No Better Place than the Y for Danielle Cressman and her Family

Danielle shares how shares how the YMCA is the perfect fit for her family and how she joined the YMCA staff

The house was getting fuller and fuller, its latest addition a second daughter for Ricky and Danielle Cressman. Their older daughter, Camille, was already two years old, and another baby certainly kept things hectic at home.

Despite that, Danielle found herself getting a little stir-crazy. Too stir-crazy, actually.

“I had my second daughter, Lacey, who at that time was only a few months old. I looked at my husband one day and said, ‘if we don’t get me out of this house, it’s not going to end well,’” Danielle said.

The Cressmans had considered joining the Y before but didn’t know if they could afford a four-person membership. They took another look, though, and found out that the Y offered an income-based membership. Because of that, the Cressmans were able to register as a family.  

It’s been eight years since, and now, Danielle is all smiles - if not happy and sweaty - after recently teaching a Zumba Tone class at the Brandywine Y in Coatesville. Danielle, who’s always been a dancer, initially took Zumba classes before getting her teaching certification. When a position opened up as a Zumba teacher, she jumped all over it, and the rest is history.

“I have been working here for almost three years. Before that, I was a member,” Danielle said. “But I wanted to be part of this team. I love the people here, and if I could do anything to give back to this community, I wanted to do it.”

Bringing the Kids to the YMCA

She’s given back plenty, but the Y has also proven to be the best place for her to spend time with her kids. All three of them - her son, Holden, is the youngest - are members, and one of the biggest reasons is the diversity of programs that ensures there’s something for everyone to do. Child Watch goes a long way, too, in ensuring that every one of Danielle’s kids is taken care of if she needs to do her own thing for a little bit. Child Watch provides on-site supervision for up to two hours while parents work out.

“They all come here, too. It’s wonderful, they love it, and my son has literally been coming here since he was six weeks old. That’s the youngest they take them, so the day he was six weeks old, he was in. The women who work in Child Watch are so fabulous and he has learned so much from them,” Danielle said. “He is such a leader, he is so social because he’s been around kids his whole life. It’s a free chance to do that. He gets to be around other kids all the time and it has absolutely helped him. When he went to pre-school, the teacher couldn’t believe that it was his first year of pre-school. She was, like, ‘really?’, but he has been going to the Y forever.”

Camille is autistic, which makes social situations difficult at times. While she sometimes struggles, Danielle has little doubt that being a member at the Y significantly helped her oldest.

“Bringing her here starting at 2 1/2 helped her a lot, because it brought her out of her shell,” Danielle said. “If she had to go to school ‘cold’, just from being at home with mom all the time, I think she would have really had a much harder time. She still struggles socially to this day, but I definitely think having that time period where she was around other children made a big difference in her life.”

Programs on Programs on Programs

Lacey is a social butterfly who’s so enamored with Zumba Kids that she’s been known to start the water works if she has to miss a class, which her mom teaches. Holden has also recently joined the dance party, but that’s not all that the kids can do.

Far from it.

“There are programs, they can learn a sport, they can learn basketball, they can learn ballet, they can learn gymnastics,” Danielle said. “There are so many different things. I sent Lacey to pre-school here. She loved it. She got swimming lessons. She loved swimming every week.”

“I can’t imagine having to go to work and leave my kids,” Danielle added. “This is the first year that my babies are all in school and I’m a hot mess. I’m crying all the time, ‘I miss my kids!’ then it’s, ‘Never mind. I don’t really miss them that much. It’s OK.’ When they’re in Child Watch at the Y, you feel so secure, comfortable and safe knowing that they’re just in the next room, and if they need you, someone will come to get you. When you come to the Y together, it’s wonderful to know that you’re building relationships and you’re building memories with your kids.”

Where better to do that than the Y?