At YMCAs across the GTA, people come for exercise, child care, language assessment, or help with finding a job. They also get connected to other members, and to our staff and volunteers. These connections can be life changing – sometimes even life-saving – and they are thanks to our generous and caring YMCA donors.
This is a story about YMCA member Laurie, the connection she made with dedicated staff member Jeanette, and how this connection helped to change her at a time when she needed support.
“Laurie is a bright light,” Jeanette exclaims. “Her strength and courage have spread to other people at our YMCA. For over 14 years, I’ve seen how becoming part of the YMCA community can change lives, especially when they’ve experienced hardship. The Y is here to help people like Laurie when they need us most.”
Here’s Laurie’s story: “I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. I was looking for some normalcy in my life, and to stay active between chemotherapy sessions. I showed up at the Y and asked if I could have a tour. The person at the desk was very helpful, but when she told me the fee, I didn’t think I would be able to manage it. I was disappointed. But she said, “We’ll work something out.”
“I’ll never forget the moment when the phone rang and Jeanette told me that I would be able to come to the Y for a discounted rate. I felt like I had won the lottery! I had six rounds of chemotherapy. I’d have a week of treatment, a week of recovery, and then I would come back to the Y. My biggest challenge was having the energy to do something each day, but I made sure I got to the YMCA 2 to 3 times a week. I wanted to be active and strong and positive. I knew that I wasn’t going to give up.”
“Before I started coming to the Y, I felt alone. But here, people talk to you, and you feel at home. The Y isn’t just a gym and you’re not just another member – you’re someone who’s cared for by staff, volunteers and other members.”
At every YMCA health & fitness centre, one in four members relies on financial assistance to help them get healthy. YMCA donors play an essential role in creating more spaces for children and families across the GTA.