At the Y, we strengthen community through youth development because we believe that a community is stronger when all children have the opportunity to discover who they are and what they can achieve. The best way to do this is by providing them a safe and fun environment in which to explore and discover.

Not long ago, Nate and Nina, siblings, were in desperate need of a safe and fun environment. Their single mother, a struggling drug addict, had led them to a life on the streets of Las Vegas, begging for money and food. At times, eating out of a dumpster was the only means to survival for Nate and Nina. Nate, only 4 years older than Nina, was a born protector. He kept a shielding arm around her at all times and made sure she always ate first.

When made aware of the children’s dire circumstances, grandparents Sandy and Lee quickly intervened. They navigated many legal and emotional hurdles and eventually were able to bring Nate and Nina to Idaho as their foster grandchildren. But that was just the beginning. Sandy knew the transition would be a tough challenge for the whole family, one they couldn’t face alone.

Through a church friendship, the grandparents were aware of the Y and all it could offer for the kids. Upon visiting the Caldwell Family YMCA and asking about fees, they were thrilled and relieved to learn that the Y’s Financial Assistance program supports foster children, providing them memberships and programs at little to no cost. Sandy left the Y that day crying tears of joy.

Today, Nate and Nina are flourishing. They visit the Y often and attended many summer camps in 2016, including a life-changing week a Y Camp at Horsethief Reservoir. Their lives are about friends, fun, learning, and security . . . a very different reality than what they were facing a year ago! And while the kids are safe and cared for at the Y, Sandy and Lee find time to care for and rejuvenate themselves in order to have the energy it takes to care for their lively, active grandchildren.

Nate and Nina are so grateful for their Y experiences, especially Y Camp, as they’ve expressed many times in thoughtful notes to Y staff. But we at the Y are the ones who are grateful. We strive daily to be able to provide children like Nate and Nina the opportunities they deserve, and we know that this would not be possible without the generous support from donors.