Working at the YMCA is an experience that can help individuals in any stage of their life. And, whether you are a retiree looking to stay active and embark on a second career, or someone hoping to use their spare time to make a positive impact on their community, the Y is the perfect place to start.
Mike Burcham (age 67), Nancee Furlan (65), Michael Auld (61), and Debbie Stevens (56) have all become lifeguards at the C.W. Avery Family YMCA in recent years, and they are enjoying every minute of it!
“I swim here regularly and I heard from (Aquatics Director) Cindy Moss that they were hiring lifeguards,” Burcham said. “I had been a lifeguard back in the 70’s, so I ended up taking the course to retrain. The pool is so well organized and safety is the number one priority of everyone on the deck.”
Furlan, a retired teacher, also had previous experience as a lifeguard.
“I used to work at the downtown Joliet Y when I was in college. I was worried at first about whether I’d still pass the swim tests, but it worked out fine,” she said.
Auld, who first joined the Y in 2006, said that being able to give back to the community in which he’s been a long-time member is a rewarding aspect of joining the part-time staff team at the C.W. Avery Family YMCA.
“I had the time on my hands and this gives me an opportunity to do something helpful,” he said.
For Stevens, seeing her daughter go through lifeguard certification was a key factor in becoming a lifeguard herself.
“My daughter was getting ready to become a lifeguard at her college in New York and for a portion of her training a family member had to be on-site. Since I had to be there, I figured I’d take the class as well and get certified myself,” Steven said. “When I came back to Plainfield, I saw the need for lifeguards and, since I was trying to get myself back into swimming anyway, I decided to join the team.”
Though they took their own paths to start working at the Y, the journey since starting on staff has been one taken together.
“We know that there is an age gap between us and the majority of the group that works in the aquatics department,” Furlan said. “So it’s been nice to have others in the same peer group going through the same experience. I’ve felt much more comfortable and we’ve all started to bridge the gap as a group.”
Aquatics Director Cindy Moss expressed that the group provides invaluable contributions to the lifeguard staff team.
“Our staff is reflective of the greater Y community in that we bring together individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds and career experience,” Moss said. “Mike, Nancee, Michael and Debbie have all done an amazing job and we are so thankful for their dedication to keeping Y members safe when using our pools.”
In addition to collaborating with other lifeguards, building relationships with Y members themselves has been a highlight of working at the Y.
“One of the things I enjoy is being able to chat with the swimmers that come in every day and have become regular friends,” Stevens said.
“The interactions are fun,” Auld said. “It’s amazing to see kids progress from being afraid to jump in the water to being totally excited about swimming.”
Burcham said that he has been asked by multiple members about working at the Y.
“A few of them are only a year or two away from retirement and are looking for something new. I tell them how great it is to work here and that I really look forward to every day,” he said. “When you watch the families enjoy time together and you’re one of the ones helping keep them safe, you walk away feeling good about your day at work.”
On behalf of the Y, we would like to thank Mike, Nancee, Michael, and Debbie for their continued service. If you would like to join the Y’s aquatics team, apply online today.