Brian Garrett

"It has been an unbelievable blessing to live the student side and the counselor side of the After School program at the YMCA."

I grew up in a family of three: my dad, my mom and myself. It wasn't the perfect family, but it was perfect for me.

When I was 12, my family changed drastically when my father died suddenly. This happened 3 days before I started 8th grade and my mom panicked. Up until then, I was able to go home after school because my dad worked at an auto mechanic store that was literally right behind our house. My mom was afraid for me to be left alone, with my mourning after school.

My mom reached out to Libby Dalton at the YMCA and told her what was going on. She was a newly single mother without the additional income to put me in a daycare. Mrs. Dalton told my mom not to worry and that I could go to After School and they would get everything taken care of. This was the first instance the YMCA was able to bless me and my family.

While at the YMCA I was quiet, and I kept to myself. I had literally just lost my best friend and my security. It would have been easy for me to become even more withdrawn and become just another statistic of a boy who had lost a father and became something I may have not been proud of today.

But one counselor, who had known my family a little through our church, came in every day and asked me about my day. She was intentional about making me feel wanted and safe, but she never forced conversation with me. Her name was Stevie Corn, and she became one of my best friends. She made such an impact on my life by offering an ear to listen to me and by encouraging me. She made what was the worst year of my life bearable.

I only spent a year at the YMCA After School program, but it stayed with me forever. I learned how to be a good listener and an even better friend. It became important to me to use my time to help other kids and volunteer to do sports camps with my church.

After high school and college that had me working and being successful in the banking industry, but I wasn't as fulfilled doing that as I knew I would be working with children. So, I decided to go back to school and work on becoming an elementary school teacher. I knew I would need a different job while I finished school and I wanted to work with children as soon as possible.

So, I checked the YMCA and saw that they needed After School counselors. I applied,  and now I am getting to serve the children of our community just like I was served so long ago. It has been an unbelievable blessing to live the student side and the counselor side of the After School program at the YMCA and know just how big of an impact it can make on the child and the community.