Y Impact Stories

As a leading nonprofit partner throughout the country, the Y has the track record and on-the-ground presence to move communities forward with a focus on Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility.

Every day, the Akron Area YMCA works to make a positive impact in the lives of individuals, families and communities we serve. Below are just some of the examples of the impact being made in the effort to build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all.

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View All Member Impact Stories On Youtube:

Watch Anna Build Confidence and Reach Her Potential:

Watch How Mike and Mandii Cramer Stay Encouraged and Inspired:

Watch Gerri's Unique Story:

Watch Aaron Discover a Place to Belong:

Strength Through Friendship and Support:

Youth Development

Growing Stronger

When it came to entrusting the care and educational development of her daughter, Stephanie Peoples wanted to be sure that the provider she selected would be the right fit for her, her family and most importantly her daughter.

Stephanie found exactly what she was looking for at the Y Pre-K at Cascade Village, where her daughter Janae feels at home. At age three, Janae can write her name, identify shapes and colors, and knows the days of the week.

Stephanie shared, “Every day she tells me what she learned. It’s always something new!” Janae’s imagination has expanded, and she’s also learned to share and take turns while enjoying the company of other children her age. Janae has developed the ability to identify and express her emotions. When upset, she is able to calmly explain her feelings rather than pout, cry or hit.

“I’m glad the Y focuses on Janae’s physical development too. She has learned to skip, do jumping jacks and dance. She enjoys it so much! She’s constantly dancing around our house,” said Stephanie. “The open communication between the teachers and parents is great. I always feel like we are on the same page.”


Transforming Futures

Ryan Branney began coming into the Y to exercise every morning at 5:15 AM. This dedication allowed him to gradually increase the speed and incline on the treadmill, allowing him to shed 123 pounds in six months. Ryan described his transformation by saying that, “the pounds just dripped off me! I feel 100 times better about myself. I used to be tired and miserable. Now I’m always upbeat and positive!”

“My overall health has done a 180 and I can’t thank the Green Family YMCA enough! I went from 311 pounds to 188 pounds. My waist shrunk from 44 inches to 33,” continued Ryan. “I couldn’t have done it without the Y’s support and encouragement throughout my journey. I never used a trainer, but they were there every day with a smile on their face, always happy to see me.”

Ryan no longer looks at exercise as something he has to do. Now he enjoys it and is always looking for new challenges. His wife and kids are really enjoying participating in activities at the Y, too.

“I’m more confident in everything I do. I have more energy and I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been!”

Social Responsibility 

Witnessing Impact

Gerri Gruic grew up at the Firestone Park YMCA where she and her mother attended programs. In high school, Gerri regularly went to dances at the Y and participated in community service projects through the BlueTri YMCA program for girls.

A lifetime resident of Firestone Park, Gerri took her daughter, Vicki, and her son, Matthew, to the Firestone Park YMCA for Child Care and to participate in their youth programs. She took part in their group exercise programs, volunteered, and eventually joined their staff.

Gerri served on the Firestone Park YMCA Advisory Board and continues to serve on their Mother’s Club. She’s taken part in many fundraising events and served as a storyteller for the Annual Campaign to raise funds to provide families in need with financial assistance. For two years, Gerri served as the Y Annual Campaign representative at the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company.

“I’ve seen the positive impact the Y has on youth, not only with my children and grandchildren, but with the many children and teens I’ve watched grow up at the Firestone Park YMCA,” said Gerri. “The long-term relationships my children and I developed here are invaluable and I’m proud to have had the opportunity to help make the Y affordable for others.”

Gerri’s enthusiasm for life is contagious and she is well known throughout Firestone Park, Akron and the Y community. Many of the young people in “the Park” see her as “The Y!” A responsibility she takes very seriously.

As a 30-year member of the Y staff, Gerri worked for 12 years at the Association Services Office and continues to help out as needed. Now that she’s retired, Gerri enjoys going to the Firestone Park YMCA five days a week to participate in the SilverSneakers® program.

“I’m stronger, I move faster and my clothes fit better. That makes me feel good about me!” said Gerri when asked how she benefits from SilverSneakers. “I look forward to seeing my friends at the Y, and I’m continually making new ones.”