While: Y I Chose the YMCA


Photo by Ashlee Miller

Kaylee Lewallen and I posing for a picture as we dressed up for twin day during our last weeks of summer camp.

It started out as a way to get out of my job at McDonald’s, I was unhappy and in a place where I couldn’t further my career or prepare for my future. Yes, working in fast food can provide you with a multitude of skills to be successful in the “real world” but I was tired of the pace and was looking for a change. I applied to the Waukee Y to do a summer camp just to see how I liked it and was going to try and balance McDonald’s and the summer camp but that fell through. I was nervous if I should even apply to work for them during the school year but didn’t even need to apply. I got an email from Heather Jackson asking if I would be interested in working before and after school care near the end of the summer. I agreed. We set up an interview and got me signed up and registered for all of my training that was required for the job.

With a commitment to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility, the Y ensures that every individual has access to the essentials needed to learn, grow and thrive.”

— YMCA Cause

I started on Aug 23, 2018. I was assigned to Waukee Elementary School under the supervision of Site Coordinator Alicia King. I was very nervous going into this because I didn’t know what to expect and am I happy I took this leap of faith… Now we’re here in 2020 and I could not be happier with my decision to come to the YMCA. it has become a second home and has helped prepare me for my career in education. The YMCA genuinely cares for its employees and strives to make everyone feel included in their programs.

My job in before and after school care has really opened up my eyes to the impact you can have on a child and I’m so grateful every day I took this challenge, I’ve learned so much from this job.

First, I’ve learned children are brutally honest. Children will literally say the random and honest things to you. They will call you fat, tell you they love you and insult you to no end but they’re just way too good at being honest. Kids will tell you if they hate the activity even before you start, explain all their problems and leave you wondering how to even respond to them. I’ve learned to not let them get to you with their comments because most of the time they think they’re being funny which then leads to you having to have a conversation on what you can and cannot say to people.

Second, I learned my passion for working with children. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I felt a calling to it, but my job at the Y solidified that passion for me. I see these kids on their best days and their worst days. I know they’re struggling just as much as you and I, but they deserve to be shown the same respect and compassion as we’re shown. I now know I need to be that positive part of their life because you never know whats going on a home or in school. I have to be a role model and show these kids the way to treat others and how to be respectful and responsible for their actions. I also have to be their support system, as they will get frustrated and spill everything that is bothering them and I’ve just got to be there to help them through the rough patches and make their day better.

Third and lastly, I learned major responsibilities. I was gifted with a great first site coordinator with King then going into my first summer King was given a new job within the YMCA as preschool coordinator and Amber Baessler was sent to Waukee Elementary to be our fill-in coordinator.  It was a hard transition but I learned how to be more responsible in my work ethic and how to be a better employee under Baessler’s leadership. She helped me develop and broaden my skills. The real test of my job at the Y was with my last coordinator, Ryan Laudick. He was a great friend and knew a lot but he was overwhelmed with lots of issues at home and stopped being at the site as much, leading to all of our staff there this year becoming more responsible to make sure the site was running effectively and efficiently.

Although I have experienced some hardship and struggles within my job at the Y, I am forever grateful for those opportunities to learn and grow myself as a Y employee and as a person. The Cause of the YMCA is a cause I will always strive to share and will always back up 100% of the time.