Thirteen years ago, my husband, Kris, and I went through an extended period of hardship as young parents, and it was the Eugene Family YMCA that supported us during this critical time.
It started with a 911 call when our 4-month-old daughter Emma went into anaphylactic shock, after exposure to dairy. Over the next several months, Emma developed the most severe case of eczema local allergy specialist Dr. Jacobson had ever seen. Her case was so severe, she required an adult to hold her to prevent her from damaging her skin. Kris had to close his business so he could stay with her and we had to find childcare for our 2-year-old son, Will. With doctor bills piling up and our new family down an income, Kris suggested we call the Y for help.
The Y offered us financial assistance so that Will could be cared for while Kris cared for Emma at home and I was able to make a career change so that I could provide for our family’s new way of life.
Over the next couple years, Dr. Jacobson helped us get Emma’s condition under control. She eventually learned how to sit, walk and crawl, toddler milestones delayed because of her condition. Dr. Jacobson told her story at conferences around the country.
When Emma had met the age requirement for Y childcare at two and a half, she was welcomed with open arms, despite the extra care that she required. I met with staff on a weekly basis to review meals and activities to ensure her safety. It took a while to get over the paralyzing fear of dropping her off everyday, waiting for the call that she was being rushed to the hospital -- the call never came. The Y went above and beyond to keep her safe while Kris and I got back on our feet.
Today, Emma is a healthy, beautiful teenager, thanks in no small part to the love and care she received at the Y. My husband has a thriving company and I have been blessed with a successful career at McKenzie River Broadcasting. I don’t know how we would have made it through that time of stress and uncertainty, without the Y’s financial and emotional support.
Many people think of the Y as simply a place to work out, shoot hoops or take a swim. But, as my own story demonstrates, the Y is so much more than that. The Y is this wonderful cause-driven non-profit organization, led by volunteers, dedicated to helping people of all walks of life to thrive, no matter where they are in their journey. Our community is stronger, I am stronger, and my family is stronger because of the Y.