Fixture at YMCA retiring after 32 years
Published 5:53 pm Wednesday, November 24, 2010
For many families, their local YMCA serves as the backdrop to many memories like swimming lessons, after-school activities and the workouts that made losing all those extra pounds possible.
For Niles’ Margaret Haines, her job has been to share in those experiences and memories as an employee at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA.
And she has been doing so for the last 32 years.
“It just started out with me taking a class,” Haines said. “I never thought, I’m going to be here for so many years.”
A wife and mother who loves to dance, Haines joined a belly dancing class offered at the YMCA when it was still located on Main Street.
“I took the belly dancing class … just for something to do,” she said. “It was a class that was being offered and it was interesting. That was in 1978.”
After making her way through the class, Haines began teaching classes at the YMCA.
“I started teaching belly dancing classes and later on it worked into exercise classes and from there I worked with children in the gym and swim program,” she said. “I taught the children the gym part of it. I taught 3- and 4-year-olds.”
Since she began at the YMCA, Haines has taught various classes including a prenatal and healthy back class and has worked as a fitness coordinator and at the front desk.
Thinking back to the organization’s move to Front Street and a new modernized facility, Haines describes that time as “bittersweet.”
“Being in the old building, starting out there, everything was very familiar. It was comfortable,” she said. “Then moving to a new facility you’re very apprehensive — you don’t know what’s going to happen. It was exciting but you kind of miss the old. Now that we’re in the new building knowing that it was the best move we could have had.”
Another move awaits Haines, from the familiar surroundings of the YMCA and her coworkers to the possibilities that await her with her upcoming retirement.
“There are things that I want to do,” she said. “Spending more time at home with my husband. My husband is retired. Wanting to spend time with him and thinking that I want to, maybe do some other things, maybe travel a little bit.”
Though she’s still unsure about what to do once she retires from the YMCA, Haines is certain about one thing — the importance of an organization like the YMCA to communities like Niles.
“The YMCA is very important to a community,” she said. “I feel it teaches social skills to the children … In the community I feel first of all it’s a safe place for children to learn good values, health … it’s just a very good environment.
“They make a lot of memories,” said Haines. “A lot of friends are made there. Lifetime friends. They learn some of the skills of life that they’re going to use out there in life.”
It’s safe to say Haines has made a few friends during her time at the YMCA herself.
“Oh my,” she said. “I have grown so much. It helped me step out of my comfort zone. I met many, many people who are friends, many, many people who have come through that door have helped me also maybe just by smiling at me too when they come through.
“Just being there is a good atmosphere,” Haines said, adding her coworkers are another joy of the job. “I enjoy working with them, it’s like a family.”
A family with plenty of memories.