The Y is a Safe Place

I never know who I will meet when I come to work for the day. That’s part of what I love about this work. The Y is a conglomerate of people in every possible station of life whose needs are as diverse as they are. The other day I had the opportunity to meet a current member whose daughter was in a difficult situation. This member was worried about her daughter—she was noticeably distracted. Her daughter had unfortunately found herself in a very abusive relationship with her husband. When I met this member, she didn’t even know where he daughter was. All she knew was that her daughter and grandchildren were supposedly someplace safe and they were far from their abusive family member.

This member came to me that day because the sign next to my door said “Membership Office”. I am always fascinated by what our members will tell us if we listen. She loves the Y. She feels it’s a great spot for respite and positive activity. She was hoping it could be the same for her daughter when she was able to attend. However, the problem was that her daughter had very little to her name. She had to leave her home immediately. She had only what was in her wallet, and she was afraid to use credit cards because she could be tracked down. She of course didn’t have a job down here yet. Her priority right now was finding safety for her and her children. She wondered how her daughter would pay for membership.

I explained how our Annual Campaign works and how we never turn anyone away based on their inability to pay. I talked to her about our mission to be accessible for all members of our community regardless of their situation, and I explained to her that Membership for All was in place to help bridge these gaps. I told her that the last thing she needed to worry about right now was how her daughter could afford the Y, and we would find a way when her daughter was able and ready.

I had the pleasure of meeting her daughter and grandchildren recently. It’s moments like this meeting that underscore the reasons we are here and work so hard every day. She was extremely gracious and had tears in her eyes. She expressed how happy she was to be here, in a safe spot, with her mother and her children. I’m happy that she’s able to be here and that the Y can be a part of her life.

Submitted by: Will Kusek, Member Services Director, Farmington Valley YMCA

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