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Merle Howes

Merle Howes

What Does MyY Mean To Me?

It means a great deal. The Y is a worldwide charitable service organization dedicated to the service of others – to all persons, no matter whom they are or where they live. To have a good life is important. How is it accomplished? The Y does this by helping to build up people’s bodies, their minds and their spirits through their numerous programs and other activities. Y workers are dedicated people.

When I was born, my Father was the General Secretary of the Broadview YMCA in the east end of Toronto (now he would be called GM or CEO). My Mother had been Head Stenographer at the Central YMCA, where my parents met and married shortly after. The Y started to become a meaningful part of my life when I turned seven years old. My Father was transferred to Charlottetown, P.E.I as General Secretary there. I started Grade 2 at school and was then promptly enrolled in the Young Girls class at the Y. It was fun. We did somersaults on the mats, swinging on the rings and I learned to swing my legs over the ‘horse’. My Mother signed up for badminton and became a good player. The three of us loved the Island people.

Sadly, on Sept 3rd, 1939 World War 2 began. My father was enlisted into the Y War Services and was transferred to a new army base training camp in Nova Scotia to help organize sports and other activities for newly enlisted soldiers when off duty. Moves can come frequently during wartime so my Mother and I returned to Toronto and saw my Father only ‘on leave’. I started Grade 9 in high school. Making friends was very hard at first but when the next summer came I was enrolled at the Y Girls Camp Topawingo, up near Parry Sound. I made new friends and we were swimming, canoeing, camping outdoors (there were cabins too), and did we ever have our wacky times to!  I didn’t want to come home, but life goes on.

You could say that the Y has played a large part in my upbringing. It is certainly true and I have been a very fortunate person because of it. It has been a positive influence on my whole life and continues to be so. I plan to be a member and strong supporter – all the days of my life. Amen.

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