Judith Duma became a member of the Glenville YMCA in 2010 when she moved to the area with her family. She was looking to get healthy, but had a lot of other responsibilities. She was the primary caregiver for her ailing father and a single mother to a daughter she adopted on her own. Getting healthy was on her mind, but she just had to make that first leap.
“I drove by the Y every single day,” said Judith. “So I very sheepishly walked in one day and said, ‘I want to join.’”
Things skyrocketed from there. She jumped right in and started working with a personal trainer, of whom she stayed with for three or four years. That’s what kick-started her volunteer experiences at the Y.
“The trainer I was working with, Laura Denovio, is very outgoing and involved. We had gotten to be very friendly,” Judith explained. “I was training with her, and she said they were looking for someone in healthcare to sit on the board. She asked what I thought about that.”
That was four years ago and Judith has been on the board ever since! She is thrilled to have gotten to work on a couple of health related projects within the Y, and help out at a number of different events.
“Judith believes in what we do at the Y and she is there for anything we ask her to do,” said Donna Gigone, the Executive Director. “Judith is truly a gem for the Glenville Y with her talents, time and treasures.”
Last year, she was asked to chair Togetherhood, a new program that invites Y members to activate their social responsibility by participating in the Y’s cause to strengthen community—it’s a great way to give back and support your neighbors.
“Our biggest event was a scavenger hunt on the grounds,” Judith smiled. “It was meant to showcase the Y and all the things we offer while raising awareness in human trafficking.”
The event was a huge success. The community came together, were able to tour the grounds, and learn about human trafficking in the area.
“A lot of people were saying, ‘This is not happening here,’ but the fact of the matter is that it is. Schenectady is the halfway point between the city and Canada. That’s makes Schenectady a hotbed and Glenville is part of Schenectady,” Judith explained. “So we raised awareness. A lot of people had no idea. So far, that’s been one of the activities I’m the most proud of.”
Judith is not only a prized volunteer, she also immerses herself in everything the Y has to offer.
“There’s nothing cookie cutter here,” Judith said with a smile on her face. “When I worked with my trainer, Laura, she tailored a program to fit the needs of my orthopedic issues. It didn’t hurt me. It helped me. I had to have total knee surgery. So we worked on strengthening my legs and thighs and my recovery was amazing. I was up and walking without a cane in 10 days. It was all a direct result of what they do here.”
In addition to personal training, Judith also partook in adult swim lessons to conquer her fear of deep water and her daughter was able to intern at the Y.
“I call this the Glenville gem, not the gym,” said Judith. “I’ve had nothing but positive experiences here.”
When times were hard for Judith, she turned to the Y for support.
“My dad passed away. My daughter went away to school and all of a sudden, it was just me,” Judith said. “I don’t know how it happened to quickly, but it did and I had to find things to get back into. That’s when I joined another church. I got involved here at the Y. Got back into Controlled Chaos and started a breakfast club. I filled my time because being a single parent and alone is deadly, for me.”
With everything she had going on, the Y was the place Judith turned to for a friend.
“There were times after my daughter went away to school that I would come to my training sessions and I would tell Laura that I was too down to workout. So we would just sit outside and chat,” Judith explained. “She would let me go on and on about how I felt and that was just as therapeutic for me than working out. I really appreciated that.”
It as the simple act of walking through the door that was the hardest part for Judith.
“Once I was here, I knew I would feel better. I would be around positive people,” smiled Judith. “Between the church and the Y, they saved my life.”