Your YMCA … a place where lives are changed!

Published 8:39 am Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Editor’s Note: This column is written by Emory Smith, a YMCA staff member.

When asked to describe the YMCA, people will often say that it is a fitness center, a child care facility, a place for youth sports or a place to learn to swim. While all this describes some of the things the YMCA does, it does not begin to describe what the YMCA is! The YMCA is a place that affects lives. Over the next few weeks, this column will include stories of people whose lives have been affected by being a part of the Bainbridge-Decatur County YMCA.

About a year ago, a single mom working one full-time job and two part-time jobs came to the Y in tears. She had just been called by the principal of her son’s school regarding his poor grades and disruptive behavior. He was being disruptive in class, clashing with his classmates and his grades in all subjects were on a steady decline. His reading score was three grades below grade level. When pushed for an explanation for his behavior, he finally admitted that his classmates would make fun of him when he was called upon to read in class.

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For the next five months, YMCA staff member Jimmy Holton met every day with the student to help him complete his homework and go over his reading assignments. By the end of the year, the student was on reading level and made the Honor Roll for the first time in his life. Jimmy encouraged the student to go out for YMCA soccer. At first, the student balked because none of his friends played soccer — they all played basketball. But, he did join the team, and became one of the stars on the team.

One night a few weeks ago, Jimmy posted this story on Facebook and ended the story by explaining how he wanted to build a computer lab for this student and others like him. He explained that many homework assignments today are online … and many students still do not have computers at home. He asked his friends for help.

Within four days, he received more than $1,100 in donations. And, a week ago, one of his friends drove from Tallahassee and delivered three computers, a scanner, printers and educational software. Another friend in California sent three brand new computers. Other friends donated carpet and paint for the homework lab.

This amazing project will be finished by the end of November to give these students the Internet access they need to become better students. The computers will have educational software, access to educational sites, and will have restrictive filters to assure that students do not have access to harmful sites.

This story is just one of many of how lives are affected by the YMCA and how those who support the YMCA are a part of an organization that makes our community a better place.

Emory Smith is a staff member at the Bainbridge-Decatur County YMCA. He can be reached at (229) 243-0508.