Y Member Spotlight: Helen Griffin

As a child, before the Tempe YMCA was built, at age 7 not too far from her home the “Village Y Rec Center” was built. Helen and her siblings begged there father to join the Rec Center when it first opened. The rec center was a place for kids to hang out and play games. Helen and her 6 other siblings would go to the center almost every day and play shuffle board during the summer.  As a child Helen and her siblings were very involved with the YMCA. They were a part of the YMCA’S Youth Sports Program, Swim Lessons, and as well as participating on the swim team.


Every summer from the time she was 8-22 Years of age Helen attended Phantom Lake YMCA Camp in Mukwonago Wisconsin. At age 8 she was a camper and the older she got she became a Jr.Camper, Counselor, Swim Director, and Program Director. Helen met her husband at the Phantom summer camp. Helen hadn’t known who her soon to be husband was. He was the swimming and program director. He left for 2 and a half years to teach in Australia, and when he returned the rest was history!


After college Helen came out to Arizona and taught swim lessons at the Scottsdale YMCA. Preschools in Scottsdale would bring kids to the Y to learn how to swim and Helen was there swim teacher. Helen also guarding at the downtown YMCA a couple nights a week. Shortly after Helen decided she did not want to guard anymore.


Helen and her husband moved to Tempe Arizona in 1982. Five years later the Tempe Y opens and Helen and her friend took an aerobics class together. Mrs. Griffin also took advantage of the Amazing Kids center with her newly born son. At the time Helen was teaching at Mesa Public Schools so she made sure she took group fitness classes on her down time. After 29 years of teaching Helen retired. The Y was seeking volunteers to help in the fitness center and Helen decided to do so to give back to the community! Helen wanted to make sure she knew how to work with all different age groups so she decided to take a personal training program at MCC to become a certified trainer.


Both of Helen’s sons were part of a Y  group called “Indian Guides’”. This program was a father/son project. A group of 10-12 father son teams. They would go camping, hiking, go to each other homes. The fathers were always involved. They would have meetings, activities. Etc.


Helen’s favorite fun Y story to tell is back in her camping days when her future husband was a tripping director and she was a camp counselor of kids ages 14. There was a kanu trip on the Wisconsin River and all of the kids would gather up at the camp fire at night together and someone said “What’s going on,” and everyone looked up in the sky and it looked like there were these drapes wiggling around, and it was the northern lights!


Helen and her husband still belong to the Tempe Family YMCA to this day!

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