To commemorate our 150th anniversary, we've set a goal to reach out to 150 people who have a great memory, story or legacy moment to share about the Akron Area YMCA.  If you're one of these people, let us know.    

Stay tuned to our FACEBOOK page to read published stories and see others below.

“We found the Y about 20 years ago. Our son and daughter were in middle and elementary school. The four of us felt like we needed to start exercising. I know that's kind of late in my life to start really thinking about that, but, you know, when you have little children it was busy and I kept active that way. So we came to the Green Y. My son would come and hang out with the boys and play basketball and my daughter would come here every so often and work out. I started working outside the home, and I would work out either before or after work. My goal was just to get here and keep active. And I just felt like it made me feel a lot better, too, when I was done working out. I've met some nice friends, and it's been really good for me to stay active like that."

Lori F. Green YMCA

“I walked in the door and it was overwhelming--the kindness. And, in this branch specifically, I feel like I'm coming home and I always have felt that from that first day. So coming here every day, I'm not going to work. I'm just going to go spend eight hours with my other family. Really, the reason I stay is the Y has poured into me professionally, like I never would have experienced anywhere else. It gives me opportunities continually to grow and it allows me to give opportunities to my family to grow, and it fit. It's just a perfect fit for my family.”

Heidi C. Riverfront YMCA Business Manager

“When I first came over here, I was between 223 to 300 pounds for 30 years. I was depressed and lonely and all that. I didn't know what to do with my life. I was retired, my husband and son weren't around anymore, so I didn't know what to do. I came over here in 2016 and found a family. I really did. We have a lot of fun and I laugh a lot and I love the it classes! I do silver sneakers, I do silver sneakers classic, and circuit. I do the yoga, I do the barre, and I do the Zumba when I can. And it’s really brought me out of my depression.”

Rose F. Riverfront YMCA

“My husband and I were Missionary Teachers overseas, and when we came back to the States we settled right here in Firestone Park. I said to my husband, ‘I'm going to join the Y. I'd like you to join the Y with me, but if you're not going to, that's okay. I'm still going to do it!’ So, we both joined soon after retiring here in Firestone park and I love it. I love the Silver Sneakers class that I'm a part of every day at nine o'clock. I'm kind of an outgoing person and I love meeting everybody and talking to everybody. The Y was looking for a front desk person, so I'm now part of the staff as a Membership Service Representative and I work Monday, Wednesday, Friday. And what I love the most is I have some new friends. You never can have too many friends, and I like to call them by name and encourage them. I love my job. It's kind of icing on the cake after a career of teaching elementary students three States here and four places overseas. So, it's wonderful.”

Nancy B. MSR at Firestone Park YMCA 

“You see, the Y community is everything for me, because this is my community. This area is where I was brought up. I was born and raised around here, and community is something that my grandmother and my grandfather instilled in us from a kid. Community and family. Those are the two most important things to me.”

Jermain N. Kohl Family YMCA

"I never get tired of my job. Every day is just so different. I get to help people every day, and each day is a different challenge. It's just a really fun job. The people that I've met over the years I still stay in contact with on Facebook. I've gotten to see kids grow up here. I've hired some of the kids that were in programs years ago. They're now staff for us, and I think that's just one of my favorite things.

The Y has been really impactful on my life. I've been here a long time. You know, you always have challenges through life and I think the Y has really helped me through those times because of the friends that I've made and my coworkers."

Kevin M. Lake Anna YMCA Business Manager

“About six and a half years ago, my son recommended I come here, so I pulled myself in here at about 260 pounds and I dragged myself up the steps. It took about five years to get my weight down. Then, I started taking my wife, who had dementia, with me here. I would put her on the treadmill and keep her moving. We'd walk up here from Fairlawn. I’d put her in a little jogging buddy. I used to have a wheelchair, but I crashed it a couple of times, so I got encouraged to buy a buggy. Do you ever see the ones that are like the ones moms are pushing, their young baby has the bicycle wheels and stuff? I had one set up for an adult. It was a good 200 pounds. She was only 85 pounds, though, so we'd come in from Fairlawn and get up here and then, I'd exercise for about an hour, then we peddled back. We were here all the time, and it was great cause, if I didn't, she would just lay in bed. That was all she could do, so I’d bring her here. And she was cute as can be, with those dimples and smile. I've been coming ever since.

Freddy F. Kohl Family YMCA

“I've been working at Lake Anna for four years. I actually had a friend that I went to school with who had started to become a lifeguard here. And he was telling me that they were trying to look for more lifeguards and he said that I should come apply. And I did. And that's how it all got started. Honestly, I stayed here because it's just a great place to work. Right now I'm in school and it's super flexible with the school hours. But, like, I feel like I've just formed a big family with the staff and like they're just so easy to work with you and getting to talk to all the members and learning about the members. It's really a great opportunity."

Kaitlyn M. Lake Anna YMCA Lifeguard

"I made it through like all of the seasons of Friends and Parks and Recreation in, like, five minutes, so I thought ‘I should probably do something with my life.’ I wanted to make a new routine and so I did--I joined the Y because it was convenient, but I stayed because of the pool. I don't like to sweat! Plus, it's kind of cool that the staff knows me by name now, and I've started to know some of the regular swimmers. I’ve lost 50 pounds. When I started, I weighed in at 222 and then I got down to 192, so that's incredible. If I miss a day, Lindsey at the front desk asks me where I've been, which is kind of nice. And, it's a little more accountability, which is good for me. I like the structure. And the people here are really, really cool."

Esther K. Kohl Family YMCA

“Well, in the greater Akron community, I think for the long, long history that the Y has been in existence, we’ve seen our community change--there's a lot more social and emotional needs that kids and families, you know, really require to be successful. And I think the Y plays a very pivotal role in that. Many of the recreation programs and many of the educational programs offer opportunities both before and after school for kids to develop in a holistic manner. Whether it's teaching kids how to swim or whether it's providing safe spaces after school before parents get home, we have before and after school enrichment programs and about 15 of our elementary CLCs that are in partnership with the Y. Those services are really important because many of our parents have to work and there's a lot of concern with families in terms of having their kids in a safe space. It’s not just the safety factor--it’s also from the educational point of view, being able to get homework help and being able to just extend what they've been learning in the classroom. So, I think moving forward there's going to be a lot of opportunities for the Y to expand services around some of those areas with the youth in our community. Because it is sorely needed.”

Dr. David James. Superintendent, Akron Public Schools

“I represent the foster grandparents of Summit County. We have a program in which we are at almost every school in the County. We have foster grandparents and daycare centers and our mission is to assist the kids in school, young and old, middle school, high school. They need some assistance for when they don't understand. They have difficulty reading, or they have some comprehension problems, or just need somebody to talk to. That's what we do because you know, where most people don’t think about how this generation is the generation that's going to lead us further. So we have to do something so that they have the right idea of what to do and how to get to it.”

Grandma Craig. Phoenix School

“I started coming to the YMCA through a rehab stint, actually with Summa, right next door. I tore the ACL in my left leg playing basketball and Summa got me started on some of the equipment here. I got to know some of the people that worked out here and so I decided to stick with it. The biggest part of my story other than rehabbing my knee injury was weight loss. When I first started here, I was about 330 pounds. Currently I’m down to 210-215. I was able to change my routine here and have people encourage me throughout the process.

The Y is definitely a community that you'll quickly realize that you benefit being a part of, whether that's encouraging other people towards their goals or having them encourage you towards your goals. It’s a huge piece that's been part of my life for the last five years.”

Nick B. Kohl Family YMCA

"One of the things I love most about the Y is that for me, this is home. And it hasn't mattered which of those Y's that I've been at -- this is always home."

Leah Ferencak. Lake Anna YMCA Aquatics Director

"We essentially lived here. We were here all the time, between me taking classes and him taking classes. And then he's got two kids from a previous marriage that were taking classes all the time, too. And then after we got married, we had one! The Y has just always been a huge part of our lives.” 

Ryan and Samantha Y, Married 7 years. Riverfront Family YMCA

"Mike was teaching scuba diving classes at the Y, and I would guard, and we would end up going out cause I would close up and we would go out and get something to eat. the Y was close, so we would go out to eat and we got to know each other. And then he was teaching rec swim classes and I was working down at the Y teaching swim lessons and stuff. One day, one of our lifeguards actually came over to me and said, 'you know, he likes you!' And I said, 'w-what do you mean he likes me?!' This was a 16 year old lifeguard! Then another lifeguard--who was a good friend of ours that was actually our maid of honor at our wedding--went over to Mike and said 'you know, you ought to ask Deb out.' She came and told me and I was so embarrassed. So I went over to him and I said, well, I apologize for Sandy. I said, I, I, I'm really sorry, I never told her to do that! As I walked away, I looked over my shoulder and I said 'but... It's not a bad idea.’ And that's how it started." 

DJ G. Green Family YMCA

"That was Valentine's Day.  It was our first official date after having all the other dinners together. We used to close down Chili's after the scuba class. It was just wonderful, mutual companionship. We had our wedding reception at the Y we met at, and we had over 200 people there. All the seniors, all the kids...we just said ‘come!’ And they did." 

Mike G. Green Family YMCA

"Our first week of camp, I was, like, five, and Evan was six. I have a memory of creek stomping when we were trying trap crawdads and, like, breed them. It was weird. But after camp, somehow our parents, like, got together on Facebook or something--'cause that's how Facebook works--and ever since then, we've been friends at camp and we try our best to keep in touch during the summer and after." 

 Nate B. (Pictured Right). Camp Y-Noah

"For some people, camp is just a place. I mean, like there are some people that kind of find everything boring. They don't want to come here. But for us, it's like a home away from home. When we come to camp, we don't have to worry about all those problems that are going on, like, outside in the world. It's just, you know, you and your friends. It's really helped me grow as a person."

Evan U. (Pictured Left). Camp Y-Noah

“One day after finishing my racquetball game, I was turning in my towel that the Y desk. I overheard a question. The question was, ‘are you offering racquetball lessons?’ There, a few yards away, was an attractive young lady questioning the need of the Y attendant. I immediately responded with, ‘I'll teach you.’ That was it. A five second encounter and I was on my way back to Reuther Mold. Five seconds earlier or later for each of us and our lives and the lives of countless others would have been very different. Gayle called me three times after checking me out with Anita--the woman at the front desk--and I finally agreed to give her a lesson.”

 Karl and Gayle R. 

“We like to play Connect 4 after school together!”

Lily and Avery. Green Primary After school Program

“This place just really brings people together in such a way. I mean, we've been doing this for 50 years plus for us. We talk to each other every day, or every other day...almost every day. Still been doing that for the best part of 50 years. It all comes right back here, which is really a very unusual thing. I, you know, it's funny-- I talk to people that go, ‘I know a couple of people from high school, but I don't really talk to anybody very much and I don't have a lot of friends.’ And I say, well, I've got seven, eight, nine guy friends that have been tight for 50 years. And they go, ‘you're kidding?’ I go, no. They go, ‘wow, that must be neat.’ I said, yeah, it really is neat.”

Pat, Pictured Center. Camp Y-Noah

"After coming back out of being a stay at home mom for 22 years, I decided to get back into the workplace and the Y gave me my first job as entering back into the workplace. I saw an advertisement and figured I'd give it a go, and here I am! When I started here at Hope, I started in the infant room with Ms. Sandy. Then, I moved to the preschool classroom, which I believe is was my favorite classroom. And then in October of last year, so October 2018, I was asked to become Assistant Director here at Hope. It's one of my greatest assets because, with my role, I always say that I am a child's advocate. And what better place to advocate for children."

Tammie J. Hope Early Care & Education Center

"A couple of years ago, the doctor told me I wouldn't make it to see my 50th birthday. He said lose weight, or die. Well, I just celebrated my 50th birthday two weeks ago. I've lost around 300 pounds so far, and I've got goals to lose more."

John B. Kohl Family YMCA

“If it wasn't for Mr. H, I'd be out here lost in the sauce. When I really knew Mr H. cared about me, he put me in this basketball camp for Patterson park, and I wasn't doing good. I was fighting, I was doing a lot, but he ain't give up on me. He stayed in there with me and then after that I really, like, figured out that he cared for me.”

Davante. Phoenix School

More Information

Contact Information

Akron Area YMCA
50 S. Main Street, Ste. LL 100
Akron, Ohio 44308
(330) 376-1335