I've worked for the YMCA locally now for four years, and in the Y in various states for 25 years, and I am still surprised by some of the great things that happen at the YMCA, many of which would not be possible without the funding that the Y gets from the United Way.
A month or so ago, I was giving a mid-morning tour of the downtown Williamsport Branch YMCA to a colleague. As we came to the pool, we saw a middle aged man walking out of the adjacent locker room with towel and bathing suit in hand. He was peering into the window at the large senior ladies water exercise class in a peculiar way.
Having thought that I'd seen this situation before, I introduced myself and stated "Oh, I see that you can't get into the pool. Sorry about that, but it is time for the senior exercise class. Can I show you the pool schedule?" The man's name was Rob. Rob told me that he'd just gotten out of the pool. I must have given him a curious look because he immediately told me his story.
Rob, center, is surrounded by YMCA class participants.
He said that he had been in a serious accident about a year ago. The doctors had told him that he'd never walk again. He said that he'd never come into the Y before, but the doctors told him that swimming was the best exercise that he could do. He went on to tell me that the ladies exercise class had "adopted him" when he first started and has been watching over him and helping him ever since. He went on to explain that they continue to allow him to lap swim during their class as they always had, and continue to help him reach his goals to walk again. As we were talking, we are slowly walking toward the door, that's when I noticed that he was limping, but walking quite well.
He said to me, "You see- look at me - I'm now walking OK. They said I'd never walk again. I look in there at those ladies to let them know that I love them. I know that they know that I love them. And you know what? I know that they love me."
Of course I was flabbergasted. I told Rob that he is "a YMCA success story.. He said, "Oh, I tell everyone I know about this place. Its great!" I thanked him again as he disappeared out the door to the rest of his day.
The funding that the Williamsport Branch YMCA receives from the United Way sometimes helps people in ways that we can't imagine. Did we ever imagine that funding for senior programs would help a middle aged man recover from a serious car accident? No, but what a wonderful surprise! My point to all this is that your donation to the United Way will help people that you don't know in ways that you can't imagine.
I'd like to thank the ladies in the morning water exercise class for helping Rob. They didn't need to, but it was and continues to be, the right thing to do. I'd like to thank Rob for allowing the Y to be the conduit for his success story. And finally, I'd like to thank everyone out there that makes a donation to the United Way, which allows these types of miracles to happen every day, throughout Lycoming County, at all the various agencies. You may not know who will ultimately benefit, but trust me, your donation allows for wonderful things to happen to ordinary people like you, me, and Rob.
Have a Blessed Holiday Season,
Dave Fagerstrom, President/CEO
River Valley Regional YMCA
(Note: Rob's story is just one of thousands of individuals helped by Y youth, senior, and childcare programs receiving United Way support. To make a contribution to this year's campaign, contact the Lycoming County United Way office, 323-9448, or pledge online at lcuw.org.)