Y Stories

This page features stories from the YMCA of South Palm Beach County. Tell us your Y story!

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The high energy that Samer Salameh and his two boys, six year old, Oliver and seven year old, Michael exuberate as they walk into the Peter Blum Family Y undeniably tops just about everyone else! This dynamic family truly enjoys staying active – which is evident by their spirited presence and involvement at the Y. Since 2013, Samer and his family have continuously walked through the doors of the Peter Blum Family branch six days a week – even biking to the facility every Sunday as a family.

While most kids put their energy into just one activity at a time, the Salameh brothers love to be involved in everything and anything at the Y, ranging from youth soccer, to participants in the afterschool program, to karate and swim team. Last year, young Michael even won two medals as a Y swim team participant, including a first place medal for the 25 yard freestyle.

According to Samer, his boys have certainly taken what they have learned at the Y and applied it to their everyday lives at school and at home. While Oliver states he has learned a lot about responsibility, such as getting his homework done, Michael explains that he has learned to be more responsible for his actions. Both practice respect towards their counselors and fellow afterschool kids on a regular basis. “My favorite counselor is Mr. Damez, because he’s funny and a really good coach. He teaches us the core values of the Y,” shares seven year old Michael. When the Salameh boys aren’t attending afterschool during the school year, you can also find them at the Y’s summer camp.

According to Samer, “There is a sense of belonging here at the Y which is the best part of coming. I’ve met a lot of parents and have made a lot of friends here. We feel like we are with family and not just members. Everybody makes you feel it’s a sense of acceptance, whether you are good at sports or not. It’s a safe place.”PageDivider

Ashlynn Robes, a student at Olympic Heights High School, has been a member of the YMCA since she was in the second grade. She began volunteering three years ago as part of the Leaders in Training (LIT) program which teaches leadership skills to those involved and gives them the opportunity to become junior camp counselors during summer camp. According to Robes, she truly enjoys being an LIT because the kids look up to her and the role offers her the opportunity to teach the children games, sing songs, participate in science activities, and even create artwork. “It’s nice seeing each age group, because the children all have so many different personalities,” shares Robes.

After her first summer as an LIT, Ashlynn decided to become involved with the YMCA’s Leaders Club, which is a group of young individuals who strive to better their community through volunteering and hosting various events. In addition, through Leaders Club Robes has the opportunity to volunteer even more at the Y including events such as Halloween at the Y, Breakfast with Santa, Healthy Kid’s Day and more.  

In October, Robes and her fellow Leaders Club members decided they wanted to help raise money for the Annual Campaign and designate a portion of the funds to the National Parkinson’s Foundation Surf n’ Turf Program, which is hosted at the Y. Robes and her fellow Leaders Club members sought out to secure enough funds to purchase equipment needed for the program and so far have been able to successfully raise $1,100 (with the hopes of reaching their goal of $2,000).  

When Ashlynn isn’t busy studying at school, she says she spends most of her time volunteering at the Y. Recently her parents asked her if she wanted to try something new and volunteer elsewhere, but Robes insisted on staying with the Y. “I feel so comfortable here and enjoy spending my time volunteering with the Y – I could never see myself volunteering anywhere else!” 

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You can say ninety year old Jerry Adler is definitely a “Y guy”. He has been a member of YMCA for more than half of his life (60 years!). Before moving to Florida, Adler was a Y member in New York and was honored with a lifetime membership at the Manhattan Y. In September of 2011, Adler decided to come down to Boca Raton and that’s when he joined the Peter Blum Family Y.

Taking a peek into Jerry’s past, he attended college and soon after became one of the most successful Regional Salesmen for the Pony Shoe Company selling footwear and apparel. He retired years later and moved to Florida in order to be closer to his daughter and grandchildren (who also attend the Peter Blum Family Y whenever they are in town).     

Nearly everyone at the Y knows Jerry as he visits the facility seven days a week. According to Adler, “I’m comfortable here and I love the people. The Y has changed my life because I’ve made a lot of friends here and it’s given me a place to get up and go to in the morning.” Jerry stays active by riding the stationary bike and using the rowing and express machines in the Wellness Center, and he also enjoys swimming in the lap pool.   

Jerry shares that the Y staff, particularly Boca Membership Director, Joan Joens, has really helped motivate him throughout his journey here at the Y. (also floating quote:) “The Y is part of my lifestyle,” explains Adler, “I maintain my health simply by the fact that I come here.” 

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Miami Beach firefighter for 11 years, Joubert Dorleus, has been coming to the DeVos-Blum Family Y nearly every day with his family for the past three years. Everyone in the Dorleus family is an active Y member and can be seen all around the Boynton Beach Family Y; Joubert’s two young boys, Jovan and David, enjoy playing sports like basketball and soccer and they also attend the afterschool program, while his 14 year old daughter, Tanisha, swims for the Sea Dragons swim team. When Joubert and his wife, Vivian, aren’t jogging together on the field outside, Vivian likes shooting hoops in the gym with the kids, while Joubert can be found participating in boot camp style classes and even participates in the ‘Last Man Standing’ challenge every year.

Joubert states he enjoys having access to all of the various activities that the Y has to offer. According to Dorleus, “Whether it is going to the Wellness Center or for a jog on the field, or jumping in the pool, there is just so much to do at the YMCA!”

Before Joubert became a member, he and his wife had been looking for a safe place with a “family values” atmosphere. “The moment we walked into the Y, we immediately felt like part of the family. Everyone was so nice,” explains Dorleus. “I love the fact that the Y goes out of their way to help needed families who are less fortunate than I am.

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Through a special partnership with the YMCA of South Palm Beach County, the Schmidt Family YMCA Preschool at the Volen Center was founded in 2010, and it wasn’t long after when intergenerational programs began to develop, integrating the generations of seniors and children and producing some unique and heartening experiences.

“The mere sight of children brings the seniors to their feet,” explains Preschool Director, Beth Reyer. Whether participating in a dance gathering or exhibiting their creativity by painting together, seniors and children of the Volen Center tend to bring out the best in each other.

On Mondays at the Volen Center, preschoolers and seniors come together and draw out each other’s creative side by painting pictures, while on Fridays they all join in the auditorium to enjoy music and dancing. These intergenerational programs and social activities actually stimulate learning, allowing the different generations to learn from one another. Seniors are able to expand their social networks and stay physically active, which creates a positive impact on their health, while children also benefit by developing their social networks and communication skills.  

“It’s wonderful, the old with the young. You get to learn from them. It’s a really good idea,” expresses Edith, a senior who attends the Life Enrichment Program at the Volen Center. 

Studies actually show that adults with dementia or other cognitive impairments experience more positive effects during interactions with children than they do during non-intergenerational activities (according to the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias). As well, interacting with older adults enables youth to develop their social networks, problem-solving abilities, communication skills, and positive attitudes towards aging, as well as offer them a sense of purpose and community service (according to the Corporation for National and Community Service).

Being a place that brings meaning, inspiration and memories to everyday life, the Volen Center has certainly become a place where the Arts connect several generations. Simply stated by Paula, a senior who attends the Life Enrichment Program at the Volen Center and participates in intergenerational activities, “I love it. I love children and I think they teach us as much as we can teach them.”

For more information regarding the Schmidt Family YMCA Preschool at the Volen Center, please contact Preschool Director, Beth Reyer at breyer@ymcaspbc.org or 561-395-8920 ext.296.PageDivider

Thirteen year old ‘Yaya’ (real name Ya Tenneng Taal) is one of the youngest teens in Leaders Club at the Peter Blum Family YMCA. She started as a Y camper at age 9 and eventually made the decision to join Leaders Club last year, which is a group of young individuals who strive to better their community through volunteering and hosting various events. Since joining this group, Yaya has donated her time volunteering at the Y’s annual Halloween event, Breakfast with Santa, Healthy Kid’s Day® and more!

Just last summer, Yaya became part of the Leaders in Training (LIT) program at the Y which teaches leadership skills and gives children the opportunity to become junior camp counselors throughout the summer. According to Yaya, she enjoys being an LIT because she has the ability to help children with various activities and teach them new things. She states she has even helped coach different routines to the kids in the Performance Arts Program, but one of her favorite things to do at camp is teach kids how to sing camp songs.

Yaya has many aspirations for herself when she grows up – she is interested in becoming a vet, chef, dancer, soccer player AND a Special Education teacher! “I love working with special needs children and being able to teach them new things each time I walk into the Y,” Yaya explains.

Although just thirteen, Yaya isn’t slowing down anytime soon as she is constantly looking for new ways to help others around her and says she “is determined” to eventually have a career that does just that!

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You can add “Photography” to the list as a volunteering option at the YMCA – and Tess Mongon, Y member and owner of Tess Ann Photography, can share all about that with you! Tess has generously donated her time and talents taking photos at various Y events, resulting in fantastic pictures for display in the media, online and in and around the YMCA. Tess first volunteered for the Y taking photos at last year’s Annual Campaign kick-off event in Delray Beach. Following that, she volunteered her time at the Y’s Annual Campaign wrap-up party, Halloween at the Y, the 14th Annual Inspiration Breakfast, and just this past Healthy Kids Day®!

“The Y has such a family and community spirit that my family feels at home here. Why not help out and volunteer?  I get to attend fun events and capture the Y spirit for you all to see! Volunteering at the YMCA has given my work a deeper meaning and has introduced me to some amazing people,” explains Mongon.  

According to Tess, the Y has also introduced her and her family to many wonderful friends, classes and community events. When she’s not taking terrific photos, Tess enjoys bringing her toddler, Ronan, to Miss Katie’s class at the DeVos-Blum Family Y. “We swim with other families and workout with great people, trainers and instructors. The YMCA has brought my family much closer to the community. Volunteering makes me better understand my community and I can’t imagine not being a part of this amazing organization. I look forward to watching my child grow up with the Y in his life,” proudly states Mongon. 

So next time you see this smiling Y member behind her camera at a Y event, don’t hesitate to stop by and say hello! And thank you for being a Y member and a fantastic volunteer, Tess!PageDivider

If you happen to see two young girls scurrying from one activity to the next in the DeVos-Blum Family Y, they are most likely Morgan and Aubrey Hiller. Parents, Bonnie and John, have been members with their daughters Morgan, 10 and Aubrey, seven, for the past nine years and all have become actively involved in many Y programs since they initially joined in 2007.

The Hiller children have grown into maintaining busy routines at the YMCA. After a full day of school, Morgan and Aubrey participate in the Y’s afterschool program, socializing and making friends with kids across all age groups and schools. A little while later, YMCA Personal Trainer, Kevin Morgan drops by to bring them to their Sea Dragon Swim Team “dry land workout” prior to attending their in-water practice with the team.

Speaking of water, both Hiller girls have participated in the Y’s aquatics program since a very young age – so it was only natural for the girls to make the transition to becoming part of the swim team. Now they attend practice in the very pool that they learned to swim in. Their mom, Bonnie, has even become involved as a “Pac Parent” leader for the past two years and has helped fundraise for the team and assist in swim meets.

Aside from diving in the pool, the girls also stay active by participating in weekly Kids Zumba and karate classes, and they even ran in the Abi Kattel 5k race back in January. But it is not just the Hiller girls who get a fair share of Y activities. As a fan of group fitness classes, their father, John, makes a presence at Boot camp on Tuesday and Thursday nights and he says he “rarely misses a class”.

Aside from all of the physical activity the Hiller family gets at the Y, they also make great strides in generously supporting the organization. From John’s company, Allstate®, sponsoring the annual Halloween event in October, to assisting in the Y Annual Campaign which even the girls got involved in by making “Rainbow loom” bracelets in order to raise money, the YMCA is truly grateful for the family’s support and contributions.

Preschool Director at the DeVos-Blum Family Y, Donn Angus, speaks volumes of the Hiller family, “They are a true Y family and are involved in all aspects of our facility and programs. They exemplify YMCA values and demonstrate these values on a daily basis in all areas of their lives.”

Thank you Hiller family for allowing the Y to become a place of home! 

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The Leffert Family is one of a kind at the DeVos-Blum Family Y. Not only have they been members for two years now, but they are also prestigious volunteers. Last year during the Y’s Annual Campaign, The Leffert’s raised close to $600 from family and friends on the Preschool team. Susan Leffert enjoys the Y Fit class with Tracy and has even informed them about the charitable side of the Y that many people do not know about. Susan has even connected the Y recently with the new Boynton Beach Chick fil a manager and supported our 17th Annual Charity Golf Classic as a lunch sponsor.   

Back to being a part of the Y, The Leffert family never seems to miss an opportunity to attend a Y hosted event. According to seven year old Will who is in the Y’s after school program and previously played in the soccer league, he loves going to Halloween at they each year as well as the Easter Egg Hunt. His younger brother, five year old Owen, also enjoys these same Y events.

The family collectively has attended other Y family events such as the Y’s Jingle Jog around Christmas time. The Leffert Boys also participate in the Color Run during the Y’s Annual Healthy Kids Day which advocates for healthy living all summer long!

“The Leffert family is a true Y family. Their children are kind and respectful, and mom and dad always have a smile for us,” exclaims Keri DeBowes, Director of Youth Development at the DeVos-Blum Family Y.

It seems like this Y family isn’t slowing down any time soon and are continuing to make an impact in the lives of other Y members and volunteers. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for the Y!

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Joyce Chapman is not your typical Y member, she is also a volunteer. Her story begins after joining the Peter Blum Family Y in January of 2015 in order to take semi-private swim lessons with her sister. Chapman admits, “I didn’t know how to swim before walking into the Y. At 67 years old, I joined so I could take lessons with my sister.” Not only did Chapman learn how to swim after six lessons, but she also lost 15 lbs.

Currently, she visits the Y three days a week to practice her swimming skills, attend the Silverfit Aerobics class and to also to volunteer with the after school children. Chapman is a retired teacher who didn’t even think about the Y being a place to volunteer until she received one of the “Around the Y” bi-weekly emails which talked about the Y looking for volunteers. 

Being a retired second grade teacher from St. Joan of Arc Catholic School for 30 years, Joyce knew she wasn’t done helping children learn, and found the opportunity to volunteer with second and third grade children here at the Y. Right after Joyce filled out the application, she immediately received a call back to come in during the after school program to help children with their homework a few times a week.

“Working with ‘my kids’ after school at the Y and knowing how much I have helped them also makes me realize how much they have enriched my life. It’s a total win-win situation and I look forward to returning in the fall to help with homework once again,” states Joyce.

Director of Youth Development at the Peter Blum Family Y, Jenna Lawrence, exclaims, “We were blessed to have Joyce Chapman join our Afterschool program as a homework volunteer during the 2015-2016 school year. With homework becoming more difficult for children each year, Joyce is a great help to both the kids and the counselors who very much look forward to seeing her every week!”

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Efua Ramdeen and her family are certainly not amateurs when it comes to staying healthy. Both Efua and her husband, Jason, use the Peter Blum Family Y on a consistent basis, exercising and training for triathlons. According to Efua, “we were looking for a place close to home, convenient with multiple amenities such as a pool and childcare for our two year old. I came in for a tour, met the staff and other members, and was introduced to various child activities and group classes. It was then when I knew the Y was a perfect fit for our family.”

Ramdeen claims her family has visited the Y almost every day since joining last summer. While Jason enjoys swimming in the early morning hours, Efua keeps herself busy with challenging group exercise classes, including Barre and Strength & Pilates. Sometimes the couple even trains together in the pool and claims after a good workout they like to pick their son from Child Watch so they can all swim together as a family. “We can’t do that anywhere else!” Efua exclaims.

According to Ramdeen, the Y has been extremely helpful in keeping her family healthy while juggling careers and a two-year-old’s schedule. “It’s great because we literally have no excuse not to get a workout in,” she explains. Efua has also created new friendships with other Y members and says she’s even become closer with their neighbors who she also referred as members.  

“In addition to staying healthy, the Y has been a tremendous help to my family simply by caring for our most prized possession – our son,” states Efua. “I just love how dedicated and caring the childcare team is, and I have complete trust that when I drop him off he is safe and attended to. I encourage all of my mom friends to join the Y – having the childcare alone is reason enough to join!”

We are so happy to have the Ramdeen family as members of our Y!

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Ed Mullen, his wife, Gail, and their two boys, Patrick and Gregory, were among the first families to ever join the DeVos-Blum Family Y in 2001. From the beginning, Ed jumped right in and became very involved with the Y, volunteering as a coach and managing the Y’s basketball league. Sparked by the fact that his boys were heavily involved in sports, Ed proposed an idea to the Executive Director to start up a basketball league for middle and high school-aged kids. Soon after, this idea became a reality. The league started off with just nine kids but eventually increased to more than 250. Ed proudly reports, “I’ve coached well over 1,000 games at the YMCA!”

When asked how he grew the program, Ed explains, “I helped get people to join the basketball league simply by word of mouth and handing out flyers. I also spoke to the athletic directors I knew at various schools in the area. Once the kids found out about it, they thought the Y was a good place to be and the league just started growing.” After finding success with the basketball league, Ed eventually helped begin the first baseball and soccer league at the Y as well.

Because of Ed and his family’s strong involvement with the Y, they were named ‘Family of the Year’ in 2001 and even had a street sign named after them on the DeVos-Blum Y property for a year.

Nowadays when he’s not coaching, you can find Ed running on the treadmill or using various weight machines in the Wellness area. He also continues to participate in the adult sports league and states that many of the young kids he used to coach are now grown up and playing in the same league with him.      

“The four core values of the YMCA (caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility) have been instilled in me and my family for life. Being members of the Y has been a great experience for both me and my family,” says Mullen. “After all these years, the YMCA continues to be a strong part of my life, and I hope always will be.”

We hope so too, Ed!PageDivider

A message from a 2016 Summer Camp parent

“I just want to say thank you to all the summer camp Directors and counselors. It is only day two and my girls are having a fantastic time. Today I had to pick them up early because I have a second job and I couldn’t pick them up by six. They did not want to leave so I had to ask a coworker to sign them out at six and bring them to her desk! You have no idea how this makes a parent feel. My children are my world and I know they’re in good hands and loved by every employee at the YMCA! I would also like to thank James for calling me today because my daughter forgot her lunch box. He gave her a dollar to buy something from the vending machine for before I could bring her lunch box. I am an employee of the YMCA and I am proud of it! I am also proud to work with all of you and to see what you do with these kids first hand! Thank you for taking such great care of my girls because they are my everything!”

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Carli’s Y Story

 

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Y Teen Leader’s Give For a Better Us.

Y Teen Leader’s Give For a Better Us by raising donations for the National Parkinson’s Foundation Surf n’ Turf Program at the YMCA for the 2015 Annual Campaign.

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A message from the Leffert Family

August 2015

Good morning,

I wanted to take the time to compliment the amazing team that served at summer camp. Ms. Keri and her leaders did a great job at making camp safe and fun. My son, Will had such a great time and I felt confident that he was well cared for. I really appreciate their hard work!

My youngest son is in the pre-school with Ms. Donna and the same can be said about her group of teachers. He loves it and always comes home with something exciting to share.

We stumbled into the YMCA last year just looking at sports and found great opportunities for our boys.

Thank you!

Susan Leffert

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A message from the Cruz Family

August 2015

Dear Bryan,

I wanted to take a moment to say “Thank You” to you and your incredible team for an amazing Summer at the YMCA! This has been my first “Y” experience since when I was a child taking swimming lessons and visiting my Aunt who has worked at the YMCA in our hometown for more than 30 years.  As a family, this has been our first ever YMCA experience. We were so pleased with Summer Camp… pleased to see Karina come home so incredibly happy… singing different songs, speaking of new experiences, sharing such a sense of enthusiasm. To be honest, I’m about as emotional as she is right now. We have a very difficult time when it comes to parting ways, almost as if we are in mourning! Speaking of, we can’t speak highly enough of Mr. James (thus Karina’s mourning). His passion is contagious! He is so readily available to those kids, at least in our case attending to any and every need Karina has.. whether it be finding Karina a bag to put her earring in when the back fell off, getting ice for her if she fell and hurt her knee…. you name it, he’s been there. I will say Mr. James is a HUGE component of what will bring us back to the YMCA next Summer…. Just be sure to hold onto him! We will see you throughout the school year on some of the days school is closed. Thank You, again, Bryan and staff!

Sincerely,

Kristen, James, and Karina Cruz

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Healing Parkinson’s Disease Naturally

Jack Mueller has been a member of the Parkinson’s Group since 2007 and was one of the first. How he currently suffers from Parkinson’s disease, you could never tell. Jack participates in the National Parkinson Foundation’s Surf and Turf class hosted at the Peter Blum Family Y, which allows those with Parkinson’s disease or other chronic motion disease disorders to receive physical therapy through a 45-minute land based course followed by a 45-minute pool exercise.

Since the start of the program in 2007, attendance of the class has amplified. Starting off with nine people, the class now has about 35 attendees on a regular basis and 90 overall who have signed up. The participants tell us that the class teaches balance, coordination, strength, agility, endurance, flexibility, and independence. The program allows participants to look forward to a social and physical experience. Long-time class attendee, Jack explains the importance of the class and how it is impacted his life. “I have Parkinson’s but Parkinson’s doesn’t have me!”

While the participants are engaging in the class, their spouse or caregiver is down the hall in a support group learning about the disease overall and sharing their concerns. Jack explains that there have certainly been improvements with each participant. For example, he was only able to complete 19 arm curls in the beginning and he can now do 33. Other participants have improved their abilities with every movement that they have practiced. “This family . . . has an attitude to progress and get better.”

To find out more information on the National Parkinson’s Foundation’s Surf and Turf class at the YMCA, contact the Peter Blum family Y at 561-395-9622 and the DeVos Blum family Y at 561-738-9622. *Must become National Parkinson’s Foundation member after first free trial class.

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The Y – Impacting Kids and Parents

For Anwaar James, his son’s desire to play sports at the YMCA turned into so much more. Originally from Trinidad, he joined our Y family after his son asked to join flag football. When Anwaar found out the season’s roster was full, he reached out to Andy Hood, our Senior Program Director of Membership, Wellness & Sports.


Together they hatched a plan to bring both Anwaar and his son on the team – dad as the coach and son as a team player. Three years later he is still a valued part of our organization and would encourage others to join him, “The Y is the best thing that has happened to me and my family,” he said.

Anwaar appreciates the positive impact that the organization has had on his life. “I discovered something about myself,” he said, “being a coach to my group of kids teaches them not only the skill of the game, but also makes them feel they have a mentor and support system outside of their own homes.”

He credits his time as a volunteer for giving him a sense of fulfillment and happiness, and plans to be part of the DeVos-Blum Family YMCA for a long time.

Thank you Anwaar for your story and dedication to youth development through sports.

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Strong Swimmers, Confident Kids

Meet Vanessa Miller, a mother of two and a proud member at the DeVos-Blum Family YMCA since 2007. You can find her in the mornings at the Y taking Body Sculpt, Spin and Kickboxing classes. While she workouts, her youngest daughter does arts and crafts in the playroom with her “second mother,” Ms. Elvia Granadeno, YMCA Child Watch caregiver.$RNWAH78

“I love the classes, they are amazing!” explained Miller. “I know all the instructors and the playroom is the safest place, other than a mother’s arms, to leave your kids.”

Although she has a great time throwing hooks and punches in her group exercise classes, some of her most valued moments at the Y have been with her daughters Nicole, 6, and Rachel, 3.

Miller signed up her daughters for “Mommy and Me” swim lessons, where they learned safe water exploration and proper techniques. The class helped her daughters connect with the water to build confidence and help them overcome their fears.

The program was so successful, Miller decided to enroll her daughters for private swim lessons.

Thanks to the help of the swim instructors, her youngest daughter was 2 ½ years old when she started swimming. It took her less than 3 months to start swimming on her own.

“It was amazing to see this little tiny thing swim side to side across the pool,” said Miller.

Other than her great experience with the YMCA swimming programs, Miller is so appreciative of the staff in childcare.

She remembers the first time she dropped off her oldest daughter in the playroom.

“I was so happy the first time I left her and she didn’t cry,” said Miller. “[The instructors] are so patient with the kids. She was in a very safe place, and it’s nice to be able to trust someone else with your child; it’s amazing.”

The Y has made an impact on Miller’s life and family. Most of her friends are current Y members, which she calls her “second family.”

“It’s nice to have a place where you feel like you belong.” 

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A Home Away from Home – Savanna Luberto

The YMCA is dedicated to shaping the lives and hearts of our members and families. Savanna Luberto’s story is no different.

Today, just months away from graduating Barry University, Luberto says she couldn’t have done it without the DeVos-Blum YMCA in Boynton Beach.

“I would not be graduating if it wasn’t for the Y,” said Luberto. “All my happy memories happened there.”

Luberto was 10 years old, living with her grandmother when she was first introduced to the Y.

“I really didn’t have a family. I had my grandma, but she was a bit older. I was a troublemaker, but one director [in particular really mentored] me,” said Luberto.

One of her favorite memories at the Y happened on her 13th birthday while she was in sports camp.

“I was sitting with the groups against the wall and all the counselors went to the middle of the gym and said ‘we have a birthday.’ Everyone had cupcakes in their hands, sang happy birthday, then all I saw was a green light… and it happened to be frosting,” said Luberto. “I was head-to-toe in cupcakes.”

Luberto is graduating in the spring with a bachelor in Social Work. Her dream job would be working for the Y and giving another kid a second chance and a second family.

“I will always remember what they did for me at the Y. I want to become a director and do what was done for me. They gave me a family; everything I need at the time. I will always be thankful for them,” said Luberto. “I hope I can make them proud. I know what happened for me at the Y was really special.”

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Meet Taylor Lucas – Volunteer Extraordinaire!


Taylor Lucas is just months away from graduating FAU with a bachelor in Psychology, but when she’s not in school studying, she’s at the Y volunteering at After School Care.

“My passion for volunteering began over ten years ago with the Toys for Tots movement,” said Lucas, “It’s a big part of my life.”

She got her first dose of the Y in August when she volunteered “Parents Night Out,” a program where parents drop their kids off at the Y while they have a night out on the town.

She played games, did arts and crafts, and fell in love.

“The YMCA in Boca Raton has provided me with an amazing experience in such a short time.”

Lucas has so many memories working with the kids. From the time they played with water balloons, to all the times the kids got excited to see her, screaming and shouting her name; “Miss Taylor!”

“It’s fun having that connection with the kids,” she said.

Along with volunteering at the Y, Lucas went door-to-door at the FAU dorms asking her fellow students to donate $1 to raise money for the Annual Community Support Campaign. As a campaigner, she helped raise money to support financial assistance to families in need so they too can enjoy everything the Y has to offer.

Volunteering at the Y has helped Lucas gain experience she can apply to her future.

“It has been amazing to watch all of the children grow in the program,” added Lucas. “It’s that moment of clarity, that this is what I want to do. The YMCA has offered me amazing learning experiences in such a short amount of time and I am eager to see what the future has in store!”

After she graduates, she hopes to work for the Y or with troubled youth to help them get back on the right track.

“I’ve learned so much about non-profits, what goes into running a non-profit, and what it means to be a true YMCA member. The Boca Branch has offered me so much and I hope to make an impact on the Y community. To be given the opportunity to volunteer I am very thankful and glad that there is such a program in place.”

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Meet Donald Olsen

Click here to read the story Donald shared with us about his experience at the YMCA.