Joe S.

Lakewood Family YMCA

Most of us may never know the price of freedom as intimately as Joe does. He entered the YMCA fresh off a tough deployment with the U.S. Army and found himself in an entirely new kind of battle- a fight against the devastating effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Determined to reclaim his life, Joe even sought the help of a therapist. But nothing seemed to work. Finally, his commander insisted that Joe take a break from active duty to get some healing.
 
So on a whim and with a wealth of newfound freetime, Joe decided to drop off a volunteer application at the Y. Within a matter of days, he received a phone call from Watasha at the Lakewood Family YMCA, inviting him in for an interview. Throughout the interview, Joe noticed that Tasha never stopped smiling at the members she encountered. Even the grumpy looking ones who lowered their eyes upon approach received a welcoming smile to brighten their days. She wasn?t afraid to offer bold love and inclusion. This made a huge impression on Joe. Watasha offered to take Joe under her wing and train him.
 
"I wasn't learning to workout because I already had a solid understanding of fitness," he says. "But I was learning the power of a smile." It's a gift Watasha developed as the result of her own transformation at the Y, and now she's paying it forward.
 
Joe volunteered at the Y as a FitPath coach for 10 months before being redeployed. "I have great leaders in my military career but none as good as Tasha," he says. "I can only strive to be as good and kind as she is. I can't thank her enough for what she did for me."