Rebecca O’Connell became a member of the Greene County YMCA when she moved to the area in 2015. Her and her husband moved to town from New Paltz with the goal of buying an old Victorian home to fix up, and to live closer to their four grandkids in Glenmont.
“Part of the reason we moved here is because we knew about the Y,” said Rebecca. “My son works at Athens Gen, and he became a member right away.”
Rebecca is an avid runner and cyclist, so when she retired last June, she got a little bored.
“I knew the Y was big on volunteers. I kept getting hits about it on LinkedIn,” explained Rebecca. “I was here one day and talked to Colan behind the desk and he passed my name along to Denise.”
That’s how Rebecca became one of Greene County’s most prized volunteers. She immediately got involved with the Membership Committee and Togetherhood Committee, where she was able to work on her first big project with the Y.
“In February, we did our first distribution drive. We collected items for the domestic violence shelters in Greene and Columbia County,” said Rebecca. “We set up a table at the Y, we gave information, and I made a shopping list of things that were needed. We collected about 175 pounds of personal hygiene stuff.”
After working on her first big Y event, Rebecca is excited to get more involved in the future. Until then, she is focusing on training for the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon.
“I did a six mile run this morning and I hope to be at eight by the end of the month,” said Rebecca, with an air of determination.
But Rebecca wasn’t always a runner. She was a smoker for most of her young life.
“My husband just painted our first house and he said, Bec, no more smoking in the house I think it’s time you quit,” said Rebecca. “He put me in a two mile race and I thought I was going to die. I worked my way up to 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons. This will be my fourth marathon this fall.”
It’s been almost 20 years since Rebecca’s last cigarette. Her strength and determination is admirable. Smoking can be a very difficult habit to break, but she did and it’s put her on the path to health and wellness.
“Smoking was very acceptable when I was growing up,” explained Rebecca. “We had a smoking area at school. You hung out with teachers and smoked. You hung out with friends and you smoked. My parents smoked.”
Since quitting, Rebecca has completely transformed her wellness routine. She’s participating in the Delmar Duathlon this Sunday and will be participating in the Greene County 5K this summer.
“I had suggested a cycling group to Jacqueline Whitbeck back in the winter, and we decided to move forward with it,” said Rebecca. “The decision was made to form two groups – an advanced group and a beginner/intermediate group. I volunteered to head up the beginner/intermediate group under Y employee Stephanie Schumacher’s guidance.”
The cycling group kicked off on April 26th and will convene every Wednesday, leaving the Y at 6:00pm. It’s open to anyone who wants to join!
“We had a total of eight riders leave the Y and pedal through Coxsackie and back for a total of 12 miles,” Rebecca exclaimed. “My husband and I have been behind numerous group rides over the years in Dutchess and Ulster Counties and it was such a great feeling to get this going with some new friends from our Greene County Y.”
Rebecca plans to continue making the Y a better place, helping people in the community come together.
“Because of the Y, I have been able to make a lot of friends in my new community stay in shape, stay engaged, and really enjoy life.”