Leaving Something to the Y
GLORIA D'AMATO will soon celebrate 50 years of being a YMCA member.
"I've been a member of the Vanderbilt YMCA for 47 years and I've been coming here almost every single day," Gloria says. "When I first joined in my 30s, I paid $15 a year for my membership.
At the time there was only one pool at Vanderbilt, a small pool, and only about 10 female members, Gloria says. "Before you knew it, they built the second pool and a tremendous women's locker room," she remembers.
Gloria says she used to swim after work at night, and she has done yoga and Zumba and various forms of exercise in the water. "I just love all of it. And the branch gets more beautiful every year because they keep expanding it," she says.
Even though there is a Y near her home in Queens, she remains faithful to the Vanderbilt branch.
"I'm retired now, but I joined the Y while I was working in Manhattan near the Vanderbilt Y, she says. "So even now, I still make the journey to 47th Street on the East Side. It's the only place for me.
"One day a neighbor happened to mention to me that he was putting the Y in his will. And I said, 'Why?' And he responded, 'Well, because I love going there, I love swimming there, it's nice to leave money to your family but I feel that I also want to leave something to the Y.' And that opened the door for me. I now belong to the Heritage Society—people who have put the Y in their estates."
Ensuring a Healthier NYC
Gloria is impressed with the Y's commitment to building a healthier city.
"When I was a child, the Y didn't have all the programs they have now such as preventing diabetes or learning about how to dress for a job interview," she says. "Many kids do not have that kind of guidance within their families-and the Y is a great place for them to seek help.
"I love the Y because they have everything—family outings, senior trips, and youth programs. One of the things about the Y that I like most is that it brings kids together in a way that is not dependent on possessions or on class. At the Y, kids are all treated the same. Kids at the Y learn to become better behaved."
Grateful for Her Health
Gloria credits the Y with her good health today.
"If it wasn't for the Y, I probably wouldn't be alive," she says. "I have noticed that when I haven't been exercising and going swimming, I ache all over. Everything I have done at the Y keeps me going. And I have made so many friends at the Y.
"Almost every day I take a bus, then the subway three stops to 53rd and 3rd, and then I walk to 47th Street. People tell me I don't even look 85."
It's Easier Than You Think
Gloria says joining the Heritage Society was simple when she opened an annuity a few years ago.
"The longer I live, the more the Y will someday receive," she says. "I have a friend who just joined the Heritage Society, and she did it somewhat differently. It depends on how you want to help the Y, and how it can benefit your personal tax situation in different ways."
Gloria often tries to encourage others to also consider extending their impact with a planned gift to the YMCA.
"In terms of support, anybody who has a personal relationship with the Y, or at least understands its value in the community, should step up and help financially if they can," she says. "I always tell them what a wonderful feeling it is.
"I've been trying to get people to join the Heritage Society. Many people say, 'I have grandchildren' or 'I have children.' But I say, 'So what?' I feel that the Y has done so much for me that I want to give back so that I could help people who cannot afford to go. Many children go to the Y in the summer instead of being on the streets—and I think that's great."
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