Souls of the Y

"Souls of the Y's" purpose is to shine a light on our member's stories. Stories that we see and hear about every day. They have touched our hearts and have driven home our mission. Whether inspiring or thought-provoking, these are the stories that lift up our Y.


Shubham with his fellow campers on a field trip at Santa's Village.

“I’d like to tell you how much my son Shubham enjoyed summer camp.” expressed Komal Patel. Komal continued, “Shubham is special needs and camp keeps him active, social and happy. He’s been following direction better and is happy every day when I drop him off.”

Not only is camp convenient for the Patel’s, Komal says it's been accommodating, “Shubham is a vegetarian but is very interested and insistent on having the provided lunches the other campers are having. So, staff began to swap out the non-vegetarian item in the lunch with Shubham’s vegetarian option. Shubham immediately felt more included at lunchtime.”

"Camp keeps him active, social and happy. He’s been following direction better and is happy every day when I drop him off.”

Shubham with his camp counselor, Carter Hegseth.

GaGa ball, basketball, and field trips were among Shubham’s favorite actives at the Y said camp counselor, Shayla Heery, “He was an incredible addition to summer camp this year. He was always eager tojoin in on water activities, play games with kids and to try new things – like GaGa ball!”

Shubham has made friends with counselors and campers and intrinsically provided them a chance to learn about special needs. Counselor, Carter Hegseth, “Shubham was a blessing because of the way he brought out the best in the other campers. Seeing other kids help him and include him in games and activities is what camp is all about.”

“It was our goal as staff at summer camp to create an environment that was not only fun but safe and inclusive. I am so proud of the staff and the positivity they emulated as role models to our campers. The residual effect was that campers also displayed those same traits daily. This was evident in their interactions with each other and with Shubham.” This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., School Age Child Care Director. "We look forward to having Shubham at camp next summer!"


Family, Challenges, Triumph: The Divin Family

Fall in love with the Divin's and their story of family, challenges, and triumph. To learn more about Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy visit:

The Journeyman: David Thielk

David, Kelly, Eli, Maia and Nevin Thielk

David's family left to right: Nevin, Maia, David, Kelli and Eli

My fitness journey started when I joined the Sandwich Wrestling team at age 13. Wrestling taught me that with hard work and determination I can fight through and overcome anything in life. I graduated high school in 1996 in the best shape of my life, attributed to wrestling. Shortly after high school I got married and started a family with my beautiful wife of 20 years. We have 3 crazy kids. With starting a family came a large responsibility and I thought I had to sacrifice my gym time, which also meant my health, in order to manage it all. For 17 years my attempts at the gym and eating healthy were a yo-yo trick of ups and downs. Once my children entered high school and started working out at the YMCA they became my motivators and the gym became our family time. I/we make time for the gym as a family now. The thing I realized over the past few years is that I deserve gym time and that when I take care of myself I can take better care of my family.

"The thing I realized over the past few years is that I deserve gym time and that when I take care of myself I can take better care of my family."

I am a journeyman/lineman and my job requires me to travel due to storms and other natural disasters. No matter where my job takes me there is always a YMCA for me to workout at. Over the last 2 years, I have stopped at YMCA's all over Illinois. YMCA's in Galesburg, Plainfield, Morris, Kankakee, Plano, Springfield, Rockford and more, they are all amazing and welcoming but West Branch in Sandwich is my home. My job, like others, can make it difficult to get to the gym.

Working on powerlines is exciting and very rewarding! I love what I do for a living and it makes me feel proud to be a part of a brotherhood of the strongest. I love the fast pace, intense demands of focus and the adrenaline working my job; journeyman/lineman is one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs.

David visiting the Haverford Area YMCA in Pennsylvania

The rewarding part of this job is when we go out in a storm to help people that have lost power due to a natural disaster. We are usually sent in before these disasters hit and we ride the storms with the first responders or move in shortly after they hit. I have been to many states for storm restoration including Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and most recently, Florida for Hurricane Erma –– all of which participate in the Y's nationwide membership programphoto caption: David visiting the Haverford Area YMCA in Pennsylvania.


"I have the staff at the Y pushing me –– Jackie yelling at the front desk, Nicole’s laugh, Bambi’s smile, and my family by my side to motivate me. This is my Y!"

There are no words to describe what it feels like to ride out a hurricane or any other natural disaster, not knowing the devastation that you will see when it is over. Once the storm calms, our job starts, we work 16 plus hours helping to restore power. The conditions are tough and the tasks are not easy. Hurricane Erma left people out of power for three weeks. Those amazing Floridians were so kind; feeding us and bringing us drinks while we worked despite all they had been through.

Thinking back to my high school wrestling days, I loved being a part of a team and Coach Gerrish pushing us to keep going and never give up. I’m older now and those days are still part of my core values and it is probably why I love working hard at my job, my marriage, and being a good dad. Now instead of Coach Gerrish I have the staff at the Y pushing me –– Jackie yelling at the front desk, Nicole’s laugh, Bambi’s smile, and my family by my side to motivate me. This is my Y!

Learn more about the Y's Nationwide Membership Program here.

Special olympic swimmer: Jessica Grammar


Aug/Sept 2018 Maintenance & Renovation

paint roller blu2Starting Sunday, Aug. 19 Central Branch will undergo our yearly Maintenance and Renovation schedule. The pool will be closed for the duration of the Maintenance and Renovations which will take place from August 19 to September 4. Group-Ex classes will follow an amended schedule from the Monday the 27th through Friday the 31st –– Kids Zone will be closed during this time.  Regular facility hours and class times will resume on Tuesday, September 4, 2018. We thank you for your patience during this time! Download a copy of our renovation schedule here.

View Amended Group Exercise Fitness Schedule for the week of August 26th - September 4th. Please keep in mind, Kids Zone will not be open during the amended schedule week.

West Branch will be undergoing Maintenance from September 3-9th and will resume normal hours on Monday the 10th.

Facility hours on Labor Day, September 5, will be 4:30am to 12pm.












We are the Y

Hellos in the hallways. Splashes in the pool. Me time in yoga. Feeling at home, even off the field. You know the feeling – being part of something bigger. We are The Y!



Whether it was a goal to get in shape or learn to swim, below are the some of the stories that make our Y strong.


From a one week trial to a love of our Group Ex Fitness classes, meet Tammy!

• Why have you chosen to workout at the Y?

I started with the one week trial because I wanted to see what the group classes were about. I realized right away that the Y is more of a community than a workout facility. The instructors have strong relationships with their classes and everyone is friendly and welcoming. I'm very thankful for the friendships I've made through the Y. 

• What is your favorite class?

My favorite classes are Pilates and Les Mills BodyPump. Pilates helped me correct my diastasis recti after having my second baby, and that made a big difference in all areas of my fitness.

• Do you or your family participate in any other Y programs?

My son does swim lessons off and on and my husband sometimes plays in the open gym basketball games. My 2 boys also go to the kid zone while I work out and they love it. They ask to go there every day so I love knowing they're having fun and socializing while I get a good workout in (and get to socialize myself!) 

• Have you experienced positive changes or benefits that you would attribute to working out at the Y?

When I started this fitness journey I had no idea where it would take me, but I've noticed so many positive changes. I have grown to love group fitness classes. I am much healthier than I've been in probably a decade. I have more energy to keep up with my boys, and working out has been a great stress reliever for me.


"Lincoln always came to class with a big smile on his face. He was either dressed in his favorite superhero clothing and was excited to see his friends. Lincoln was eager to participate and share during our Morning Circle. He liked to make his friends laugh and had a great sense of humor. During the school year, he worked really hard on writing his name. By the end of the year, he could write his first and last name fluently!"  –Mrs. Poss, Lincoln's Preschool teacher.



"I've made new friends outside of school and enjoy hanging out with fellow swimmers. My favorite event is the 50M Back Stroke." said Ben. With just 2 seasons under his cap, Ben is already excelling as a member of the Aqua Force Swim Team and in more than just his favorite event. This past weekend, Ben took 2nd place in his age group in the 200M Freestyle at the YMCA Swimming Championships. "Ben showed potential and I was excited to work with him at practice. Now his hard work has paid off at big meets. I can see his enthusiasm, especially when he's on that podium holding a medal!" says Swim Coach, Kevin Satler.

While Ben practices with the swim team, his 2 younger sisters, Lily and Maddy, take swim lessons.  Their mother Katie says, "The kids love the water – they beg to be signed-up. Swim lessons have prepared the girls to swim in the lake. Lily is now comfortable putting her face in the water and Maddy swims on her own instead of holding onto me. AND when the girls and Ben swim, I get to work out! I enjoy Les Mills BODYSTEP and BODYPUMP as well as Spin."





Dean, member since 2009, deliveries beautiful, home-grown roses to our front desk all summer long. Not only do Dean's flowers brighten the desk, they also brighten our day! THIS is what it means to be a member at the Y. Because we're more than a gym – we're family.











When we asked Eric if we could take his photo for this feature, he replied, "Get this pose, you can really see my muscles." 

That sense of humor and confidence makes him well-liked by staff and members. But his commitment to a healthy lifestyle is why he chooses the Y. "Fitness leads to a healthy life. A healthy life leads to a happy life. And a happy life leads to a well-lived life."  












“My favorite part of soccer was making goals and being on a team with all of my new and old friends,” says Emmett.  Not only is the commitment to a sport beneficial to a child, it's also a benefit to the family as a whole. "Our family has made lifelong friends at the Y. Our whole family looks forward to sports days,"  said Emmet's mother, Tiffany. "Coach Ed clicked with all the kids and I could tell he truly cared for all of them. It was fun to watch each kid on the team improve their skills and grow their confidence."




2018 FALL





Download this file (FVFYMCA_Fall2018.pdf)2018 FVFYMCA Fall Brochure