By Kresha Schwarz
Member Associate, Orthman Community YMCA
If you would have told me seven years ago that this is what my life would look like, I would have told you that you had lost your marbles. Yet, here I am living a different life than I had originally planned. Life has a way of making unexpected twists and turns that lead us right where we are supposed to be.
After graduating from college and getting married, I expected to be using my degree in ministry and living happily ever after. And that is what happened, for a little while. At the end of 2015, I started working for the YMCA as a part-time building monitor. When I first started this job, I had no idea what it would come to mean to me.
After 5 years of marriage, two precious babies, several moves, and different job positions, my life took an unexpected turn with a divorce. Divorce is something that most people will tell you is not on their list of things to do, but it happens. No matter who you are or what your situation is, divorce is never an easy thing to go through. I was broken, angry, hurt, and disappointed that this was where my life had ended up. Most days I didn’t want to get out of bed, let alone go to work, but I had people who counted on me to show up in life, and I didn’t want to let them down.
So, I showed up to work at the front desk of the YMCA. I plastered a fake smile on my face and willed myself to get through the day. It was draining and took a toll on me. Most of the time, I was able to leave home stuff at home and just focus on the work, but some days I couldn’t fool anyone. I decided that I would do something for myself, something that would be a step in the right direction to healing.
I started counseling in 2019, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The best thing about it is that I had bosses at the YMCA who supported that decision. They worked with my schedule so that I could go. Day by day, little by little, my life started to get better. I started making the positive changes I needed to make. I started waking up and was excited to go in to work because of the people I got to see every day. The small support system that I made through work made a drastic impact on who I am today. They never gave up on me in my darkest moments and always pushed me to be the best version of myself.
Every year, we have an all-staff meeting at the Y. During the meeting, Riley always shares a motivational video. This year, he shared one on teamwork and the importance of a team working together. After the video, he asked each of us to share what that means to us or what makes us want to work at the Y. As I sat and listened to others share, I looked back on the last seven years of my life and thought of all the times that the team I work with showed up for me and made a positive impact on my life. Riley and Amy always challenged me to do things outside of my comfort zone and things that will help me grow, not only in my position at the Y but as a person. I have enjoyed the laughs we share as a group and the constructive criticism we share and the constant character-building tasks.
It’s not just a team. The people I work with at the YMCA have become my family.