Commentary: Leaving the Y

20-year member laments the prospect of a great loss

Harriet Cuthbert

I cannot believe the title of this column is Leaving the Y. That was the first thought that came to mind after I wrote the headline.

I could have written Loving the Y; Meeting up at the Y; Exercising at the Y, etc. All those headings, and many more, would be appropriate.

But the one subject I never, ever considered when I joined the fitness center 20 years ago was leaving the Y.

I have written many columns about the Sarasota Y, all of them very positive, focusing on points such as how happily the staff welcomes members when they check in; how eager people seem as they walk in to begin their activities; and the communal feeling of warmth I always have when I am there, along with a great sense of overall comfort and security.

I absolutely cannot say enough positive things about my volunteer job in the child watch center. Staff members Fina and Hailey do an excellent job of maintaining peace, and the children seem to love playing alone with a seemingly endless choice of toys or making new friends with whom they can make up new stories and games.

And the babies. Who does not love babies? Their parents would not trust the staff to watch over them while the parents exercise unless the parents felt tremendous confidence that their babies would be well taken care of and safe.

I love working in the child watch center.

I have grown so attached to the Y in my 20 years there that I consider it part of my family. I feel the Y has had a very strong impact on my mental, physical and emotional well being. The familiarity of friends and the ambiance are keys to that connection, along with the many choices of activities I have there.

It is the knowledge that I can just sit on a comfy chair in the lobby, doing absolutely nothing and still feeling wonderful, that draws me back to the Y.

And now we are losing all this comfort? All this camaraderie?  All this connection?

I have no answers, only one last question: Why are we losing the Y?