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What Makes the YW an Asheville Organization?

6 Jan

We asked some YW Members – what is your favorite thing about the YW? And what, in your opinion, makes the YW an Asheville organization? Here’s what we found out.

Name: Jessica Shrago
YW member since: July of 2014
Programs: Club W, Yoga teacher, student of belly dance
What is your favorite thing about the YW? The people!
What makes the YW an Asheville organization? All inclusive and laid-back


Name: Peggy Weaver
YW member since: 4+ years
Programs: Club W, Aquatics classes, tai chi, stretch
What is your favorite thing about the YW? It looks like REAL people belong here – diversity (demographic, ethnic, abilities…)
What makes the YW an Asheville organization? Proud tradition of mission-driven, community building awesomeness!


Name: Elaine Barnes
YW member since: 2 years
Programs: Club W
What is your favorite thing about the YW? Great classes
What makes the YW an Asheville organization? Its diversity

Name: Becky Stone
YW member since: 33 years
Programs: Club W, Board member
What is your favorite thing about the YW? The diversity
What makes the YW an Asheville organization? Broad representation of the Asheville population; service; women!

_SCS6004Name: Janet Stanhope
Programs: Club W, Diabetes Wellness & Prevention
What is your favorite thing about the YW? The classes
What makes the YW an Asheville organization? We are family! Friendliness & caring.

Name: Alex Mitchell
YW member since: 3 glorious years
Programs: Staff, Club W
What is your favorite thing about the YW? Classes and the food I can smell cooking in the kitchen
What makes the YW an Asheville organization? All inclusive! (Fringe Gym)

Name: Kay Kuczynski
YW member since: 5 months
Programs: Pool
What is your favorite thing about the YW? Friendliness, inclusivness


Name: Russell Sutton
YW member since:  February 2015
Programs: Club W
What is your favorite thing about the YW? Diverse group of people looking for different types of fitness
What makes the YW an Asheville organization? Focused on the local community and tied to people living around it.

New Club W members: Sign up today and your joiners fee ($49) will be waived! Plus, receive a free fitness consultation and “We Are Asheville” t-shirt.

Check Out Our Club W Facility!

10 Dec

Curious about what our Club W Health & Fitness Center looks like? We’ve put together a simple slideshow that will give you a sense of our building.


Of course, nothing beats coming in for a tour! Visit us at 185 South French Broad Avenue today.

Learn more about Club W at or call 828-254-7206 for more information.

Club W, Volunteer & Donor Spotlight: Peggy Weaver

7 Dec


Peggy Weaver

Peggy Weaver in the YWCA’s Laurey Masterton Memorial Garden

Peggy Weaver grew up in Chapel Hill, NC, where her father was a university administrator. While Peggy describes her upbringing as privileged, she stresses that “we were taught around the dinner table and in church what was going on in the civil rights movement.” She also notes the important role of the black women who worked in her family’s household while she was a child. “I came to know these women well, and knew that the hopes and dreams they had for their families were the same as ours, but for some reason our society didn’t provide for them the way it did for us.”

In 1991, Peggy’s family moved to Asheville. Peggy’s daughters attended the after school program at the YWCA during this time.

In January, 2011 Peggy retired from her job as librarian at Asheville High. She says: “Joining the YWCA’s Club W was a no brainer. Of course the fitness programs are good for me, but the bonus at the YWCA is that I get to work out next to someone who doesn’t look like me. I love Club W because I can look across the gym or the parking lot and seeing people different from me – all sizes, shapes, colors, ages. I believe to be fully human you have to make it a point to encounter people not just like you. It broadens your whole view of your life.”

Peggy started attending to Tai Chi class every week, and joined the regular after-class gathering at Laurey’s café. They were at Laurey’s the morning that Laurey Masterton passed away after a her long battle with cancer. There was an outpouring of remembrances for Laurey in the community, and Peggy remembers reading a quote from Laurey’s sister Heather, who said that Laurey’s legacy was that she would want you to do something hard for you. Peggy says, “that’s when I thought: ‘I need to volunteer at the YWCA. I felt called to say ‘I’ll help,’ even though it’s not easy for me as an introvert and a home-body.” Peggy works closely every week with members of the YWCA’s Advancement Team – editing grant proposals, filing media clippings, stuffing envelopes – whatever needs to be done. “I’m here to serve this incredible YWCA in my little way, but it.   It gives me great pleasure to be affiliated with a force for what’s good and right in this crazy world we live in.”

In November, 2014 – after coming on an Empower Hour tour – Peggy attended the YWCA’s first Persimmon Luncheon, and made a generous pledge of financial support.

She says: “I choose to support the YWCA financially because its mission of eliminating racism and empowering women resonates with chords that are so deep in me that go back to my childhood. And I see results. I feel that my contributions to the YWCA, small though they are, make a big difference in the sustainability of the programs here. I love knowing that the programs I support help improve the lives of people who live in my own community.”

To learn more about volunteering at the YWCA, contact Gerry Leonard at or call 828-254-7206 x. 219.

Diabetes Awareness and the YWCA

23 Nov

November is National Diabetes Month, but every month of the year the YWCA of Asheville works to raise awareness about diabetes and its impact on our community.

The Diabetes Wellness & Prevention program at the YWCA gives participants the power to take control of their health. In this program participants who desire to make lasting change build community, and leave feeling stronger, healthier, more knowledgeable, and – above all – supported.

Watch the following video to hear the story of one participant in our Diabetes Wellness & Prevention program, Jennifer Wilmer:


To learn more about joining our Diabetes Wellness & Prevention Program, contact Leah Berger-Singer at or at 828-254-7206 x. 212. 

The YWCA of Asheville’s Preventive Health programming is supported by an educational grant from Novo Nordisk Inc., the NC Dept. Health & Human Services – Office of Minority Health, Mission Health Community Benefits Program, YWCA donors, and the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.

Spotlight on: Wendy Bell, Club W Member

11 Nov

Joshua McClure, Club W Coordinator, recently spoke with Wendy Bell about her background, what motivates her, and what she likes about the YWCA and Club W.Wendy Bell

Josh: Are you from Asheville?
Wendy: My husband and I moved here in 1964 from Louisville, Kentucky, due to his job. My husband worked for USFS (United States Forest Services).

Josh: What great things do you have going in your life?
Wendy: My husband and I have been married for 52 years. I would also like to say I am 75 and in great health; I think that is pretty great. I enjoy my volunteer work that I do, with a pre-school outreach program, Song of Sky- chorus program,  and Meals On Wheels.

Josh: Can you tell me one thing that is a success for you in your life?
Wendy: I was a high school and ESL teacher with Buncombe County Schools. I loved the years that I worked doing this, and feel like this was a success for me.  I also would like to think that I am a committed workout woman!

Josh: What motivated you to start working out?
Wendy: When I retired in 2001 my weight started creeping up and I didn’t have a regular workout routine. I just took mostly cardio classes and did daily walks. This is typical for women with osteoporosis; you need to add weights to your workout.  When Curves came to North Asheville I didn’t have an excuse not to workout. I stuck with Curves for 10 years, until they closed down. The YW is more intensive; there is more variety here at the YW and more equipment and classes that you can choose from.

Josh: What do you like best about YWCA?
Wendy: I like the strength-training workouts designed here at the YWCA.  I really feel like I am getting stronger. As always, the staff are super helpful. The YWCA is also a convenient and well equipped facility.

Back in 2012 I had a slight stroke and my left side was slightly compromised, and I could feel it was weak.  I have noticed more in the YW workout that I am doing that my left side is developing. The weights/workouts that David [Fitness Associate] started me on are making my left side more equal to my right side. This definitely has to do with the YW and working out. My left side is stronger and my balance is better. I was going out my front door and I caught my foot on the edge of the mat and I could feel I was in danger. I tightened up my core and saved myself from the fall. I have gained strength, and I would have not been able to do this without the YW.

Josh: What is one thing that people don’t know about you that you would like to share?
Wendy: I am very shy!

Josh: What advice would you give to people who have questions about the YWCA?
Wendy: Go and try the YW for yourself and you will be sold!

Learn more about Club W Health & Fitness Center at Through-out the month of November, join us for free Workout Wednesdays – you can come in and use the gym, pool, or take a class for free. 

Spotlight On: Maria Weider, YWCA Director of Health & Wellness

4 Nov

Maria Weider is relatively new to her role as Director of Health & Wellness at the YWCA, but she brings over 25 years of experience managing fitness clubs and a real passion for health to the YW family. Maria Weider

Here’s more about Maria:

How long have you lived in Asheville? Since 1986—I’m originally from Lexington, KY. I came through Asheville traveling from Myrtle Beach and just never left. 

Favorite thing(s) about the YWCA? Definitely the people here at the YWCA. I love my coworkers, love the talent and passion they all have for the mission, and love that our work here reaches out into the community. I’ve worked over 25 years in the fitness industry and now I feel like I can finally make an impact on more than the 2% or so that go to gyms. The fact that Club W at the YWCA reaches out into the community is awesome!

What do you like to do in your spare time? Well, I love to do things with my family. I have a 21-year-old, a 16-year-old, a 13-year-old and a 10-year-old—Matt, Aixa, Tucker and Gabby—and we all love to hike, cook and play music together. We’re a very musical family—everyone plays an instrument or sings, so we stay entertained with that. I also enjoy spending time with my lovely husband, Scott.

People would be surprised if they knew I… was once a competitive body builder. Also, that Spanish was my first language and native tongue. I moved to the United States when I was 6 years-old from Montevideo, Uruguay.

Please come by the YWCA at 185 S. French Broad Ave. to meet Maria and tour Club W! 

David Gist’s Story: Sharing My Knowledge on Health & Wellness

6 Aug

A conversation with Joshua McClure, Club W Coordinator, and David Gist, Club W member and new Fitness Associate. 


Joshua: How long have you been involved with the YWCA? 

I have been coming to the YWCA since 2006. I started out in the Diabetes Wellness & Prevention Program, working with different staff including Katie Souris. I really enjoyed working with Katie, as she was always willing to help me and hear me out, but also when something was wrong or needed to be said, Katie would say it.

Joshua: How long have you lived Asheville?

I am from Asheville, and have been living here for over 65 years. (All my life, so that should tell you my age).

Joshua: What are some positive things happening in your life?

My marriage would have to be the biggest positive I have in my life right now. My health has improved, and I have wonderful step children as well. I’m very thankful to a lot of the YWCA staff, Joshua McClure, Susan Kettren, Mary-Beth Herman and Katie Souris, for helping me and allowing me to keep my focus on health.

Joshua: What is your favorite thing(s) about the YWCA?

One of the things I enjoy about the YWCA is that I’m able to share my knowledge on health and wellness with other Club W members. It’s also a great place to work out and stay healthy.

Joshua: What has benefited you the most being a part of the YWCA?

One thing that has been a benefit is my overall understanding about diabetes, through the help of the Diabetes Wellness & Prevention Program. I have been able to keep my blood sugar at a normal place, and the program has helped me become more familiar with what diabetes is, eating the right food, working out, and keeping up with my medication.

Joshua: What is one thing that people don’t know about you?

I’m a big football and basketball fan! I’ve been a fan of the Dallas Cowboys since the 1960’s. I follow the San Antonio Spurs in basketball.

Joshua: What advice would you give people that are interested in the YWCA?

I would tell folks to come in and ask for more information about the YWCA. There are all types of information you can get in terms of health, classes, and having somewhere to workout.

Learn more about the YWCA’s Club W Health & Fitness Center at