This day has been looming for a while now, the day that I get to say goodbye to my friends and family at the Norm Waitt Sr. YMCA. It’s hard to sum up my time at the Y, I mean; I started there my freshman year of high school. To put that in perspective, I just graduated college with my degree in Communications. I guess you can say I’ve been at the Y a long time but in all honesty, it seems like just a few days.
My time at the Y has left me with so many memories and even more great friends. I want to start from the beginning, back where it all started; the pool. I was originally hired, at 14, to teach swimming lessons for our summer programs, something that we, and I, still do today. My very first job was spending my days in the water; teaching kids anywhere from the basics of floating, all the way to the more advanced strokes like breast and butterfly. I wish I knew how many kids and even adults I have taught throughout the years.
Besides swim lessons, I have spend countless hours, high above the water, on top of the guard stand. I remember telling my mom, when she suggested that I become a lifeguard, that that was something that was never going to happen. I am glad this is one instance where she was right. Being a lifeguard has been a rewarding experience. It’s through my time carrying the big red tube that I have met some of the most amazing people. I have heard countless life stories, times of war and times of great success in the lives of our members. The smiles I see when they are talking about the kids and grandkids, or the excitement in their voice when they tell me about a memorable moment in their lives make coming to work easy and leaving them for good that much harder.
The members make the Y what it is, that has always been my opinion. They become more that just the people you see everyday, they become friends. It’s the members that I am going to miss the most.
Besides the members, the kids that I interact with and teach always put a smile on my face. Whether it was swim lessons, sports or youth activities, my time with the kids has been a blast. It was here at the Y that I realized that teaching kids about sports is something that I want to continue to do. Seeing them learn to work together as a team to accomplish one goal is priceless. My time in the sports department has been more rewarding than I can put into words.
One reason that I have stayed at the Y for so long is because if the impact that the Y has on people’s lives, not only individuals, but families and the local community as well. I have made connections with so many local groups and organizations through my time at the Y that I truly don’t believe I could have done on my own.
I am not one for words, spoken words that is. It is hard for me to say out loud what I write on paper, or my screen in this case. I have been thinking about this for a long time, what I wanted to say on my last day. Thanking each and every person who has made my time at the Y special in some way would have made this into a book.
I want to talk about my coworkers for a minute. Each and every one of them has had an impact on my life in some way. Some of my closest friends are among those who show up in Y Staff t-shirts. It was a coworker and friend who got me to listen to something other that country music, and even got me to a Pitbull concert (which is still one of the best concerts I have attended). It was that same friend who taught me the importance of dancing just because.
Most coworkers are just that, coworkers. They work in the same building, the go home at night just to repeat the process the next day. The Y is a different story. We don’t just spend time together at work, but outside of it as well. Many like to call us a Y Family, but that is really what we are, a family.
I guess what I am saying is, so long, see you later, until we meet again. I refuse to say goodbye, because I have already promised many members that I would come back and visit them again. One member told me yesterday that my presence in the pool has kept her coming back every day, that I have positively influenced her life. In all reality, it’s completely the opposite. It’s the members who have had a lasting impact on me and I am eternally grateful for that.
I know there are a lot of things I am forgetting to put in this post but maybe that just means I’ll have the chance to do another one late. Thank you everyone, members, guests and coworkers, for everything over the years. It’s been one heck of a ride.
Just me. That's all.