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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 828-254-7206 x. 219.
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 www.ywcaofasheville.org/clubw.
YW member Shawn Parker grew up in New York City and Florida, and spent 8 years in the military. After completing the police academy in 2009 he married his wife Jennifer, a certified doula, and they eventually moved to Asheville – where the couple now live with their daughters Amilya and Leah.
Shawn, who has a BA in criminal science and is working towards an MA, works for the Asheville Police Department as a field instructor and member of the crisis intervention team. Because of his background, he is often called into crisis situations to engage and support people suffering from PTSD, helping connect them with resources.
While Shawn has access to a 24-hour gym for police officers, the facility doesn’t have child care. Shawn notes that he “loves the empowerment part” of the YW’s mission, but was at first unsure about whether the gym excluded men. “When I first saw the YW I said, this is for women. But I’m the type of person who investigates, so I walked in the door and asked – what are you all about?”
Now a Club W member, on days when Shawn is taking care of his 4 year-old, Leah, he’ll bring her to the YW. Shawn notes that “Club W has great child care with no gap during the day. Best of all, when I pick Leah up she tells me she had fun.” While Leah is enjoying activities in Drop-In Shawn, will spend time on the treadmill, and then he’ll often pick Leah up to take her swimming in the solar-heated pool.
Shawn says: “It feels safe here. Coming from law enforcement and the military, I’m frequently on my guard — but people are relaxed and there’s no tension here. The staff is friendly, and it’s a comfortable and family environment to work out.”
By Gerry Leonard, Volunteer Coordinator
Every month we will feature a new volunteer in our ‘Volunteer Spotlight.’ For the month of December, the spotlight shines brightly on Ariana Weaver.
You’ve probably seen Ariana around town. She grew up in Weaverville, NC and has spent her entire life here in the Asheville area. More recently, you’ve probably spotted her here at the YWCA – volunteering in our After School program, helping set up at the Persimmon Luncheon, and handing out Voter Pledge Cards at our Health Fair. In fact, Ariana’s link to the YWCA dates all the way back to when she was a student at Asheville Middle School – she volunteered with our After School program back then as well!
Ariana is currently a junior at UNC – Asheville, a Health & Wellness Promotion major. When she needed to fulfill a service learning project with a community partner for school, choosing the YWCA was a no-brainer. Ariana says, “I chose the YW because I love the diversity of their programs and the many opportunities that they have. I was already familiar with their School Age program, and I really wanted to be involved because I love children.”
A moment that stands out for Ariana occurred during the After School program focus on the human body. She helped the students design visual aids to represent the human body and a 3-D model to represent the brain. This was particularly rewarding for Ariana, because “I really enjoyed working with the students as they got to be really involved into designing the project.”
UNC – Asheville recently held their end-of-the-semester event to celebrate completed internships and service learning projects, and Ariana stood proudly next to her YWCA display, filled with pictures and moments from her time in After School. Ariana says: “It was an awesome experience for me. I loved working with the staff who were all really caring and helpful. All the children were great, and were willing to accept me into their classroom. I also felt that the YW as a whole was really organized.”
When Ariana isn’t volunteering at the YWCA or busy with school work, she enjoys being outdoors, reading, writing poetry, singing and dancing. She also really enjoys working out in at Club W – you probably will see her at an upcoming Body Combat class. And even though Ariana no longer has to fulfill volunteer hours for school, she still plans on continuing to volunteer with the After School program.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the YWCA of Asheville, please visit www.ywcaofasheville.org/volunteer.
Jennifer and Cece Thomas are a mother-daughter duo who has been coming to the YW together for as long as Cece, now in her early twenties, can remember. In fact – her first memory of the YW is hiding under a table during her third birthday party.
Cece, a UNCA graduate, has applied to programs to become a physical therapist and is now working towards her personal trainer certification. Jennifer is benefiting by having her very own live-in personal trainer: “She holds me accountable,” Jennifer laughs.
Jennifer and Cece can be found several days a week working out together in the Club W weight room, but they also enjoy Tabata and pump class, and occasionally swimming in the pool.
“I love that the YW is all-inclusive, and it’s community-based,” says Jennifer. “It’s everybody – young and old, all colors and persuasions. I feel comfortable. I love working out here and seeing the kids walk down the hallway – it’s like kid TV!”
Jennifer owns Montford Walk-In Bakery, and Cece candidly notes that they both rely on regular exercise to counteract all of the delicious baked goods that come through their home.
More than this, though, both mom and daughter value having each other as a workout buddy. “It’s our time to be together,” says Cece. Jennifer adds: “It’s something nice to do together that makes us feel good. It’s our mother-daughter time that’s productive in many ways.”
In celebration of Mother’s Day on May 11, Club W Health & Fitness Center will waive the registration fee for new members from April 30, 2014 through May 15, 2015!
Steve Wright is co-partner of Pack’s Tavern in downtown Asheville, and works out at Club W on a regular basis. Steve says a catalyst for becoming a member was when “I saw myself on TV one day and I said – ‘Holy cow, I need to lose weight!’”
Steve comes to Club W every day to lift weights, run, and use the elliptical machines. Between his new exercise regimen and changes he’s made to his diet, he’s lost 50 pounds! “I feel so much better,” Steve says.
Steve has tried out other local gyms and he insists that Club W stands out from the rest. “It starts at the front desk. Everyone always knows my name and is friendly. Other gyms have things this one doesn’t have, but the people and environment at the YWCA more than make up for it.”
Steve is proud that his membership helps support the YWCA’s mission. “I think what the YWCA stands for is a big deal in the community. I wish more people knew about it – although then I might have to sign up for the equipment!”
Meanwhile, Steve’s personal health transformation is having a broader reach; he has made changes to the menu at Pack’s Tavern so that there are healthier options for diners.
Steve’s story will be highlighted in the YWCA’s FY12-13 annual report – which will be released in March.
Save the date for April 10, when Pack’s Tavern will donate 20% of the restaurant’s food sales from lunch & dinner to the YWCA!