Finding Community at the Orthman ‘Community’ YMCA

By Daniel Holbrook
Sports Director
Orthman Community YMCA

When I was first offered the opportunity to work at the Orthman Community YMCA, my initial intrigue was because of the job “description” of a Sports Coordinator.

Sports, health and physical activity have always been a prominent part of my life growing up. That is what prompted me to study to be a Physical Education & Health Educator at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. After I graduated college, I did not immediately get a job as a P.E. teacher, so when I was offered a job as a Sports Coordinator at the Y, I thought this was the next best thing that would still give me opportunities to work with kids and be involved with sports. Well, I wasn’t wrong. However, I quickly began to realize that working for the YMCA was so much more than I ever could have imagined.

Yes, my job title and description do provide a glimpse into what I do at the Y, but beyond the day-to-day work, there’s something else present. It’s not necessarily something tangible. It’s not necessarily measurable. However, it’s the one thing that constantly comes to my mind when I think about the role that I play on the YMCA team. Fittingly enough, this “thing” resides in the name of my YMCA: community.

The Orthman Community YMCA has lived up to its name as a whole, but it has specifically for me in my life and my job. I would describe myself generally as a reserved, sometimes even introverted person. However, those who know me best would probably say I’m the complete opposite. I believe the point is: when I allow myself to open up to someone, or something, there is the opportunity for connection; the opportunity for community.

The YMCA has given me that chance to open up to those around me. It all starts with the team of directors that I have the joy of being able to work alongside every day. Again, if I’m being honest, they naturally started as “coworkers.” But over time, our relationships have been able to become friendships (it does help that one of them is my sister). The community that we’ve been able to build within the Y has the strongest foundation of any team I have ever been a part of. However, what makes this community so important to me is that it reaches beyond the walls of a building, and beyond just those who I get to come in contact with daily.

The reason that I love the YMCA so much is because of the sense of community that it brings to the community that it dwells in. I can make connections with hundreds of children through the many programs that we offer, and also many of their parents and families. These interactions and experiences haven’t just solidified this feeling of community, but they have truly taught me many valuable lessons about my job and myself.

The Y has blessed not just me, but my wife and my family, in numerous ways. To top it all off, being a man of faith who loves God, and working for an organization with Christian standards, allows me to strive personally to live by those standards, as well as try to help others to live by a greater standard as well. To me, that is true community.

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