Making a Difference

Salar Damavandi is an energetic young man who has been utilizing the pool at the Lake Anna YMCA for two years. Salar comes to the pool twice per week to swim with his father, Mo.

Salar has autism and lives in a home with his peers. Mo enjoys the time that he gets to spend with Salar in the pool and has noticed positive changes in Salar’s routine and behavior since he has been swimming with him. At home, Salar doesn’t enjoy many activities so his time in the pool is his main source of exercise. He swims and plays vigorously while he is at the Y. Mo has noticed that Salar sleeps better on the nights that he comes to swim. While swimming, Salar communicates more than he does in other settings. He is able to express his wants and interacts well with the YMCA staff.

Swimming has become an incentive for Salar. He follows directions and completes tasks better when he knows he will get to swim at the Y. Mo states that it is not just the facilities and the water that have been beneficial for his son; the support he receives from the YMCA staff has been the greatest benefit. Member service representatives, housekeeping staff and the aquatics staff have all played a role in making swim time at the Y a positive experience for Salar. 

Salar's swim time is funded through the YMCA Annual Campaign thanks to a partnership with the Drew Howell Scholarship program which provides swim lessons for those with Autism. 

Young at Heart
Twenty-five years ago, Willa Boling retired from Ohio Bell with 35 years of service. It wasn't until age 88 in December of 2013, however, that Willa decided to join the Lake Anna YMCA because of medical concerns. 
Willa was recently diagnosed with severe spinal stenosis and sciatica which requires her to use a walker. Willa felt that she would be forced to remain sedentary. Her doctor prescribed physical therapy at Lake Anna Summa Physical Therapy, and Willa had subsequently been accepted for the free month membership at the YMCA through the after-therapy program. Willa loved the fact that she could be mobile again. 
Mrs. Boling never realized that she could join the Y as a woman. She thought it was a "man thing." Being on a very limited budget and with the help of an Annual Campaign Scholarship, Willa joined the Lake Anna YMCA.
Willa now faithfully participates in Warm Water Arthrities class three days per week.
"When I wake up and see it's Y day, I'm so happy," said Willa. "I don't feel like I'm 90."
Will feels truly blessed with her new Y friends that she has made and says they have enriched her life and keep her going.

Building Confidence 

Jerod Robinson and his family joined the Lake Anna YMCA in January 2014. Shortly thereafter, Jerod signed up for personal training. He has worked with YMCA personal trainer Shane Dantz and has seen some life-changing results. As of August 2015, Jerod has lost 39 pounds. He is now 15 years old and in great shape.

"I have more energy, it's easier to move, and I feel better," said Jerod. "I'm more motivated and positive because of my extra energy."

Jerod has attributed much of his success to the Lake Anna YMCA and its staff members, citing the Y's safe, enjoyable and friendly environment. 

"I feel better talking and interacting with people much more," said Jerod. "Overall I am more confident having the weight off and it has benefited my life."

Jerod never liked to workout before starting his personal training at the Y, but now that has changed.

"I now look forward to working out," Jerod said. "I feel and look much better and live a much healthier lifestyle now."

Obsessed with the YMCA

The West family moved to Barberton from St. Louis in August of 2015, and they were quickly introduced to the YMCA through the 3rd grade water safety program at the Lake Anna YMCA. This 6-week program each fall is a partnership between the Barberton schools, Barberton Community Foundation and Lake Anna YMCA which gives every 3rd grader in Barberton the opportunity to learn how to swim. In the past 5 years alone, over 1,300 kids have been impacted through this program.

"Oak quickly became obsessed with the YMCA," said Oak's mom Gwen. "He went from a small private school in St. Louis to a large public school in Barberton so the social time really helped Oak adjust well to the new environment."

Earlier this year, Oak was afraid to get his face wet. After the program, his parents were impressed to see him not only full submerge, but also float independently. Oak said his favorite thing he learned through the program is a "reaching assist" where the kids learn how to use various flotation devices to help save someone in the pool from the deck. Oak enjoyed the program so much he said he wants to be a YMCA teacher and lifeguard when he grows up.

The West's are still in transition finding work in the area, so they applied for a membership scholarship in the meantime so their whole family can enjoy the impact Oak has received from the Y.

A Beacon in the Storm- July, 2013 
After 16 consecutive days of rain pushed the limits of Barberton, Ohio’s waterways and storm sewers, the City was hit with five inches of rain in a few short hours on July 10, 2013. 

The worst flooding the City had ever seen displaced hundreds of people!

Barberton Mayor Bill Judge reached out to Brian Bidlingmyer, the Executive Director of the Lake YMCA, and Brian assured him the Y would help in any way they could.  The Y served as a Red Cross Disaster Relief Shelter for displaced residents. Over nine days, the Y housed fifteen individuals and distributed clean up kits, clothing and toiletries to those in need.

Mayor Judge expressed his heart felt gratitude to the Y and went on to explain, “the Lake Anna Y coordinated relief efforts with the City, the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, and the Summit County Public Health Department, as well as volunteers from the community.“

Julie and her husband Chris were evacuated from a local hotel and stayed at the Y.  “We only had a few minutes to grab whatever we could. The water was rising very fast,” Julie gasped.  “We just grabbed a few clothes and fled.”

As the City of Barberton started down the road to recovery, the damage to some homes was beyond repair. The Y took action, working with the local Howard Hanna Real Estate Agency to find housing for those residents. Thanks to the generous support of donors to the Disaster Relief Fund, seven families were provided with both housing and furnishings.

“I simply cannot thank the Y enough for all they have done for us,” said Julie.  “It means so much to me to know there are people out there who care!”

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Contact Information

Lake Anna YMCA
500 W. Hopocan Avenue
Barberton, Ohio 44203
(330) 745-9622