Lake County YMCA focuses on physical and mental health – News-Herald

Lake County YMCA staff often hear from members how the Y is like a second family.

This is something that Kelly Penzenik, executive director of the West End YMCA in Willoughby and director of marketing and communications for the organization, has taken note of.

“Not just the other members, but they see the staff as part of their YMCA family and how they’re impacting their lives, whether it’s through conversations or through the program they’re teaching,” Penzenik said. “There are so many aspects of the staff here that just make it different.”

For the past few weeks, the Y has been hosting holiday get-togethers and socials for those who want to come, spend time with others, and talk about what they’re doing for the holidays.

“We had a group of volunteers and staff put together a Thanksgiving dinner at the West End Y,” Penzenik said. “That was freely available to anyone in the community. We had our 5K Turkey Day here (Central in Painesville) with over 1400 runners.”

Located at 933 Mentor Ave., the Central YMCA is undergoing renovations to create a more welcoming environment, something you might not see in all places, Penzenik said.

“Here they welcome you with a smile and with your first name,” he said. “How many other gyms can you go to and they know you by name?”

Also, what makes the Y different is that it never turns anyone away for not being able to pay, Penzenik said.

“Everybody, regardless of who they are, what they do, is welcome here,” he said. “There is room for them, and ultimately every employee here works here because they understand that the people who come here are looking to write a better story.”

Whether it’s youth in Y’s programs learning to swim or becoming leaders, as well as adults seeking social interactions, all members are trying to write better stories for themselves, Penzenik said.

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