When Micki White started working at the Don Sjogren Community YMCA a year ago, it was just going to be for a few hours a week.
That part-time job turned into a full-time job this past month as she accepted more duties supervising the front desk staff and teaching many new Y classes, including youth and adult photography, cooking camp and now Creative and Crafty Adults.
Micki embodies the spirit of the Y by realizing that it’s not just about the exercise, and she’s doing her part to help Y members gain a sense of community and connection.
She enjoys the Y career because it’s different each day.
“You never know what’s going to arise and someone will need help,” she said. “There’s always a challenge each day. You just maybe don’t know what it is until it shows up.”
It seems like the perfect match for the young mother who is now rebuilding her life after losing her husband, Justin, just three years ago to cancer.
Justin was diagnosed with leukemia in November of 2013 and died just 32 days after his diagnosis. It was an unimaginable and sudden loss for Micki and her two sons, Jonah and Ridley, who were just 5 and 3 at the time.
Shortly after Justin’s death, Micki quit her job at BD to earn a degree to work as a patient care coordinator. Her studies got put on the back-burner after she needed to take more time to help her boys as their grieving process continued.
That’s when she sought the “part-time” job at the Y.
Soon, Micki was asked to do more at the Y. She worked in Child Watch and then at the front desk and after-school program.
Like many YMCA employees, Micki’s increased involvement at work led to her being more comfortable with exercise. She was encouraged by co-workers to lift weights and attend group exercise classes. She realized her previous fears about exercising at the Y were unfounded.
“I would have never signed up for a step aerobics class or a water class before,” she said. “Before, there was always that intimidation to go upstairs.” But, now she realizes that “nobody cares at all what you wear or what you look like.”
As Micki became more involved in the Y, her creativity couldn’t be contained.
Micki decided to share her photography hobby with kids last spring in the Y’s first youth photography class. Then, when a new chef and organizer was needed for the YMCA Kids Café free lunch program, she agreed to fill the role. She then found herself teaching 21 kids how to cook in a summer kids cooking camp.
This fall, Micki married her new husband, Dale White, and then started her full-time work at the Y. In addition to working more hours at the front desk, Micki will teach adults about photography and will share her crafting talents in Creative and Crafty Adults, where participants will make string art, a birthday sign and stocking holders.
Micki said Creative & Craft Adults isn’t just about crafting. She remembers the lonely nights after Justin died and just needing some adult conversation.
“You can be creative and chit chat and who knows what kind of bond will come out of that,” she said of her new class.
She wants to encourage Y members to step outside their comfort zones and try new programs at the Y.
“I just hope people know it’s OK to try new things,” she said. “Whether it’s exercise or photography or a craft, it’s just an out. You don’t have to be the best. It’s just fun.”