My Y Story: Gretchen

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Gretchen’s daughter Charitie, Gretchen, and Gretchen’s mom Charlene

“The YMCA is a family whose lives are intertwined by a common sense of belonging.”



For Gretchen, the Y is the place where three generations of her family can come together for friendship, fitness, and fun. Gretchen has worked for the YMCA for eight years, but her involvement with the organization began more than two decades ago. From health and wellness and child care to volunteering and even learning how the swim, the Y has been an integral part of her life. “The staff has been a family to my daughter and I,” she says. “The fellowship, training, and leadership development my daughter has received has changed the trajectory of her future.”

Gretchen has countless fond memories of the Y, but she’s most excited about the YMCA’s future in Western New York. “I was there for the groundbreaking and ribbon-cutting of our new facility on Snyder Drive in Lockport,” she says. “I’m energized by the excitement of our community and the hard work so many people put into building our new branch. It’s a place for a family like mine to be supported as much, if not more, than we were.”

Gretchen says what she loves most about the Y is that it’s a place for people from all walks of life to come together. “I watch kids coming and going from child watch and the adventure center, open family pool, or swim lessons. I see pee wee sports alongside a range of people playing pick-up basketball or a dad throwing a football with his son. I see a daughter with her 70-year-old mom walking the track next to a teen running to keep in shape for his sports season at school.”

Gretchen says she’s confident that the Y will continue to make a positive impact on individuals and families for generations. “The YMCA is a family whose lives are intertwined by a common sense of belonging. I can’t wait for more to come.”

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