West Cook YMCA


At the Y, we measure our impact by the stories our members tell us. We live our cause every day by strengthening communities, building brighter futures for the children in our building, and by reaching out into our service area to build bridges and make a difference. In addition, our scholarship program provides unique opportunities for those in the community to share in our programming, even if they cannot afford it.

Here you will find stories from our members- stories about how the Y has made their lives better. If you would like to share your story, please fill out our Story Form here.



I was asked to tell my story about why I am so dedicated to supporting the Annual Support Campaign at the Y.

Well, about 3 or 4 years ago, I didn’t know why I was becoming sick. I knew that I had reached my all-time heaviest weight of 300 pounds plus. I was hospitalized several times and found out that I was killing myself due to stress which caused the weight gain. The doctors told me that I had to lose weight or my brain would continue to push on my eye sockets and eventually I will go blind. So I had 2 options, which was stop stressing and lose weight or have an operation where they would go through my brain and place a shunt through my neck to my stomach for the rest of my life. 

I decided to live not just for me, but for my son. I wanted to change my life but thought where do I start. I checked all around and everything was so pricey, I couldn’t afford the cost. I then called the West Cook YMCA and asked about pricing. I remember someone explaining to me about what the Y had to offer and pricing. I said at the time that it was too much. Then they said, “We have a scholarship program.” So I came in and got the application for the scholarship and gave it back. Still so unhappy and depressed, I could barely walk down the street.

I received a letter in the mail stating that I had been approved and I was excited but also afraid. I was afraid because I didn’t want people to criticize me, however I still decided to take that leap of faith and go. My first experience was great. Everyone was so nice and helpful. Everyone was here for the same reason. I went from wearing a size 28 in clothes to a size 18, and all I can say is the YMCA saved my life. I feel so passionate about this cause because if we didn’t support this campaign, people like me wouldn’t get the chance to experience how great it feels to be on a healthy path or just experience the Y at its greatest and all we have to offer. Not only did I become a dedicated member, I am not an employee and I push to support the Annual Campaign that helped save my life.

I urge you to pledge, if not for yourself do it for someone your love.



I started coming to the Y when I was 7 or 8 with my sister. I learned how to swim here and participated in YBL (Youth Basketball League). I played in the league from 4th to 8th grade when I switched to playing football at school. I was always a good kid, but as I got older the anger I had been holding onto began to erupt. When I was younger, when I would get angry I would just go to my room and cry or just sit, and hold in the anger from issues at home. Then as I got older I started to act out at school, not at home, at home if my mom needs me to do something I do it. But at school and then at the Y, I would fight with kids the same age as me and I started mouthing off to authority figures. Fighting helped me to release anger. Besides playing football, I got involved in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) class to help release the anger I have, but the anger still bubbles out in other relationships.

Then an incident happened at school and I got into a fight, before there were no real consequences, but this time I was dropped from drivers ed and put in this really restrictive program that I don’t like. Then, this summer, I came to the Y to hang out and got into an issue with a couple of Y staff members and was kicked out of the Y and was grounded for a very long time at home. After being kicked out, my mom set up a meeting with Brian (Yarbrough) to see if I could come back. I knew I was a good kid, I just wasn’t showing it. After a lot of talking, Brian said I needed to show him that I deserved to come back. He invited me to help with a back to school event he does with a group he is a part of and then I had to do “community service” projects at the Y like blowing up new exercise balls – a LOT of exercise balls.

Brian has motived me to work hard and get back in the Y and to get out of the program at school. If not for Brian, I probably wouldn’t be working so hard to get out of the program. He gives me motivation to be better, and without him, I would probably still be kicked out of the Y.  I am glad to be back in the Y though, It is a good place to come and chill. It has a lot of things to do here, and is a fun place to hang out with friends.

My goals now are to get out of the restrictive program at school, keep my grades up, graduate high school early and go to college and become a psychologist for kids: to help them stay out of the trouble I got in.


Annie - A Scholarship Recipient

It’s an event for me- an exciting event. It starts at night when I lay my head down and get myself excited to wake up, make my breakfast, get on the bus, and enter the Y. I wasn’t able to do those things before. I used to rely on my brother and daughter to cook my meals for me and help me shower because I couldn’t physically do it. Now, I can. I can walk through the building to enter the Wellness Center and get on a bike for an hour. Before, I would need a break after walking through the gate to the vending area.

For me, it started fifteen years ago. I used to be smaller, with the ability to eat whatever I wanted without gaining weight, but then I got sick. First it was cancer, then multiple illnesses followed, which prevented the treatment of the cancer. For the last thirteen years, I have had a friend with me wherever I go- a cane- and I am ready to retire this friend! Last January I was in the hospital for three months straight, and I decided afterwards to make a change. I wanted to get my LIFE back, and that is what the Y is doing for me. It is helping me get my LIFE back!

If not for those who give to the Y, I wouldn’t be able to get on the bike or even be here! After my workout, I’m able to go to the computer lab to research healthy foods and meals because I can now make my own breakfast and lunch. I have an 18-year-old daughter, and I want to see her through college, marriage, and children. I want to travel with her! I have goals, and the Y’s Scholarship Program is the reason I’m achieving them!

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