When I was in high school, I remember playing field hocky outside RSS and witnessing the Athans pool being built next door. At the time, it was my dream to work here as a lifeguard, but never did I imagine what an impact this place would have on my life.
I am happy to say that I did land that lifeguarding job as a teen which launched my 40 year career with the YMCA of Okanagan. I was really quiet and soft spoken when I started, but that position played a huge role in developing my voice and self esteem.
I have always loved that the Y is a multi faceted organization that you can grow with, and boy did I grow here! I’ve worked in aquatics, child care, member services, and taught fitness classes. I’ve held various management positions and helped with marketing. I lead our National Youth Leadership Development program, as well as a pilot program designed to encourage teen girls to keep active in sports. I also collaborated on our very first fundraising campaign!
My career has been a constant evolution of developing myself and my confidence. From the time I started, I have undergone numerous YMCA training avenues. I’ve taken my fitness theory, yoga instructor training, resiliency training, Y Mindfulness program, and many other professional training streams that have had an enormous impact on the person I am today.
These have all set me up for success by making me more knowledgeable, grounded, and resilient.
Over the last few years, I had to take care of and advocate for my parents when they were ill. The voice that I gained at the Y made it easier to navigate the healthcare system to ensure their care. I found myself managing two households while helping my brother who has mental disabilities. While grieving after my parents passed, I also had to manage their estates which really took immense strength. It has been a busy and difficult period, which was only compounded by the pandemic.
I can honestly say that all my Y training has empowered me to manage whatever life has thrown my way. I developed coping skills and breathing skills that helped me through these hardest of times. The last few years would have been so much more stressful and reactive without all I learned at the Y.
This place has become an extension of my family. This was never just a job for me, I have been able to build so many connections and relationships here which really helped me through the pandemic.
My parents were always heavily involved in the community and I’m proud to say that I’ve been able to follow in their footsteps by keeping connected to my community here at the Y. I have volunteered, fundraised, and been involved in so many incredible charitable events.
The importance of strong values and philanthropy were handed down to me from my parents, and I was able to incorporate these into our child care programs to pass them on to so many other children.
This place has taught me so much and I’ve been able to return the favor by building resiliency, self esteem and strong values in many others here at the Y. It’s such a joy to run into vulnerable youth I worked with who are now thriving adults that credit the Y with shaping who they are today. To have worked with young kids from struggling homes who now come in with their own families feels incredible to see.
Although I have retired, I know I will continue to embrace the Y’s values throughout everything that I do. This place continues to keep me connected to the community and has provided me with a sense of belonging, self esteem, fulfilling relationships, and the skills needed to thrive.
I am so proud to see how the Y has grown and evolved into such a pillar in our community and I’m so happy to have played a part in it over the last four decades.