By Jim Everett, Treasure Valley Family YMCA CEO

The last time Braxton returned home from Boise to Arizona, it did not go well.  He reconnected with some of his former “gangster” friends and began smoking pot.  Fortunately, he remembered the person he had become as an employee at the Treasure Valley Family YMCA (Y) and made the decision to return to Idaho.  He was rehired at the Y in a lead staff role, working with kids who were experiencing the same struggles he had gone through. He became a great mentor, strengthened his relationship with his own mentor, the West Y’s Executive Director, Shane, and really blossomed.

But family and Arizona called.  Braxton’s grandparents were getting older and needed support, and his mom’s long work hours left his little brother with a lot of free time. “Free time” had not been good for Braxton, and he was watching his brother start down the same path.  He decided he needed to be there for his family, especially his brother, and left for Arizona.  Upon his departure, as we said goodbye with feelings of sadness and pride, Braxton promised us he would return to school and get his degree.

The other morning the phone at our Y Metro Offices rang.  Leslee, our Executive Assistant, had just stepped away so I answered, and to my delight it was Braxton calling from Arizona. I think he was surprised I answered, as his voice was tentative.  At first I was worried that maybe things were not going well.  Precisely the opposite!

Braxton is doing extraordinarily well and was calling to let me know and say thanks.  He stays in touch with Shane, who is like the dad he never really had. And he’s on a path of great achievements.  Here’s a brief run-down:

  • Honor Role in his college courses.  He is shooting for a 4.0 this semester, and I told him that was something I never achieved at any level!
  • Working in afterschool care.  The kids come from tough situations and are so lucky to have Braxton.  It is not a Y, but kids are kids, and these are kids who need a role model like him.
  • Supporting his mom and granparents.  Braxton helps his mom a lot, who is doing as well and stable as ever.  His grandparents are happy to have him around, too.
  • Guiding his younger brother.  When Braxton was growing up, his mom worked a lot, and he started hanging with the wrong crowd.  Not his words, but Braxton is clearly playing the role of a father figure in his brother’s life, and it sounds like it is working well.  His brother is the QB for his Pop Warner team, who won the Arizona state championship and went on to beat two California teams to win the regional championship.

Our conversation was not “facetime,” but I could see and feel Braxton beaming as he talked about his brother, similar to the way I talk about my grandkids now. He says he owes so much to the Y and to Shane for believing in him, instilling the Y values, and showing him that he truly is “of promise.”  He vows to get his degree and hopes that the Y will find a role for him in the future.

What a way to start the morning that was . . . so awesome and why this job is still so rewarding!