Long-time member, Candace, shares her testimony on how the YMCA has been a part of her life, from youth to adulthood, from various PA and New York locations, and in sickness and in health.
Lansdale was home base to me growing up; the North Penn YMCA a community center I always desired getting to know. It was not until my teenage years I made the bold step forward and took dance classes. My first experience so great I could hardly wait to see what else was in store.
Luck on my side the summer of 1970 had the Y presenting its very first summer stock theater show “The Fantasticks” and I was cast as Luisa. The fun we had is hard to describe and so welcomed we followed that production with a rendition of Shakespeare’s 12th Night, both musicals.
At the age of exploration I moved into Philly, loved it’s quaintness and accessibility but quickly headed to New York, much bigger and not as easy to navigate but oh so fascinating that it swiftly became my home and true adult love.
Young and a might bit crazy, my way to handle stress back then was to eat, delicious, but not so good for me. The only thing that came to mind of course was the Y as I traveled down the east side on foot to the Vanderbilt YMCA swimming each day as my body and spirit returned.
Five years on the Upper East Side I made the risky move out to Brooklyn which turned out to be one of my best decisions ever. While my main gig was a free-lance hair and makeup artist; my side show was athletics. I trained and became a high impact aerobics instructor, nautilus and free weight trainer and best of all – the first woman lifeguard on Coney Island.
I joined a Young Women’s Christian Association on 3rd Avenue in downtown Brooklyn. It had an awesome pool and with membership, I developed close friends and lasting acquaintances. That location was eventually turned over to women’s housing to empower them while in transition. Many of us joined the Park Slope YMCA the next neighborhood over. It had a smaller pool but my relationships flourished.
The city so large and expansive not only in physical terrain but production; the subway routed just about anywhere you might want to go. I spent time at a Y in Greenpoint Brooklyn as a guest. The Y was something I could always count on.
It was during my stay at the Park Slope YMCA that I became extremely ill and left NY not by choice but out of necessity. I’ve been trying to save my quality of life for quite some time and know that to some it looks as though I have. As someone who exists in a body that cannot live as living should be, just being alive is not good enough for me.
Upon arrival in Lansdale I needed the structure of recreation and my only thought was the North Penn YMCA. I had more than a handful of people help me, extend themselves and check on me – the comfort of community.
The years have gone by, the struggle still critical and the Y has seen many changes, through it all it has always been there for me. As the facade has grown and upgraded now incorporating two human resource centers, the interior expansive, modern and inviting, the old heart and soul remains. The Wellness Center filled with familiar faces and a staff that embraces their work and shares knowledge openly.
The Y has taken some of the burden from my life and offered me an opportunity to continue with my love of athletics in a safe and caring environment. When someone asks me about the Y, I tell them it has something for everyone – family recreation, a major fitness center, classes, several swimming pools, and a coffee bar with friends and neighborhood folks abounding. It’s accepting and encompassing of diversity, the embodiment of all ages, races, religions and preferences. I think when we contemplate community our thoughts are about health, education, religious freedom, professionalism, social activity and let’s face it just a little down home fun. No longer do I think of the North Penn YMCA as part of this community, rather, it is the community.
A standing invitation to be a part of the Y, it’s been one of the greatest parts of me for as long as I can remember.