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Rye YMCA Recording Members' Stories For Project

Ann Ivan, Rye YMCA fitness center director, interviews Jill Doornick for the Rye YMCA' “Voices From The Community” project. Photo Credit: Contributed
Stories from the Rye Y's After School members fill a wall. Photo Credit: Contributed

RYE, N.Y. – The Rye YMCA is continuing to collect stories of residents’ experiences with the center during its story-telling project, “Voices From The Community.”

The project is modeled loosely on National Public Radio’s “Story Corps Project,” and was launched to further the sense of community at the center, according to Rye YMCA officials. Members told their personal tales of what brought them to the Y as well as successes and challenges encountered on the road to healthy living.

“We were touched and gratified by the stories we heard during the Story Project," said Executive Director Gregg Howells in a statement. "It’s clear that the Y is so much more than gym or a childcare center - it’s a community hub where people share their hopes, their goals and their challenges, and where they support each other.”

During the course of two days in early November, members sat down with staff interviewers in a “story booth” fashioned out of a gym mat. Seven staff members had the opportunity to be interviewed in the days leading up to the story project. Children from the Y’s “After School Adventures” program also participated, writing interesting facts about themselves and what they like about the Y.

Bill Dichter, who takes aqua jog classes with his wife Carol Ann, told an interviewer, “The Y is a community of good people and we love being part of it … it is our lifeline for our hearts and flexibility and we’ll keep coming until they carry us out.”

Harrison resident Danielle Lazarakis said in the story booth, “As a mother of two young children, if I get 20 minutes, I come here. It’s something I do for me. It’s part of my life now.”

Members can continue to share stories with the Rye YMCA in person or by making an appointment with Denise Woodin (914-967-6363, ext. 101) or online at . The Rye YMCA is at 21 Locust Ave., Rye.

Here is a Rye Y Story by Betty as told to Fitness Center Director Ann Ivan during the project:

“I’ve been a member for 20 years. My kids are now adults, but they grew up in the YMCA. It’s a way of life for us. Whenever I’ve relocated, the first question for me is, ‘OK, where is the YMCA?’

I was called to the ministry. I thought I would retire as a school teacher but after 21 years, more and more people were telling me ‘You have a pastor’s heart.’  I did feel the calling stronger and stronger, and I decided to leave teaching and attend seminary. I became an ordained reverend and I have a very strong conviction about my work.

When I found the Rye YMCA, it was like a homecoming. When the Y opened its doors to the community after the hurricane, I told one of my colleagues, ‘This is a class act right here.’ That’s why I’m a member of the Y and I support the Strong Kids Campaign financially. I believe in the work of the YMCA to give back to our youth and seniors. They are a vulnerable population that needs the comfort, support and nurturing the Y provides. I have a very stressful vocation as the pastor of a large church in Mount Vernon. I really need time just for me. It’s not just about getting exercise, although of course that’s important. It feeds my spirit. The YMCA is a lifesaver for me.”

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