As Michelle Morales looks back over the past 17 years, she sees a life filled with energy, love, a blended family with six children and a busy and varied career at her local YMCA. If she could do it all over again, would she do it any other way? Not likely.
“My kids grew up at the Y,” she says. “They attended camp, they learned to swim, they played basketball and volleyball. Through it all, I worked the afterschool program, then day camp, and then I became the day camp director, which I did for eight years.”
She’s worked part time and full time, taken a break, and had a few babies along the way.
“Working at the Y is an easy solution close to home and I love that my family gets to be part of it,” Morales says. As Welcome Center Supervisor at Downriver Family YMCA, her job is to greet members as they arrive to exercise and socialize.
“I talk to our members and listen to them. They come in to do classes and are looking for people to talk to. I get to talk to adults, which is always nice! My job is very social.”
What your local Y has to offer
Your local YMCA is so much more than a gym. It’s a community of employees and members who want to help you and your family be successful, Morales says.
Getting to know your local Y is easy with a family membership. “There is a financial cost to membership, but at the end of the day, what will you pay to invest in your own family? You can’t put a cost on the importance of the time you spend with your family — or even what your kids get to do at the Y,” she says.
At $86 a month, a YMCA family membership is a great deal — and it’s an ideal way to get to know your local community and discover new opportunities. Whether that’s wellness, friendship, a family-friendly job or just swimming lessons for your children, the potential is limitless — and the Y is always a trusted place where your family can be active together or separately.
“At 13, my kids can come into the building on their own and I’d much rather them be at the Y with their friends than anywhere else,” she says.
Morales’ advice is just get involved. “Just do it,” she says. “As a society we put so much stress on making the right decision. Investing in a family membership at the Y is doing something positive for your family.”
The benefits of a YMCA family membership can be significant, like they have been for Morales. “My son has played basketball at the Y since he was little and that propelled his passion for sports even further,” she says, adding that this fall, he will enter college on a baseball scholarship. She expects her daughter will leverage her volleyball skills — also gained at the Y — to do the same. Through the Y’s summer day camp’s core values, her children have learned how to interact with people from all different backgrounds, a priceless skill for lifelong success.
Morales says she has thrived, too, and watched her own appreciation for her community grow.
“When I started, I was just a 21-year-old mom who didn’t really think about community,” she says. “But the Y has made me realize how important community is. And, I realize my career doesn’t have to be boring or something I dread going to. I genuinely love my job. I have fun here and it’s truly like I am at home.”