A special thank you to Angie Tranel for sharing her Y story with us!

Community is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about the Missoula Y. My experience with the Y started in the late 1990s when I took a job at the Welcome Desk and became a member. I saw the impact the Y had on our community and witnessed many people benefiting from its services – which extended far beyond the gym. The community, mission, and spirit of the Y resonated with me in those early years, and when my husband and I had children, they too became involved with this great organization.

As a new mother, I sought ways to get out of the house and the Y was my first choice. I left my children with the drop off childcare staff while I exercised in the gym or attended group fitness classes. During this time, I met other mothers, made new friends and, ultimately, developed life-long friendships. The generosity and spirit of the Y’s community continued to thrive. A group of us who used the Y’s drop off childcare services teamed up to raise funds for a staff member who had missed a few weeks of work for health reasons. I remember thinking what an amazing group of people the Y brings together and that I was glad to be part of it.

My children have also benefited from the Y’s community. In drop off childcare they made friends with their peers, and years later, took those friendships beyond the Y into kindergarten and grade school. When my children were a bit older, they participated in sports programs at the Y and gained valuable team-building skills and confidence that they’ve taken into their young lives. My oldest son took swimming lessons taught by a college student which eventually led to a strong and trusting relationship. While he was initially timid, the swim instructor’s kindness and encouragement boosted my son’s confidence in the pool. I will never forget the sadness my son felt when the instructor left for college outside of Missoula – it was in that moment that I was again reminded of the Y’s impact on my family.

I currently serve on the board of directors and assist with the Annual Campaign, which is the Y’s multi-month campaign that focuses on building a strong community to raise funds for the financial assistance program. The financial assistance program provides funding for children, families, individuals and seniors who do not have the financial means to pay for camps, sports programs or memberships. Every dollar raised makes a huge difference for those in need, and Missoula’s community is one that answers the call, in understanding and in caring.

I’ve experienced the Y through many different roles over the past 17 years – as an employee, a member, a mother, a board member, and a fundraiser – and I am still in awe of its impact and the community it fosters. It is inspiring.

As told to Caitlyn Brady, Missoula Y Marketing Intern.