Y Story


Every day, the Greater Naples YMCA makes a lasting impact on the lives of those it serves.

Below are stories of Y members and their journeys. These stories are just a few illustrations of how the Greater Naples YMCA is able to impact lives and the overall wellbeing of individuals and families throughout Collier County each and every day!

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Supporting Working Families

The Y has created a loving and caring environment for my kids to come to each day. As a single mom working to make ends meet, I know they are in good hands when I drop them off. My one year old gets excited just walking up to the door because he lives his teachers so much and can’t wait to start his day.

The Y is a great place for your whole family to establish a healthy way of living, develop friendships and foster community support!

We have benefitted from the Y's preschool, swim lessons, gym and youth sports. Everyone we encounter is encouraging and motivates us to be the best we can be.

- Anonymous Y Family

Maria's Story


“Security, confidence and growth are just some words describing how my family has changed since the day we first walked into the Naples YMCA. Our family was once burdened with a difficult past, and as a mother, I was broken, praying that someone could help. I wasn’t confident or even sure I could carry on. But then my life changed, I contacted the YMCA, asked for help and immediately received a scholarship for membership and child care for my two girls. That first day at the Y resulted in immediate friendships, a sense of safety and hope for my family.

Now a year later, I am back to work, have many new friends and support because of the Y, and my girls are developing without worry, knowing they have the support and a second home at the YMCA”. - Kristin Koch


Sixty five year old Y member, Debby Damgaard, came to Naples on holiday with a mission to learn how to swim correctly. She grew up not spending a lot of time in the water, but when she did it became a challenge. Coming to the Y, she noticed the clean and warm water and how her instructor, Melissa WIlson, started her off slow and worked on getting her comfortable in the water first. Melissa showed Debby step by step the various strokes in the water while standing beside her. Debby realized that to learn the basics of these skills she would need practice. At each lesson Debby learned tips that helped her gain strength, momentum and reconfirm what she learned from each previous lesson. At the end of her lessons she was able to swim in the deep end and float on her back.

She recommends that everyone signs up for lessons at the YMCA so they to can learn the important skill of swimming.


I completed 7 personal training sessions with the recommended trainer, Joe Morello.

I was skeptical at first but Joe exceeded my expectations and made a difference in the way I work out.

He is focused, professional, and sensitive to my specific needs. During our time, I have lost 6 pounds and established a workout schedule that I am using successfully.

Outstanding Job Joe!

Sincerely, Al Kostanoski


Meet an unforgettable member with an incredible Y story - Cindy Coe, who believes the YMCA saved her life - twice.

Her story began on Mother’s Day, 2008, when a freak accident almost robbed her of her left leg. After six weeks of hospitalization and lying in bed for months stuffed with powerful drugs, she worried about becoming addicted to pain medication and never being able to fully function again. What to do?

Cindy determined to make do with Tylenol. But she still needed to recover from her accident, and learn to walk again. Since her medical insurance for physical therapy had been exhausted, she sought exercise opportunities at the Y. There, a terrific yoga instructor convinced her to try a class.

As Cindy was guided to a new level of competence by an excellent trainer, with a physical therapy background, she learned how to walk again. Amazed at her rapid recovery, she sincerely believes the Y saved her both physically and mentally.

As a lady used to winning battles, Cindy has managed several businesses. But a few years later, she found herself in need of another miracle. The devastating loss of her beloved husband, Charlie, lead to a deep, lasting depression.

Then, in January of this year, along came her second life-saving YMCA connection. With the encouragement of her friends and family (including two daughters who are athletes) Cindy joined the YMCA’s pickleball program. She had found an activity with people like her, kind, supportive, and non-judgmental, and most importantly, a sense of belonging. Today, you can still find Cindy scurrying around pickleball courts, helping others. You could say, the Y is still saving her today!


Shirley Lytwyn began coming to the Greater Naples YMCA with her husband Peter five months ago in order to introduce more physical activity into their daily lives. After viewing all of the different programs the Y has to offer, they knew this was the place they belonged. One day while taking a Tai Chi class they noticed, through the windows of their exercise room, groups of people playing pickle ball. Although Shirley had never heard of pickle ball, she and her husband decided to give it a try. Immediately they found it very entertaining and fun. Shirley says that it reminded her of when she used to play badminton in her youth. “It’s an easy game to play, with a light weight ball, but more importantly it’s a very social game. I am constantly meeting new friends.” Pickle ball is a game that both Shirley and her husband can participate in and enjoy. They particularly enjoy competing as partners where they can both grow in the sport as a team.

“Pickle ball has changed my life physically, mentally, and socially.”- Shirley Lytwyn



8 year old Jackson Fox participated in the YMCA’s youth basketball program shortly after moving to Naples, Florida from Connecticut. Without any new friends, Jackson had a hard time adjusting to his new surroundings. After a few months of living in Naples, Jackson joined the basketball team, his first attempt at playing the sport. With weekly practices, games and something to look forward to, Jackson’s confidence quickly took off!

“Being on a team with great coaches and kind and friendly children really helped Jack adjust so please let your children know that kind words and team sports can really make a difference in someone’s life. Big win aside, we truly appreciate everyone for helping us with this transition.” - Susan Fox


Whether you come to the Y to work, play or give, we want to know what the Y means to you! Share your own story about the Y! We may even include your story in a video or brochure!

Click here and submit your story!