Dylan, an 8-year-old student at Newark Grade School, has come a long way since he met Anne.

Anne, Dylan’s neighbor, took Dylan in when it became apparent that he wasn’t receiving proper care at home. She didn’t think twice. Right away, she and her partner, Will, took steps to create a healthy home life for Dylan. They changed their work schedules, bought a home and within six months, asked for custody.

“Right away, I wanted to give Dylan something that couldn’t be taken away from him. A life skill,” said Anne. Dylan’s school suggested contacting the YMCA to look into swim lessons. “The teachers at school got together and purchased a Y gift card to get him started. Now, Dylan is confident in the water, he can swim the length of the pool.”

In addition, the YMCA approved Anne and Dylan for financial aid making it possible for Dylan to utilize the Y’s Before and After School Care (SAFE) and Summer Camp program, allowing Anne and Will to work full time.

Four years later, Dylan is thriving. He’s doing well in school and enjoys attending the SAFE and Summer Camp program. “Field trips during Summer Camp and friendships formed at SAFE; without aid, we wouldn’t be able to give Dylan these experiences,” said Anne.

“Dylan’s behavior has come a long way,” said Amy Collins, School Aged Child Care director. “We’ve seen significant changes since he been part of a positive environment.”

“I like snow and I love to eat. And at school, we’re reading ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,’” said Dylan.

Anne said, “There are good times. There’s learning moments and hurdles to jump. There are sad moments and moments of joy.”

“Anne and Dylan could be your neighbor,” said a news release from the YMCA. “Dylan could be in your child’s class. Anne could be your co-worker. They are the fabric of the Y and they allow us to live our mission. We serve to strengthen the foundation of our community by ensuring that participants have the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. We strive to nurture the potential of every youth, improve areas of health and well being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors.”

“It takes a village and the Y is honored to be a part of that. Anne and Dylan’s story brings to light the importance of providing aid and the importance of working together. If you have the opportunity to give  – choose to give to an organization that is supporting your neighbor. This is how a contribution to the Y can affect a family directly,” said interim CEO Stephanie Majewski.

To give, click “Ways to Give” or stop into Central or West Branch locations to make a donation at the front desk.