My Y Story – Vernon
Life after the military hasn’t been easy. After leaving the Army in 2014 I bounced around between school and work for years. Finally, after a series of intense forest fires in Southern Oregon I found myself nearly homeless as no one wanted to rent to a disabled veteran with a dog. That’s when my luck turned around. In 2020 a friend in Spokane invited me, and my dog, to rent his guest house. I was struggling with debt and a move didn’t help but I was happy to have a new home and ready to take on a new chapter in my life.
My friend is a regular at the South Spokane YMCA. He brought me in to sign up for a membership, but I didn’t think I could afford it. However, the staff worked with me to find a membership rate that would work for me. I was thrilled to become a South Y member. Through my struggles with health due to my time in the Army, the staff supported me and cheered me on. I felt like the YMCA was more of a home than any other gym I had been to. Everyone was super friendly and helpful.
After seeing they were having a hard time finding a reliable opener, I applied for the job even though I had just started a new job with Youth Educational Services as a primary care provider for autistic teens. I got the job! Being part of the staff at the Y, I got to see how the Y supports the community, not just its members and staff. I participated in a few Y-sponsored community outreach and activities like picking up trash downtown through the Y Togetherhood program, and the annual Fit For A Purpose fun-raiser, and helped with some group exercise classes.
What I love the most is seeing how we at the Y help the community and offer programs to create a place for everyone to feel welcome and engaged. Seeing the staff being so into helping each other and the community has inspired me to do the same and I enjoy dedicating myself to a great work environment. My PTSD seems easier to manage because of the support and love I see on a daily basis from my team and from members.