Y Inspired Story - Meet Vanessa

May 1, 2017

More Than a Gym, A Place to Belong

To some in the Roanoke Valley, the YMCA is a place to exercise, take swim lessons, or try out a new group exercise class. But to some the Y means so much more. To some the Y is a place to face new challenges, to develop healthier habits, to conquer fears, to make new friends, and to build community. To some, like Vanessa Patterson, it’s a place to belong.

Vanessa came to the Salem YMCA two years ago as one of our volunteers and has faithfully dedicated two days every week to serve the community here. At any day you can find Vanessa wiping down equipment, sweeping, dusting, or helping members. “I love cleaning and whenever anyone needs any type of help, I want to help them,” said Vanessa. She has built strong friendships with the staff and members as well. “I talk and joke around with the staff. They are so nice to me and when I am hungry, they share their snacks with me.” Vanessa’s servant heart is not limited to the Y as she can be found helping others where she lives as well. At home she helps those in her neighborhood do their laundry, take out their trash, carry their groceries and even help them prepare to move.

You may also find Vanessa swimming laps in our pool. She is proud to share her experiences of practicing for the Special Olympics at our downtown Kirk Family YMCA, swimming 60 laps straight without stopping, and earning second place medals for her accomplishments. “I wondered if I could get to the end of the pool but I did and I got the medal,” shared Vanessa.

Over the past two years Vanessa has found a community in which she belongs to and looks forward to being at every week. “When I’m not at the Y, I miss it. When I’m at home I sometimes get bored and wish I could be at the Y more often to stay busy and help others. Staying busy makes me feel good and happy,” said Vanessa.

The Y is a unique organization in that every day we are giving people like Vanessa opportunities to serve and be a blessing to others through volunteerism.