READ TESTIMONIALS FROM MEMBERS, VOLUNTEERS, STAFF AND MORE.
Since its founding in 1886, The Summit Area YMCA has positively impacted the lives of many members in our community and beyond. From helping cancer recovery patients to providing financial assistance to those in need, to motivating you to reach your wellness goals, to making safe spaces for children with diverse abilities—we care about our neighbors and work to provide every individual opportunities to learn, grow and thrive. These are their stories.
For Youth Development
Where Kids Can Be Kids
“Our two active kids who went from being in school, playing sports, and in after care to now being home, all the time. We weighed the pros and cons and to think that our kids would waste away on devices all summer while we were also trying to work and be productive made no sense. Camp was the best place for them to be especially since Y Camp worked very smartly with the Board of Health and followed the CDC guidelines (temperatures taken, masks, sanitizing statins, outdoor hand washing sinks). It was a big help camp was largely run outdoors and so a much less risky place to be. The first day I picked them up from camp they were like two different kids - happier than I have seen them in months.” - Judy
“The Achievers program gave me invaluable information about how I could afford college and helped alleviate my fears about not being able to attend. I learned about scholarships, federal and state aid and that many colleges gave needs-based grants. Knowing I had options gave me hope. Achievers has taught me about the college process, college life, how to network and get a job, the importance of preparing for an interview and more. After high school I want to go to college, study criminal justice, and become a cop. I don’t want to give up on the people who worked so hard for me to get to this point. Someday I want to come back to Achievers and inspire others just like others have inspired me” - Jeffrey
“As a single working mother going to school full time, I needed an affordable, quality childcare program for Gaven, my 2 year old. With the generous financial assistance from the Summit Area YMCA, I was able to leave Gaven in the hands of caring, attentive teachers who wanted only the best for him. After 6-7 months in the Toddler program, Gaven was diagnosed with kidney cancer and I had to pull him from school. The teachers regularly sent me emails rooting for his speedy recovery and return. Today we're back at the Y and Gaven is getting stronger physically and emotionally every day. The Y is truly a community that supports, loves and helps you when you need it.” - Sianneth
“I was the fat kid in high school and I was also the kid that got picked on the most. I was divorced and I gained 70lbs in less than a year. My friends, I had distanced myself from. But I would still be sitting at home on the couch eating a pint of ice cream and wondering what was wrong with me. So I stopped by the YMCA and I decided just to start swimming one day. I started off just doing two, three laps and then I came back the next day and did 10 laps. Then I came back the next day and did 20 laps and now when I come swimming I do close to a mile within 25, 26 minutes.” - Owen
“They said, ‘Go to the YMCA. It’s helpful and it will make you feel pretty good.’ They pushed me. And the real irony is that I’d get in the car and go home, still not cured of course, but I felt better. LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA helped to make me more knowledgeable about my physical needs. Richard, you don’t have to do 40 push-ups, but you can do just six and that’s six more than you would have done. They would help me to appreciate the people around me. I don’t know where else where you get that kind of intense love and care. That’s what the LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA is.’’ - Richard
“I have arthritis, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s. I have a knee replacement with iron. Now since I started in the YMCA, I feel so good and healthy. Before I had a headache, confusion, and Alzheimer’s. I don’t say it’s gone, but I’m thinking better. They saw me before with a cane or a stroller, and now I don’t take anything. I have better balance and I’m happy. Since I do exercise, I feel free. I feel like I'm 15 years old! The staff are all so friendly. When you come into the YMCA, everybody says, 'Good morning!' and asks how you are doing and when you leave they say 'Goodbye, have a nice day." - Yolanda
"Once a week I deliver for someone. She doesn’t drive and she has three kids. Last week, I knocked on the door, and there was this little boy, two years old maybe, he comes and says to me in Spanish, ‘Oh you’re bringing the food! I’m so happy! We’re going to have something to eat!’ So imagine how I felt. I went back to my car and cried. Sometimes we take things for granted." - Ceci A.
“My first impression, I think, was that it was just a really nice gym, but I thought ‘it was just another gym.’ When I found out that you guys were giving free memberships to military members, it changed my perspective because I just thought that was such a great way to show caring for the community and just military members and their families who might have a little extra on their plates at times.” – Brittany F.
"Paul, a personal trainer at the Berkeley Heights YMCA, invited my son Brian to work out with him at no extra charge. The Y has helped Brian be motivated to set goals, stay on track, and achieve results. He’s lost over 20lbs since he started working out and is so much more self-confident—he feels like he’s accomplishing something. It is affirming to see your child succeed in a welcoming environment. I’m blessed." - Debra M.
As a mother and someone who has suffered a hip injury, it's very important to me to go to the gym everyday—or to "therapy" as I like to call it. I look forward to the friendly environment, to the variety of classes, to sweating, to working hard, and doing something for me. I can go to the Y and forget about all my worries and cares for an hour, and I always leave feeling much better, physically and emotionally. Working out at the Y and making so many friends there has built my body back up from the inside out, and I feel stronger than I ever have before. The Y gave us a community, a place for us to go to become better, healthier, and happier people. - Elise
"When Michael was younger, there were so many special needs programs for little kids. By the time he turned 10, most of those programs ended and it became almost impossible to find something for him. Then, we began doing the Adaptive Yoga at the Berkeley Heights YMCA and attending the Fridays in Motion events that they do in collaboration with St. Bart’s. He looks forward to seeing his friends and always gets excited for the next thing happening at the Y. When he’s participating in these programs, I’m not always with him and so he learns to become more independent. He can experience the real world in a safe setting, surrounded by Y staff that really care about the kids a lot. It feels like a family. I love the Y because they care.” - Alisa
As a child, the Summit YMCA was a healthy outlet for me—basketball, Achievers, summer camp, and mentors. Achievers taught me what it was like to be strong, intelligent and to pursue my dreams. The Y provides financial assistance to those that need it, but positive assistance for all. I love working with kids in child care and summer camp—I thrive on the challenge that each day brings and it’s so rewarding to see how I positively impact a child’s life. It’s great to be able to give back and be some kid’s superman! - Shabazz
When we say that the Summit Area YMCA welcomes everyone, we mean it. As the first Diversity, Inclusion & Global Innovation Network of New Jersey, we strive to continuously welcome and engage all people from all diverse groups of the community through welcoming, inclusive practices, program innovation, services and events to help impact lasting, meaningful change. We believe in the strength of community and supporting our neighbors for a better tomorrow, for a better us.
LIVESTRONG® AT THE YMCA health & confidence
“LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA has taught me more about my physical self—I don’t have to force myself to do 40 pushups to be macho, I can do six and that’s already six more than I would have done yesterday. The Y staff has guided me with kindness and support, and they are clearly knowledgeable about our individual physical and emotional needs. LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA has taken me across the gate into living beyond the disease of cancer, and I am both more confident and healthier as a result.” - Richard
“I am learning freestyle, backstroke, and how to float—I didn’t know how to before I came to the Y. You don’t have to be scared because the teachers and lifeguards are there to teach you. Swim lessons prevent accidents. I am really glad the Y has free Learn to Swim classes for 2nd Graders.” - Innocence
“Gary had such a good time at Summer Camp with the Y, he didn't want to come home and said if he could, he would go for a month. He loved the variety of activities he got to try - especially tubing down the Delaware, swimming, camping, and archery. He made lots of friends. He loved the staff. He was so proud to receive the Best Athlete Award. The program has helped him stay active and engaged during the summer months, and he's made plenty of wonderful memories too.” - Dorothy, Gary's Grandmother
"I love the Y's group fitness classes like TRX and indoor cycling. Everyone’s rooting for each other, it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from, what size you are or what your physical ability is, you’re welcome and you’ll succeed just by stepping into class. My daughter is at the same age where I started binging, and to have the support of the YMCA so we can walk on the treadmill together, we can swim together, we can cycle together—so the YMCA really supports me in building a healthy relationship with her, my other children and for myself. I could not be more grateful for the place that the YMCA has in my heart, in my family and in my life." - Kara
"A year and a half ago, I was in a week long coma and the doctors told my kids to prepare for my funeral because I probably wasn’t going to make it. I always thought my heart was fine, but after testing I only had 45-50% cardiac usage. After joining the Healthy Hearts Cardiac Rehab program at the Y, I can tell I am getting stronger. I like that the instructors encourage you to be independent. If you have someone show you what to do all the time, you don’t learn. Now, I can walk into the fitness center and know what machines to use and how to use them. I really look forward to coming here and I’m glad I signed up for the program." - Arthur
“The support of meeting other people who are on the same medicines as I am, having the same side effects, and a little bit of coaching. ‘Have you tried eating more broccoli leaves?’ No I never thought to eat broccoli leaves. Well that can help with some of the side effects. To have these other people who are in similar boats, whether their age or their diagnosis was the same as mine. We all had our lives turned upside down and we can kind of make some progress together here in a safe place where it’s okay to cry. How do I get that energy level back? How do I safely feel good again? You do it through the LIVESTRONG® program." - Laurie