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United Way community partner spotlight − YMCA

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Scholarship program helps family get on their feet.

By Arin McKenna

The ultimate goal of United Way of Northern New Mexico (UWNNM) is to positively impact members of the community who are in need of assistance. UWNNM does not do that directly but through grants it provides to community partners to fund programs focused on education, financial stability and health.
But sometimes, through its partners, UWNNM hears individual stories about how programs funded through community donations to United Way have made a difference in someone’s life.
One such story came from “Kathy” (a pseudonym to protect privacy), whose family that received assistance through the YMCA scholarship program.
“The YMCA provides scholarships for families that otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate in programs that they offer,” said UWNNM Program and Marketing Coordinator Jeremy Varela.
“This particular story about the YMCA had to do with domestic violence as well, and how a family had to start from scratch, basically. Some people find their help within families or whatever. These particular people actually found their help within YMCA. They were able to get back on their feet through the YMCA’s help.
“I would never expect somebody to get that kind of help from the YMCA and their programs.”
This is Kathy’s story in her own words.
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“My family and I are very grateful for the financial assistance that we have received and continue to receive from the Los Alamos Family YMCA. Without this scholarship assistance, this last 18 months would have been much harder to bear for both me and my children.
“We experienced a horrible family trauma and tragedy which left us all emotionally, mentally and financially devastated. Because of acts of horrific domestic violence and abuse, we had to leave our home and all of our belongings behind and had to start over from scratch with basically nothing.
“The Los Alamos Family YMCA has been somewhat of a life-saver and lifeline for every member of our family. Through the Y I had the opportunity to meet some wonderful people and was able to make some connections and get help finding employment that has allowed me to return to the workforce after spending over 12 years as a stay-at-home parent. And that employment is all I have to support my family.
“My children have been very damaged by what has occurred in our lives and being able to attend the Y Summer Camp program, as well as other programs offered at the Y, has assisted in their ability to start the healing process and try and rebuild and reclaim our lives.
“I cannot stress enough how wonderful it has been to know and experience all that the Los Alamos Family YMCA has to offer. We enjoy being able to use the facility when we have time and would like to be able to attend more classes and use the facility as much as possible in the near future.
“The YMCA offered employment to my young adult daughter. This job has gone a long way in helping my daughter restore her self-esteem, self-confidence and feelings of accomplishment for a job well-done. This will help in her long term goals of going forward to finish her college education, find a career that she enjoys and have a successful life going forward as an independent adult.
“These experiences and opportunities have been invaluable to me and my family. I cannot express my ongoing gratitude and appreciation enough. Thank you for everything you do for the community and also for me and my family. We look forward to being members of the Los Alamos Family YMCA for a long time and hope to be able to have the opportunity to be able to give back in kind.” – A Mother
“P.S. One more important note: My children and I also were the recipients of a very generous “Adopt-a-Family” amount of gifts and gift cards from the Los Alamos Family YMCA this last Christmas (2014). I had written a card/note of Thanks but somehow in the chaos it never was delivered to the Y shortly after the holidays as I had intended.
“I had wanted to thank all of those people who were so kind to me and my children. Without these gifts we would not have had such a lovely Christmas. It is very challenging for me on my limited income and resources to be able provide gifts for my children, both my young sons and adult daughter and my adult son who lives in another state.
“I’d like to thank all of those and the Y for that generosity which touched my heart and made me believe, once again, in the overall goodness in people. You can never know how much that helped to know that strangers were so kind and caring. I can never thank you enough.”