member and I know she will be successfull in whatever she chooses to do in the future.

Berlin’s Second Home

Our collaboration with Berlin started almost 20 years ago, and the UpBeat program has grown tremendously since then. They use Camp Woodstock as a place to gather, plan, bond, and problem solve within their school and their community. They are not just any user group though. They are almost entirely self sufficient, including the preparation and serving of their meals. They also spend quite a bit of their time working on service projects around camp, always sure to leave camp a better place than when they arrived.

This group now feels like camp is their 2nd home, and we are lucky to consider them now our good friends.

Check out this video, a beginning of our LOC camp video challenge. I was able to interview this senior about the “UpBeat” program at Berlin High School, and how Camp Woodstock has played a role in the program, and in his development as a leader.

Quite the Balancing Act!


What does a balancing act mean to you? Many of us might say balance between work, family and friends, but as I looked around during LIVESTRONG today, I realized that a balancing act is so much more for some people.

As one of our participants walked on the treadmill, breaking quite the sweat, he called me over and said “Look! I’m going 4.0mph at 2% grade!” all while maintaining a conversation with me. He also mentioned that he’s lost a few pounds, is feeling stronger and has more endurance. This same participant has stage 4 cancer, whose doctors are not only amazed that he is alive, but that he is taking yoga, zumba, and other activities in our program.


 I wanted to blog after talking to Rick, but I decided to follow the group into the studio to take a few photos. They were not only lifting free weights to 70’s disco music, but were doing it on a BOSU or on one foot! Sometimes inspiration comes in many forms!


Changing together

Last night, at a Child Development staff meeting, our staff team tried the new “Your Change Journey” tool from the Living Our Cause Tools and Resources.

I chose this activity because our team has seemed a little less joyful lately- I’ve heard some gentle complaints that aren’t really typical of our say-yes-to-anything group.  I suspect that they might be feeling a bit overwhelmed by the number of changes that we’ve navigated since the beginning of the school year, and I hoped  that talking about change in a positive way might help everyone feel more “in control” of what’s happening at our Y, and to feel recharged and excited for the last month of the school year.

When I introduced the activity, I shared that we would be spending about an hour writing about and then sharing a significant change event in our lives.  There was some half-hearted grumbling when we started (it was 6:30 at night, the activity seemed to require a lot of writing, no one could think of a specific change, etc.), but we stuck it out (mostly, that meant ignoring the grumbling and waiting patiently through some awkward pauses), agreed to some ground rules about confidentiality and the “right to pass” if we felt uncomfortable, and got to work.

The activity asked us to think through the change in a very methodical way- we broke it down into stages and took notes about specific experiences at each stage.  We had to think about the people who had helped and supported us, the aspects of the change that had scared us or excited us, and about our feelings and motivations through each stage.  After about 20 minutes of thinking and writing, we chose a partner (someone who we don’t get to work with every day) and shared our stories.  Not everyone felt comfortable talking- but everyone felt ready to listen!

There was some crying and lots of laughing, and the group discussion at the end got everyone talking about what had happened, what we had experienced together, and how it might impact our work.  We brainstormed some of the changes that our families experience with us: Moms are trusting their children to a child care program for the first time.  Families who have just moved to the area are meeting us as one of their first connections in a new community.  Kids are getting ready to try something new, but feeling uncertain about what will happen.  Thinking deeply about our own changes made us feel both more respectful of the life experiences that each member brings to us, and more confident that we might be able to help those members through their own change journeys.

Working through this activity together took most of our staff meeting- and we even ran a little longer than we planned (the conversations were really good!)  I was nervous when we started- this staff team is finishing a BUSY school year, and we’re headed full throttle into camp.  I wasn’t positive how they would respond to this activity at the end of a long day- so I crossed my fingers and trusted that our mutual passion for our work would help us.

It was a significant investment of our time, but we all felt like it was worth it at the end.  Everyone left smiling and laughing together- ready to try anything!

Girls can play football too

We offer a Co-ed Flag Football program at our YMCA but this is the first year we have had any girls sign up. In fact we have two girls that have signed up. At first they were a little intimidated but after being made to feel included, they are thriving in the program. In fact, one of the girl’s parent stated that playing flag football has helped her to become more aggressive in her soccer program. As a young “tomboy” myself I love seeing other girls playing sports with the boys.

Kerrigan’s Korner – A “Y-Lifer”

The meaning of life to a ‘Y Lifer”

I was sitting in my office on the phone with a parent of child who plays in our T-Ball program; she was upset the week earlier at how we spent to much time practicing and not enough time playing the game. I have worked for the Y for 23 years and this conversation with parents about youth sports never gets old. Our T-Ball program is for kids that are 3-5 years old. During my conversation with mom about playing time, one of my favorite kids was outside my door motioning to me to come out and talk to him… I gave him the one minute signal and wrapped things up with my T-Ball mom. I went out to see what Benjamin wanted; he had made his way to the gym and was playing basketball with the other teens. I called out “Benjamin what’s up”. He came over with a big smile on his face and said he just wanted to see how I was doing and that he did well on a test in school.

I leave the Y every night with a million thoughts on the things I need to do and how I can be a better Y professional. On this night I left thinking how the parent I spoke to about T-Ball and the connection I have made with Benjamin are so important to the meaning of my Y life. Benjamin and the parent need the Y, and as a staff we need to make them feel that they are the most important part of our day.

Michael Kerrigan
Senior Program Director
East Hartford YMCA

Wellness Coach Makes and Impact


Wellness Coach Makes and Impact

“My name is Keith and I am 55 years old. I was born and raised in Hartford, CT. I have been a member of the Y since late February. For the last 15 years, I like many member have ignored my my physical well-being. With the help of the Downtown Y, AKA, “my new best friends,” I have learned a tremendous amount about living a healthy lifestyle. The Y’s classes have increased my cardio endurance and strength. I look forward to the Y and putting 100 % effort because I have the support of the staff.”


Lisa has been a member of the Wheeler Regional Family YMCA for many years now.  When the Wheeler YMCA’s Tri Club kicked off it’s 4th season, Lisa wanted the challenge of trying something new.  She signed up for the Triathlon Club, came to the kick off meeting, and was extremely excited to attempt something so new and different for her.  She was determined to learn how to swim and run.  An avid SPIN class participant, Lisa felt the pool and the running were her weaknesses and she decided to train hard to learn how to swim and run.

Our club offers swim clinics twice a week and with a crazy work schedule Lisa was not able to attend.  I had offered to meet with Lisa and some other ladies every Monday to help them become more comfortable in the pool and to overcome that “drowning” fear.  Lisa made sure she was there and was willing to try anything to learn how to swim.  Lisa was determined and I was determined to help her swim!
After a very discouraging swim, Lisa stormed out of the pool and seemed to have given up.  I followed Lisa into the locker room to check on her and see if she was okay.  Lisa was very upset!  She was not comfortable doing something that she didn’t think she could ever do and after several mouth fulls of water during that swim she had had it.  Her mind was made up and she was not going to participate in our indoor triathlons.  Even though she had joined the Running Club and started to run twice a week, she felt that the pool was the hardest part and that she would never survive it.
I had encouraged Lisa to never give up.  Swimming is very difficult and that most people have a very hard time with it.  I told her to keep trying and to keep training in the pool.  She needed to build her self confidence in the pool by taking baby steps.  It’s not going to be easy I told her but I saw in her eye that she wanted it bad.  She really did want to swim and Lisa did just that.  She would show up on her own schedule and swim in the pool each week and taught herself how to swim.  Lisa was determined!
When our first indoor triathlon ran in January, Lisa asked to volunteer and was placed in the pool area with another long-time volunteer.  I wanted Lisa to see how many people do have a hard time in the swim and it’s not just her.  So many of us have a difficult time in the pool and are not comfortable.  After our first race I can see that Lisa felt better about it.  She came back each month and volunteered in the pool watching everybody swim.  Volunteers, Tri Club members, and friends and family encouraged Lisa to give it a try.  They all knew that she could do it because she wanted it!
Our final indoor triathlon of the season was on May 20th.  Lisa contacted me, not to volunteer but to RACE!  She felt confident enough that she was going to do it.  We all knew she could and we pumped her up via e-mail and Facebook getting her ready for her big event.  We all cheered Lisa on in the pool and when I saw her on the bike she had the biggest smile on her face.  She was beyond happy that she made it through the swim.  Lisa swam a 1/2 mile, biked 13 miles and ran 3.1 miles that day and I have never been so proud.  To see someone give up 5 months ago but then face the challenge because she is not a quitter, proves to me and so many other people that anything can happen when you put your mind to it.  Because of this, Lisa not only has the confidence in doing a triathlon but the confidence to do just about anything in life.
Stacia Cardillo
Wheeler Regional Family YMCA