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The Gift of the YMCA: Ashley’s Story

The YMCA has had a major positive effect in my life over the past month. My life quickly changed due to unfortunate circumstances, and I found myself as a single parent of 3 young boys. I was lucky to find a great job that supports my future career as a teacher. I am also a full-time college student finishing up my degree. I have been a stay at home mother for several years, so making the adjustment to not only becoming a single mother, but also a working mother has been tough. I am so pleased that I made the decision to send my two little ones to the daycare at the Harrisburg YMCA. After visiting many other daycares in the area, when I left the tour with the YMCA daycare I knew that I needed to look no further. The entire staff at the center welcomed me in a way that I felt like I was being welcomed as family. I instantly felt comforted, and so did my children. When we got to the Preschool classroom where Frankie would attend, Ms. Mary Anne said to her children “Everyone say HI Frankie!”, followed by the most adorable chorus of “HIIIII FRANKIE!”, and then the huge smile on Frankie’s face solidified my decision that this was the perfect place for my children to spend their weekdays growing and learning.

My son Oliver requires some special needs. He has special bottles for feeding because he has cleft lip/palate, and he also has a rare genetic disorder called PKU that requires a very strict, special diet. I told both infant teachers about it and they were extremely receptive and caring. When I brought Oliver in for his first day of class, I also brought a packet of information about PKU. A few days later I asked Ms. Amanda (I hope that name is correct) if she had a chance to look at it. Not only did she tell me that she read it, but she also told me that she went home and researched PKU for herself. That meant so much to me as a mother, and it made me know that my little one was in good hands with someone who really cares.

Every day when I walk in through the YMCA doors, I am sure to be greeted with a smile, and 9/10 times someone offers me help! I even had an instance where another member bought Frankie a banana for .50 when I didn’t have my wallet. Also, to my pleasant surprise on a Tuesday morning I was greeted with a warm smile and a hug from my old high school guidance counselor who was working at the front desk!

The director of the daycare, Jess – as well as the financial advisor Pat have been wonderful to me during this tough time in my life. They answered what felt like thousands of questions I had ranging from financial concerns I had to what kinds of food I should pack for lunch. Jess met with me a few times, and even allowed me to bring my boys in to see the place before they started full time, when we did this- Frankie liked it so much he did not want to leave. On one particularly difficult day I came in with all 3 of my boys and Pat sat downstairs and helped me with some paperwork and questions while my children were not on their best behavior! The patience, and the loving attitudes I have encountered from the staff, and other members at the YMCA make me feel like I am at home every single day when I walk through those doors. I am so grateful for this place, and its consistency in a time in my life where that is so greatly needed for me and my children.

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