CNS

More than a gym and a swim: The Y’s impact on our community

The YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City is more than a place to work out. The nonprofit organization aims to bring together the community. Photo provided by YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City.
The YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City is more than a place to work out. The nonprofit organization aims to bring together the community. Photo provided by YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City.

Tina Pastran and her family had been members at their local YMCA for years. Swimming, exercise, affordable family fun—they appreciated the perks of a Y membership, but never knew what it meant to them until crisis hit.

“In 2011, I was getting very sick,” Pastran recalled. “Eventually, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.”

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the central nervous system. MS causes the immune system to attack the protective sheath surrounding nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. This causes communication problems between the brain and the rest of your body. Eventually, the disease can cause permanent nerve damage.

“It’s an emotionally, physically and financially devastating disease,” she said.

For the family, this meant a lot of things, including potentially discontinuing their membership at the Y because of the financial burden the disease had placed upon the family. However, one day Pastran learned that scholarships were available – not only for low-income families, but for people who were in need due to special circumstances.

“Receiving the scholarship gave me the opportunity to continue the physical therapy at the pool,” she said.

Tina Pastran takes advantage of the Y's pool supporting her therapy. Photo provided YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City.
Tina Pastran takes advantage of the Y’s pool supporting her therapy. Photo provided YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City.

She soon realized the Y had become part of their family in so many ways.

“With MS, sometimes I was so exhausted that I just checked my kids in so they could play in a safe place and have fun,” she said. “I just sat there. It had an amazing impact on all of us.”

Even her husband took advantage of the programs at the Y to destress.

“It’s not easy to be a caregiver,” Pastran said.

Everybody knows the Y, but not everybody knows the impact the organization has in the community.

“We are much more than a gym and a swim,” said Mike Roark, chief operations officer and longtime member of the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City. “We are a place where everyone has value.”

One of the oldest nonprofit organizations in Oklahoma, the Y is today a modern, cause-driven community organization that stretches far beyond its walls to make…