More confident in the water

Ahna wanted to follow in her older siblings’ footsteps and be included in something they were doing: her brother was playing basketball and her sister was working out – both at the Y. So, Ahna came to the Y, too! She chose swimming lessons, and loved her instructor. Ahna’s instructor not only helped her feel more comfortable in the water, but Ahna also now feels more confident! Her mom noticed the same once summer arrived, and Ahna was outside in the water more often – without a bubble. Now, Ahna looks forward to trying other programs at the Y such as gymnastics.

Wonderful Opportunity

“Thank you very much for providing this wonderful opportunity for my family. I am entrusting the Y with two of my most precious possessions: my son and my health. While my family is right now, like many others, enduring through a financial hardship, I am confident one day we’ll soon be back on our feet. In the meantime, I am grateful for your assistance.” — Jessica, scholarship recipient

Used the YMCA All of My Life

“I’ve used the YMCA all of my life. When I was 4, I did their daycare program. The Y was where I met Santa for the first time. The Y is where I learned to swim. Many of my favorite childhood memories took place at Ponterill. The money you’ve contributed to this program will surely create many new happy memories for many, many people. Thank you.” — Lilly, scholarship recipient

Enjoy the After-School Program

“I would like to take this time to express my thanks for all the contributions you have made to the Pittsfield Family YMCA so that many children and adults in our community could participate in the many wonderful programs the center has to offer. In past years, my children have also benefitted from these contributions, as without them they would not have been able to enjoy the after-school program or the summer camp that has kept them safe and that taught them to continue to strive to become responsible, active young adults in our community.  Thanks again!” — Tara C.

Seeking a supportive atmosphere

A mom has some weight issues, so she joined another fitness facility. After several months, she realized she wanted activities for her three children, too! So, she joined the Y where her children participate AND support HER with her fitness goals. Plus, she qualified for the Y’s financial scholarship program which made her wishes affordable.

Inspiring a camper to dream

A young girl came to Camp Sumner through a local service due to family issues. Throughout camp, she learned how to interact with other children and she was given the opportunity to see her first play on one of the camp’s field trips: ”The Little Mermaid” which inspired her to become a movie star! Now back with her family, she hopes to participate in acting classes and someday be up on the stage performing at camp.

A cancer survivor’s YMCA family

A senior cancer survivor joined the Y to stay active and keep healthy. She loves our water aerobics classes and misses being here when she isn’t. While she joined for the exercise, she gained so much more. “It’s become a family in the water aerobics class … I find that it’s peaceful, energetic. … Everyone knows everyone and cares for everyone.” She also brings her grandchildren to the Y for family open swim time.

The best childcare for their baby

A new baby recently joined our infant room. The baby’s caretakers sought out the guidance of our infant teachers as it had been a while since they cared for a child so young, diligently caring for the baby and wanting to adapt to a consistent schedule. Although social services gave the option of funded home-based childcare services, the caretakers chose to pay privately to the Y because they’re so happy with our teachers. And through our financial scholarship program, these caretakers were able to make it possible.

Encouraging a young girl

A young girl had some issues, so her mom enrolled her in gymnastics at the Y. The girl was a little apprehensive at first, but the instructor encouraged her to try some moves, and she did! By the end of the class, she was having fun and said she wanted to come back. Plus, the next day she asked her mom for a hula hoop.

Developing team skills

Frankie came to the Y for the wide variety of sports and programs that we offer. Her mom explains, “I’m a student and everyone needs help in their lives,” referring to our financial scholarship program. Frankie has since tried every sport and loves each activity! She particularly loves outdoor soccer and feels that everyone is so nice. Frankie has developed great skills and has learned the importance of being part of a team.

Developing character skills

Ayden’s parents were looking for a community organization to engage their son and chose the Y for its youth programs. Ayden first tried swim lessons, then gymnastics and loved them! Ayden’s mom explained that the gymnastics instructor made the experience so much fun, helping him but never pressuring him. Ayden also looks forward to soccer when he’s a little older. From his time at the Y, Ayden’s mom sees his listening skills and ability to follow instructions have grown, just like him.

Reaching his health goals

In April of 2009, Carter joined the Y. His weight was about 340 lbs. His waist was 54 inches. His blood pressure and blood sugar were very high. Carter’s doctor recommended swimming. Carter came to the Y and expressed that he was on a fixed income. We provided Carter with a financial scholarship so that he could reach his health goals. Two years later, he lost 80 lbs. and 14 inches. His blood pressure and blood sugar are much lower. He shares, “I want to thank the YMCA for being there. The staff has been very supportive and friendly.”

A remarkable instructor

Theresa, a retired RN, joined the Y while she was in her 50s, taking classes and exercising. She later began volunteering and then started teaching classes. As one of our instructors, people have said they feel better and stronger by taking her senior classes, and she occasionally hears that doctors have referred patients to her classes. “I have my aches and pains like everyone else. I don’t worry about it. If you sit back and let those things take over, you’ll be in a wheelchair.” Theresa reflected on her own heart troubles by saying, “I survived my heart attack (in 1998 at 70 years old) because I was in such good shape.”

Beginning anew at the Y

Stephanie first learned about the Y when her older daughter played in our soccer program. She later sought a family membership to stay active during the winter by swimming together during family open swim time. She also wanted individual activities for her and her daughters. Listening to her needs, the Y awarded a scholarship so that Stephanie can continue to attend the Y. She has also volunteered her time coaching. In 2012, Stephanie and her family became the first recipient of the Y’s “New Beginnings” scholarship. Stephanie was honored, in part because it “really happened at a time in my life when I was looking for a new beginning” and an opportunity to focus on herself.

A heart-healthy routine

Since the late 1980s, Michael has been working out at the Y 3-4 nights a week, utilizing the fitness equipment and classes and swimming occasionally. Several years later, he was diagnosed with a severe heart condition. His cardiologist recommended eating better, in addition to exercising, to become healthier and has since lost 40 pounds! Michael says visiting the Y is a part of his daily routine and that he misses us when he’s on vacation. “The people and programs are great … If I wasn’t coming here, I wouldn’t still be around.”

Better than watching TV

A teen from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bahati came to the United States in October 2009. Bahati joined the Y to prepare himself for doing sports but later became a volunteer assistant coach in our soccer league. Bahati also learned to swim in our pool. He enjoys coming to the Y to prepare himself for soccer and track and shares that doing so is a “good way to spend time, instead of watching TV.”

Volunteering as much as needed

Jack first came to the Pittsfield Family YMCA in 1980 in need of a place to stay. The Y welcomed him into our residential program. Jack also became an employee for the Y, working in several roles before retiring in 2005. Since his early years with the Y, Jack’s interest in contributing to the community drew him into volunteerism. He served as a youth sports coach for the Y’s baseball and basketball leagues and as a helping hand for the Y’s special events. Through coaching, Jack has helped children develop their skill sets through learning the fundamentals of sports, all the while instilling the values of “sportsmanship, attitude and teamwork.”

Seeking a positive environment for her and her son

Kristina, a young mother, was exercising at another fitness facility which was too expensive for this college student on a tight budget. Studying to become an elementary teacher, she was also managing the anniversary of her father’s death and some anxiety. Kristina approached the Y for financial assistance. Listening to her needs, the Y awarded Kristina and her son a scholarship so that she can lose weight (she lost 65 lbs. running on our treadmills!) and sign up her son for soccer. Kristina explains that she will take full advantage of the Y’s activities in her commitment to make healthy choices.

Discovering my career path from the Y

“I began working at the YMCA Camp Ponterril in 1997 when I first moved to Pittsfield.  I didn’t know anyone here and a family member turned me on to the Y summer camp as a potential job.  I was a 19-year-old (soon to be) college sophomore at that time studying English/Communications.  All I wanted to do was be in radio and television.

“I had always enjoyed mentoring and working with children, and the YMCA summer job really allowed me to find my true calling in life.  I really took to working with children in this new professional capacity.  I worked with Unit 2 children (children entering the 2nd grade in the fall) and loved every minute of it.  The job also helped me make many great friends that I still stay in touch with to this day.  Parents began asking me what I was going to college for and suggested that I go into education.  I took this as a massively wonderful compliment as I must have been doing something right.  I did, in fact, take on another major in college and entered the education program at (at that time) North Adams State College.  I stuck with the program and eventually graduated with a bachelor’s in English/Communication as well as Education.  I then went on to work at the downtown YMCA gaining experience in all age levels honing my skills and building my experience.  My last role at the YMCA was the off-site before and after-school Program leader at Egremont Elementary School.  I later went back to the newly named MCLA for my Master’s in Education.  I may have found my way to education in the end, however, it cannot be denied that through the summer camp job and positive parent comments and compliments that I was definitely encouraged and pushed in that direction.

Carl Ameen photo“The Y was a very positive vehicle which helped me realize my passion.  I later became an elementary school teacher at Conte’s Community School for 7 years, then I became the principal of Allendale Elementary School for 5.5 years and I am now the COO (Chief Operations Officer) of a financial training company where I am still using my experience in education writing curriculum and crafting trainings for adults.

“The Pittsfield Family YMCA has had a very positive impact on my life, so much so to the point where my daughter has been involved with the Y from the infant/toddler room (daycare) all the way to being in a before and after-school program (Williams Elementary School).  She is also on the Polar Bears Swim Team as well.”

- Carl Ameen