Found My Y: Giving as an Act of Resilience

Last updated: January 13, 2022, at 9:29 a.m. PT

Originally published: January 6, 2022, at 4:47 p.m. PT

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By. Heather Siegel 

When I think of the Y I think of this word, resilience. 

Many of us thought in 2021 we would be out of the pandemic and able to go back to our “normal” lives. Unfortunately, our world cannot “go back to the way things were” because we have all changed. The way we look at the world has changed, how we interact with friends, family, and our members has changed. But, I am proud that as an organization, the Y has held onto our core purpose. We have found new ways to support our communities and continue to bring hope to many. 

I often think about this couple who have consistently come to the Y since we reopened our doors last fall 2020. They started with the pool because one of them needed the pool to help strengthen his body following cancer treatment. Fast-forward to summer 2021, we found out he had to go back to the hospital for more treatment. I became invested in his journey, became a friend and neighbor, and rooted for their return. I was happy to see recently that they are now both back at the Y, on the road to recovery, and are using the strength machines.  

He now has to use a walker to get around, but he does it with a smile. They shared that the Y has been a great space for them to come three times a week to have consistency in their lives as he works to rebuild muscle in his body.  

This is why I continue to give to the Y.

Found My Y Infographic

At the Bellevue Y, we have supported over 2,000 meals to families experiencing financial hardships and food insecurity, through food trucks we host on Wednesday nights. The need remains in 2022 and we’re committed to continuing to support hunger programs.

We hosted over 10 COVID Vaccine pop-up events since April, to support our communities in getting educated, getting access, and having a safe place to go to get vaccinated. We have also partnered on four food drives with the Ismali Civic Engagement Group, a volunteer group in Kirkland, to support the Bellevue School District Family Connections Center. 

The Y is for everyone, regardless of means or access, and as such we have always, and will always, continue to help everyone that comes to the Y, by stepping up with scholarship and assistance when needed. As a community, the Y must be for all. Some people, we are helping 100% because they are in such dire situations that all they need is a shower. When I reflect on this work, I also have to celebrate you.

We have been that space for people to find community, in more ways than one. The pandemic limited us for a while, and we’re not back to the “before” just yet, but we are still working to rebuild and create space for our communities. I want to support this hope for our communities and by giving, I know it is supporting the people who trust us to be part of their lives. 

Please join me today in supporting the Y’s work by making a gift or pledge. Investing in young people, particularly those who are farthest from opportunity, is key to advancing equity and justice and building whole person health for all. When you give to the Y, your contribution ensures that those who need us most have access to quality programs, activities, and resources to achieve their full potential in spirit, mind, and body.

Thank you for taking the time to consider joining me and for allowing me to share my story. If you have questions, please come by your nearest Y and connect with us, or email donate@seattleymca.org for more information.


Heather Siegel is Branch Executive of the Bellevue Family YMCA and can be contacted at hsiegel@seattleymca.org  

Found My Y is an occasional series of reported stories and personal essays from the people in and around the Y who weave the fabric of our communities. From sharing fun anecdotes of levity to the grand moments when we learn something bigger about ourselves, stories are our history and a gift. Have a story to share, or want to nominate someone for our next installment, e-mail us at pr@seattleymca.org with the subject line "Found My Y."