YMCA Staff Member Gives Back

Korene Aldrich, a feisty 18-year-old staff member at the Jamestown Area YMCA, has seen her fair share of hardships and difficulties. While small in stature (she’s pushing all of 5 feet, 5 inches), she more than makes up for it with her heart of gold and her love for the organization that’s always been there for her.

This firecracker has had her share of ups and downs through much of her life. At the YMCA, she found acceptance, love and support at a place some may think of as only a gym.

“I grew up at the YMCA,” Aldrich said. “The people here were and still are some of the kindest, most accepting people I’ve ever met. There’s no judgment here based off of race, income or social status.”

Furthermore, for this former youthful camper, the bounds of friendship one makes at the YMCA and Y-Camps tend to stay with members for a lifetime. “I loved coming to camp as a child, it was so much fun and I looked up to my camp counselors as role models,” Aldrich said. “To this day, some 14 years later, I’m still in touch with some of my friends and counselors from camp.”

Not content to just enjoy the high quality, affordable programs that the Y offers, Aldrich decided to join the YMCA as a staff member. Doing so, she felt she could give back and help other young kids just like she was when she first arrived. “I work in the child watch room, I host birthday parties, patrol the Y as building staff and of course I’m a day camp counselor,” added a perky and proud Aldrich.

In addition to working at the Y, Aldrich (a tiny version of “Mighty Mouse”) can be found at the YMCA during her time off of work hitting the gym hard. “I love to take some of the fitness classes the Y offers,” said Aldrich. “Pound is one of my all-time favorite classes. The aerobic and fitness coordinator at the Y, Alana Moore, is a hip and motivated young mom. She’s so great.”

Aldrich has enrolled in college and has some lofty plans to make a greater impact on the area. “I’m going to Canisius College in Buffalo,” she said, adding that she will major in political science.

Aldrich, given her rough upbringing and the incredible uphill battles she’s fought throughout her life, has turned into a remarkable woman. Especially if you ask those around her.

“I’m very impressed with her,” said Mark G. Eckendorf, the chief executive officer at the Jamestown Area YMCA. “To see a person like Korene, who started out here as one of our campers and worked her way up to becoming staff, is amazing given the different situations she’s been in.”

The Y is many things to many people. For some, it’s just a gym. To others – such as Aldrich – it’s a place of refuge, a place of sanctuary, and a first job. The YMCA may have helped break a violent and nasty cycle for one strong young lady.

When people have conversations about our local YMCA, rest assure that Aldrich has assuredly earned her title of “Y-Strong” and “Y-Four-Life!”


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