I met David a few weeks ago by email, when we both decided to make an appointment to do his interview: a Wednesday, my favorite day of the week. According to astrology, Wednesday is associated with mercury, which is the planet of communication. What better day to do the interview than a day related to communication, right?

I arrived early so as not to be late for the interview, but to my surprise David was waiting for me. Upon entering, I recognized him. He was at the end of the hall waiting for his interview. Have you ever met someone wearing a mask, and you know that even though you can’t see their smile, they are the happiest people? That was my first impression of David: happy, and friendly… and yes, I was right, he was very friendly and willing to share in response all my questions!

We set up our space for the interview in a room, where preschoolers usually spent their morning. We occupied the space because the kiddos were napping. If you have kids and you are reading this, probably you should be checking the programs we offer for our kiddos. At the Y, we prepare our youth for the future, throughout the use of a routine, structure, and creativity to set up preschoolers for success.

But now, who is David?

Before I introduce him, I want you to know why I interviewed him.

The Y is not just a gym, it is so much more than that. It is a place that you can become so important to you that you will consider the members and staff your family and your community. Another way to describe it would be a place where you can feel safe and full of love.

Having said so, when I decided to be part of the Y staff, I arrived not only with the purpose of serving my community, but also to share the Y story on social networks through videos, images, or writing, as I am doing it now. Here I am, about the share a story of someone, who has been a member at the Y, since he was very young and whose life has been impacted and transform by our organization.

David has been a residence in the Downtown Residence Program at the Lincoln Family Downtown YMCA. This is his story:

How did you hear about the residence program?

I knew about the program because my father used to live in the YMCA. Not in this one, but the one that was here before this one. So, I knew it was here because of my experience when I was a kid. Also, 10 years ago I met someone who had checked out the program.

Tell me about you, David.

I like watching movies and I read a lot. I have a history background, and I was working on my PhD in ancient history a while ago. I did not finish the program, but I do like to read a lot about nonfiction. I used to be an editor. I love Greek and Latin, art history, writing and languages. Also, I am going to start my job at Amazon, so I am excited about that.

When did you become a Residence of the program?

I became a residence in early December of 2020. I did not come here by choice. I ended up losing my job and with the lockdown and everything, I couldn’t find a new one. I lost all my money and my savings so I did not have too much of a choice. I am glad the facilities are available, and it is kind of nice being here having this option.

David, tell me about your Y story.

I was born here in Phoenix, Arizona, and since I was a kid in 3rd grade to 7th grade, I spent 9 hours a day every summer in the Y: every month, 5 days a week. I did that religiously. I absolutely loved it. It was very different back then, they redesigned everything.

My father was from Florida, and he moved back here in the 50s. He used to live in the Y, an old YMCA couple blocks away from here (Lincoln Family Downtown YMCA). My grandmother, on my mom side, met a lifelong friend of hers here the year this place was opened. He was much older than her, his wife had died and my grandfather too, and she became his caretaker eventually. So, there are a lot of connections for me here. Also, my sister, who is two years older than me, started coming to the Y a year later than me and we came together for few years. She later became a counselor at the YMCA Camp Sky-Y.

I did not know how to swim, so I learned how to swim here, and eventually became a junior lifesaver (lifeguard). This was the greatest place for me in the world. It holds a lot of memories for me. So, it was very neat coming here.

Tell me about your special memory here in the Y.

My special memory is when I was awarded the highest-level badge in the swimming program. That metal meant a lot to me. I worked to get it for a long time. Getting it was a special moment because one of my goals was able to swim very well and I achieved it.

Do you think the Y impacted your life when you were a kid?

The Y hugely impacted in me in many ways, even way that I may not be aware of, but I know they are there. I met a lot of people, and I still have some friends from my time in the Y, same as my sister. I met people from different backgrounds, some diversity, but not as much as the Y has now.

How will you describe your experience living in the Y?

It’s been positive. it’s nice to meet people. I get along with everyone well, everyone seems to be nice. I haven’t used the gym so far, but that’s one of my goals.

Thank you, David for sharing your story with us.

My storytelling experience is further enriched when I have the opportunity to meet people who have beautiful stories at the Y. It is not a secret, that I am a history lover, and I love ancient civilizations, so after the interview I had to motivate David to create a blog, because I know like me, there are many more who will be fascinated to know the knowledge that David has.

Interesting in sharing your Y story like David? Email me at clary.tanner@vosymca.org.