For over five decades, the YMCA of Greater Saint John has been an influential part of Neil and Christine Jacobsen’s lives in some way or another.
Neil’s involvement in the YMCA began in the early 90’s working with the Saint John YMCA-YWCA Enterprise Centre, training prospective entrepreneurs on launching, managing and operating their own small businesses. It was here he saw the scope of both local and national YMCA programs and the positive impact the Y was having in the community. He wanted to continue to be part of this work and it led him to volunteer his time.
Christine has many wonderful memories as a youth coming to the YMCA on Hazen Avenue where she would often spend her Saturday afternoons in the gym or hanging out with friends in the canteen.
Neil and Christine have both enjoyed being members of the Y over the years. They have watched as it has grown and expanded from the former Hazen Avenue and Prince Edward Square locations to the current locations at the Saint John Regional Y and the Irving Oil Field House.
Even more recently, the Y has played an important role in Neil’s life following the pandemic and surgery in 2022. “Returning to the Y, the gym, the walking track and pool in late 2022 has proven to be an invaluable contribution to my personal wellness journey,” said Neil.
Christine enjoys the variety of fitness classes and has fond memories of coming to the Y with their daughter Bridget. “We find it rewarding to see multiple generations of youth growing up in and around the YMCA as it helps to shape and influence a new generation of community leaders,” said Christine.
Neil also holds a deep appreciation for the role the Y has in supporting the arrival and settlement of new immigrants in the city. “As a son of an immigrant to Canada, I understand the value and impact those services can have to help a newcomer be able to integrate and thrive in a new community,” said Neil.
The Jacobsen’s recognize that through the pandemic, there has been a significant amplification of stress and strain that people in our community are facing, which has reinforced the importance of mental and physical well-being, and the simple—yet increasingly vital—need to find a welcoming place to belong.
“The YMCA provides a critically important foundation for both physical and mental wellbeing – it provides continuity and stability,” added Neil. Simply put, it has enriched our lives and it enriches the lives of its members and volunteers. It enriches our community,”
Neil and Christine also recognize the increasing barriers that many in the community face to accessing the programs and services at the Y. As the 2023 Honourary Co-Chairs, they know that supporting the YMCA through the Annual Strong Communities Campaign is a wonderful way to share the Y experience and build a strong, healthy, diverse and growing community. Their aim is to help ensure that the YMCA remains accessible to all.
“Supporting the Strong Communities Campaign is a way we can collectively make a lasting impact by helping to change individual lives,” said Christine.
To learn more about the Strong Communities Campaign, CLICK HERE.