Back in August, I started working for the Y. Since then I have been told on several occasions that I needed to know my Y story because at some point I would be asked what my Y story is. “My Y Story: Whether you come to the Y to work, play or volunteer, whether you are 5 or 55, we want to know what the Y means to you.” I was also told, several times, that if my Y story was “just that you needed a paycheck, that will change” and “it won’t be that for long.” Well, they were right. While I came to the Y originally because I just needed a job, that is no longer the only reason.
I found my Y story in a very unexpected way. On my way back to work one afternoon I stopped to get coffee, nothing unusual there. Colorado has these little drive-thru shacks called Dutch Bros, which is better than Starbuck, and the people that work there are always upbeat and happy. They almost always ask you how you are and what you’re up to and stuff like that. So I pull up to the window, place my order, and then proceed to talk to the person who had taken my order.
As always, I was asked what I was up to for the rest of the day and, as always, I responded with “Headed back to work.” Every now and then I get asked where I work, today was one of those days. I told her that I’m Before and After School Care Site Director. Normally the response I get is something along the lines of “Oh cool” and then they hand me my coffee. Today was not a normal day. The girl inside the shack responded with “Oh, like for the Y?” Shocked, I told her yes. She then told me that when she was younger she would attend the Y Before and After School care and that she had loved it. She then handed me my coffee and told me to have a good day. I left feeling good that I work for something that obviously had a positive impact on someone and feeling that maybe I could do that for my kids.
I got to work, it was a Thursday which meant that I had a group of students that are rowdier than groups I have during the rest of the week. Part of the issue is that I have this one bunch of kids that really like to push not only my buttons but my Group Leader’s buttons as well. As I was sitting there signing in all the kids who were there one of the button pushers walked up to me and said, “My parents think that you guys are so much better than the other programs we went to.” Not really paying too much attention to this I just said “That’s nice. Don’t forget to wash your hands for snack.” What he said next shocked me. “I think you guys are much better too. The other people were mean and you guys are fun. We don’t get in trouble for no reason here.” And then he got in line to wash his hands. When I say that this shocked me, I’m not joking. Here is this kid who likes to cause trouble and push our buttons and complains about the activities we do telling me that he likes it here.
Now you may be wondering, “OK, so what does this have to do with your Y story?” Well, this is my Y story. I Y because of kids like the girl working at the coffee shack and the kid who pushes my button. I Y because it means I get to be that positive impact in someone’s life. I Y because while it is a job and I get a paycheck, I get to make a difference in someone’s life. What started as a job and a paycheck turned into so much more.