The YMCA of Greater Miami not only nurtures families – it may even help create them.berryjam.ru
Natasha Franco and James Nall joined forces at the Y five years ago, and in 2014 tied the knot.
“It kind of all started with my husband,” Franco says. “He’d been working at the Y for six years and had been part of it his whole life. I started volunteering so I could spend more time with him instead of being home alone.”
A fitness guru and physical therapy student at Miami Dade College, Franco was a great candidate for the Y. So when a position opened after three years of volunteering and someone asked her husband, “Does your girlfriend want a job?” she jumped right in.
Nall, on the other hand, began his relationship with the Y as a toddler when his family joined, and then he started volunteering at age 14. A few years later, the Y offered him a job as a sports assistant during the fall and spring and camp director during the summer.
“When I was volunteering, I saw a lot of kids come from troubled homes,” Nall says. “You’re with them nine to 10 hours a day, so you really have a chance to impact their lives.”
If there’s one thing this couple shares wholeheartedly at the Y, it’s an appreciation of the people. As a former wellness coach and personal trainer who’s become a lifeguard and fitness coach, Franco obviously helps people physically. But that’s not her favorite part.
“The atmosphere here is like, ‘Hey, how are you!’ We all know each other and care,” Franco said. “We interact with kids by playing games with them, taking them outside and making workouts fun. The point is that, yes, we’re a gym, but we’re more about getting to know people, touching their lives, and helping in whatever way we can.”
Nall says the Y’s influence can be beyond measure.
“When I first began working here, we had a camper who had come from a troubled home,” Nall said. “He was very disrespectful and abusive to other children and counselors. My boss and I gave him a lot of attention during his time with us. He became more respectful and caring. Although he had to leave us, just knowing that we helped him in at least one way was enough for me.”
Working in a rewarding environment with the love of your life almost seems like a fairytale, Nall and Franco say.
“I think it’s awesome,” Nall says. “My wife started the same way I did, as a volunteer. It’s nice to see the smile on her face when she influences a kid’s life, and vice versa, when she sees me coaching.
“It’s good to know we’re both making a difference!”
For more information on the Y and how to get involved in helping your community, please visit www.ymcasouthflorida.org