The Unmatched Resilience of Angie Manheim

featured-angie-manheimAt age 36, Angie Manheim, a mother of five from New Lenox, was diagnosed with arthritis. Year by year, her condition worsened, and by age 50, her mobility had decreased significantly. Her kids, Angie recalled, had to take care of her.

“I couldn’t do anything for myself,” she said. “It’s been a long, hard ride, believe me.”

While on a family vacation in the Lake of the Ozarks, Angie made a life-changing discovery: Swimming relieved the pain. Suddenly, her joints were no longer stiff.

Luckily, back home, a brand new YMCA had just been built—the Smith Family YMCA on Briggs Street—complete with a swimming pool. When she returned, signing up was a no-brainer. Angie began using the pool regularly and her health steadily improved.

“After about eight months, the staff saw how it helped me and asked me if I’d run a class,” Angie said.

Despite having any prior experience teaching, she agreed.

“My first group had 12 people,” she said. “I would just go through the motions I had gone through, and before you know it I had over 60 people.”

That was 37 years ago. Today, the class, now known as Rusty Hinges, remains an incredibly popular program among seniors who have arthritis and other ailments. Angie, at 87-years-old, still leads class three days a week. Read More

My Y Memory: Michele Brown

IMG_7525In this photo, I was probably about eight-years-old, and my brother was about six. My mom signed us up for a week of day camp (like Galowich’s), where you went every day for a week. Our camp was at an actual campsite, though. We were bused from a local grade school to the campsite each day. I remember playing a lot of outdoor games, especially capture the flag. I was pretty little, so I remember being disappointed that I was captured so early in the game.

I vividly remember making a plaster of paris casts of animal footprints in the ground. I made a deer print casting. It was one of my favorite things I did that week. On the last night, we had an overnight, complete with campfire, stories, songs and s’mores.  I remember feeling very grown-up and independent when I walked around the campsite in the dark with my flashlight. I’ve always loved campfires, and I’m sure it started with that first one. My brother and I only went that one week, but I never forgot it.

I’ve sent all three of my girls to a sleep-away camp when they were younger. In two weeks, my youngest child, my 12-year-old son Josh, is going to YMCA Camp Benson for the second time. He had a great experience last year, and this year he’s old enough to do a few more things he couldn’t do last year. I hope to continue to send him in the years to come.

Michele Brown is the Membership Director for the Galowich and Smith Family YMCAs.

Staff Q&A: Melissa Parker

1231-YMCAAs a teenager, Melissa Parker volunteered at the Y as a junior camp counselor and helped out with youth basketball games, keeping score and running the clocks. Nowadays, she (officially) works at the Smith Family YMCA, where she’s one of the first faces you see when you step through the door. Although Melissa mainly works at the membership desk, in the past she has worked as a camp counselor and offsite coordinator for the Central City YMCA. All in all, Melissa is a dedicated, enthusiastic Y staff member, who is truly a joy to be around. Check out our Q&A below!

The Y: Were you in any Y programs growing up?
Melissa Parker: I participated in cheerleading in fourth and fifth grade and I was actually a part of the first Teen Achievers class. The very first year—it was kind of like an ‘experiment.’

Wow, that’s super cool.
I actually chaperoned a trip for them last year. I loved it. Those kids are amazing. It was fun. It was a pretty cool trip. We visited between seven and nine colleges. I was grateful for the experience. I was glad to be a part of their learning experience.

What about nowadays? Do you use the facilities at the Y?
My family and I come to work out every morning. My parents get in the water. My sisters and I will go back in the gym and work out. We get up at like 6:30 a.m. It’s rough, but we make it! Five days a week.

If you’re not at the Y, what are you up to?
Church. That’s it. I go from work to church to home. That’s kind of like my life. Church and the Y.

Excellent. What’s your most memorable Y Story?
A story that I’ll keep with me is a story of one of my campers. He started when he was six. He had been with me for like seven years. He had some self-esteem issues and there were certain things we could never get him to do. We’d try to push him every year! There was an ice skating trip during my last year as an offsite coordinator and I asked him to go around the rink just one time. So he put his ice skates on and we went around half way and he was like “Okay I need to go back.” I said “You can’t, you might as well finish! You’re half way there!” So he finished it and I was so proud. I said “You did it! That’s all you had to do!” He was happy with himself. He stopped saying “I can’t” and he actually did it. It was a boost of confidence for him. This is why I do this—to see these kids’ faces. To see their reactions. To try to get them to just try something new. It was an achievement for the Y. It was an achievement for me. It was especially an achievement for him, which is what’s most important. I was happy for him. To this day I am.

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