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My Y Story: Butoyi Emmanuel

What are the things that have kept me so invested in the YMCA? While there are many reasons that keep me coming back day after day, the most notable and impactful reason would be the community I found here. Everyone holds each other up, friendships can be easily and quickly formed just by a simple game of basketball or ping pong, and anyone, especially kids, can always find the help they may need with school, family, or general well-being.

The YMCA gave me a place to unwind and relax, a place to study, a place to build my health, and a place to connect with people of all different backgrounds. I would often come here after school to work out or do my homework because I didn’t have exercise equipment at home or a reasonably-priced gym near me. And, I didn’t have a quiet space at home to do my work or someone to help me with my homework. At the Y, I found exactly what I needed and more.

I would tell myself, “just walk in, do your homework, work out, and then walk out.” As each week passed, something new would be added to my sentence, something like “just walk in, play ball with a few people, do your homework, work out, make at least three interactions with people, and then walk out.” That became my routine for about a month until it came to the point where I didn’t want to leave unless my mom called me or the YMCA was closing.

In my opinion, my Y story doesn’t seem that interesting or unique. All I can say is that the YMCA played a huge part in developing who I’ve become now. The Y gave me my first job and gave me a second family – many people who I’m still in contact with today. If it weren’t for the YMCA, I wouldn’t be where I am now. They gave me a passion to help and a desire to do more for the youth in our community.