Relationships that matter

Mike and former co-worker Karen Mashinski, often walk or run together along Riverfront Park.

Thirty-Five years ago, in August 1978, Mike Davis walked in the front door of Millers Mutual Insurance as a new employee.  Shortly thereafter, Mike says he felt blessed when he walked out the back door and realized the proximity of the East Shore Branch YMCA. He has been making the trek across the parking lot daily since then.

Mike attributes his ability to cope with the recent tragedy of his wife’s death and the challenges of transitioning into retirement, in large measure, to the friends he has made at the Y.  He says, “My friends at the Y have helped me during the difficult times in my life. They have rallied around me and stayed close to support me.”

Mike was a city kid.  He grew up in Harrisburg, where he lived a half block from the local Boys Club.  He says he basically “lived there” from age six until he left for college, “coming home in time for dinner.”  His nascent interest in physical fitness and his love of sports and exercise developed at the Boys Club and continues as a member of the” Big Boys Club,” as he affectionately calls the Y.

Since youth, Mike’s social life has been intricately integrated with his fitness life.  “The people I work out with are also my friends,” he explains.  Of these friends, he says, “We share an interest in fitness, but we also share a purpose.”  Dedication to that purpose accounts for Mike’s extensive involvement in the Y: as a parent whose children learned to swim at the Y, as a board member, in a leadership role with the Harrisburg Mile, to his 20-year stint as a jump rope class instructor.

To explain just how much the YMCA was the hub of his non-family life, Mike is fond of relating his son’s youthful gaffe, who, when asked where his daddy worked, replied, “at the YMCA.”  Evidently the dinner conversation centered more on fitness and friendships and less on insurance.

Mike continues his schedule of daily visits to the East Shore Y as he makes the transition to retirement.  Maintaining daily contact with friends and continuing with a structured exercise program have been instrumental  in helping make a successful transition to retirement.

Mike especially relishes the diversity of the East Shore Branch’s membership.  “Gym clothes are the great equalizer” notes Mike.  “You can’t tell if a person is a judge or a legislator or a lawyer when they are in workout attire.”

Echoing Tim McGraw, Mike says his new goal in life is to “make the rest of my years the best years of my life.”  He is confident his involvement with the Y and the friendships he has developed, and continues to develop, will help him grasp that goal.

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