Why I'm Part of We Build People

Today marks the halfway point of the YMCA of the Triangle's We Build People annual campaign!

This is my second year serving as captain of the Preschool and Family programming team, and I couldn't be more proud to raise money for an organization that I've seen first-hard do good work for the people in our community.

Why the Y for the Hoverstads?

One of my very first camp memories is being a day-camper at what was then the Central YMCA on Hillsborough St. Being active and engaged with other kids my age was a great way to get me out of the house during summer break and doing something other than watching TV.

In high school, shortly after the Finley YMCA outdoor pool open, I worked my senior summer as the pool desk attendant. Being someone who craves both people interaction and making sure the rules are followed, this was basically a summer dream job for my college-bound self.

And in college, the summer after my sophomore year, I worked at the new Kerr YMCA, learning from the legendary Brad Barnes. I served as the summer sports camp director, making sure all the pieces were in place for our team of leaders and counselors to have a lifetime impact on the kids that would be in their care.

During law school, as an Elon student, we had student memberships to the Bryan YMCA in Greensboro. It was a nice escape from studying, and I even splurged on personal training to hold me accountable to doing the work. I didn't take my physical health as seriously as I do now, but I made an attempt.

We took a few years away from the Y - Carl and I being members of studios and gyms in the area.

But when we had kids, we realized that we had the choice to leave the kids at home while we went to classes and workout, or we could pursue health together as a family. Clearly, we chose the latter.

When our family goes to the Y, there's something that each of us can look forward to. The kids LOVE the playhouse space, meeting new friends, and building relationships with counselors. They've come to trust the Y as a safe space, whether we are there with them or not. The countdown is already on in our house for summer camp! Carl and I make good use of the gym and class offerings, and we find that the family programming opportunities have made it so easy for us to get plugged into the Y community.

A key reason behind our membership…

I couldn’t use my upper body as I started LIVESTRONG, so my trainers showed me all the things for leg and cardio work!

I couldn’t use my upper body as I started LIVESTRONG, so my trainers showed me all the things for leg and cardio work!

The key difference in the programming my kids experience at the Y vs. other places - they're making friends with kids who don't look like them, who don't come from backgrounds like them. My kids are being loved on by counselors  who don't look like me and Carl. My kids are learning to trust people that are different than they are, and that's something very, very few places can say they do as well as the Y does.

The Y ensures that people of all ages, income levels, races, religions, and backgrounds can be part of the Y community through funds donated to the annual campaign.

Our family has experienced the generosity of the of the annual campaign in two ways recently:

  1. Last year, I was able to participate in the LIVESTRONG at the Y program following my bilateral double mastectomy. This programs allows any person with a cancer diagnosis to receive small group and one-on-one fitness coaching over a three month period. We went through all of the options the Y has to offer from aquatics to free weights to the endless class offerings! My favorite part was being able to sit down with a nutritionist and discuss my personal post-cancer nutrition concerns. This program is open to both members and non-members. The Y invests nearly $500 per participant and doesn't ask anything of the individual. It's an incredible opportunity.

  2. Last month, our family was able to attend "Anchoring the Family" weekend at Camp Seaferrer. This camp, along with Camp Sea Gull is part of the YMCA of the Triangle, and it uses part of its annual campaign funds to allow families affected by cancer to attend a weekend camp for only $25. Yes, $25 total for all of the family members you can fit in your own cabin. To be able to getaway to the coast for a couple of nights, participate in camp activities like creative arts, the zipline, sailing, and a talent show, was priceless for our family. The girls are already talking about what we'll do when we go again next year!

E in her favorite camp spot - the creative arts cabin!

E in her favorite camp spot - the creative arts cabin!


I could go on and on about the Y has done for our family, and I'm excited to continue to play a role in ensuring the Y provides this level of community and opportunity for everyone in our community.

Will you help me?

Here's an idea of where your donations can be used:


I know some of you are like, “it doesn’t matter if I give.”


Such a small number of members donate to the annual campaign, absolutely any donation is highly valued. Seriously - $15 to $1500. It doesn't matter. It helps, and it is very much needed.

You can make your pledge here.

That’s right, you don’t even have to fulfill your gift right now, just go ahead and let the Y know it’s coming.

When you fill out your pledge card, please indicate “A.E. Finley” at the YMCA you’d like to support and place “Jen Hoverstad” in the Campaigner Name box - just makes it easier to track where the donation came from. Don’t worry, it all goes toward the association’s overall goal!

And if you have any questions or concerns, just send me a note. I’m happy to answer them or connect you with the right person to answer them!

Jennifer HoverstadComment