YMCA is a second home for Saint John couple

The YMCA has been a part of Brice and Cathy Belyea’s life since childhood. What started as a place where he learned to swim and she attended camp has turned into their second home.

Brice recalls his first experience with the Y attending swim lessons from the age of 6. Having lost his mom at the age of 13, the Y became a safe place for Brice and his friends, and he knows that had there been a Rainbows program at the time, he would have been there.

“The relationships with the Y really grew strong through those years. All through High School, went to the Y just about every day.”

Cathy’s own Y journey started at the YWCA and Camp Glenburn, spending eight summers tenting on the beach for 17 days, and completing her Bronze swim certifications.

It was during their High School years that Brice met Cathy, and they recall attending the dances at the Teen Centre on Friday nights. They married shortly after High School and later moved away before returning to Saint John.

When asked what stands out about the Y growing up, Brice credits a group of the men including him in sports, which was not typically done as youth and adult areas were separated at that time.

To this day Brice still has strong relationships with people from the group, whom Brice has seen do many things over the years to help support the Y, and have influenced the Belyea family to continue to be involved at the Y decades later.

“I think the major thing that prompts us to want to be involved and stay involved is the fact that the Y is so much more than a building,” Brice explained.

Brice began serving on many Boards with the Y, and in 2007, along with four others, Brice was a Red Triangle Recipient. Their family’s involvement with the Y didn’t stop there.

From their daughter helping to introduce the Stay Strong program, to him serving as the Co-chair of the first Early Learning Centre, now known as the Early Childhood Hub, Brice played a key role in getting the Y involved in critical programs.

When asked about their vision for this year’s Strong Communities Campaign, Brice and Cathy both agreed that addressing the Achievement Gap in priorities neighbourhoods is key, and believe that the Y is in just the right place to help provide wrap-around support for local families.

“Within the last 10 or 15 years, the Y has really increased its presence in the community. It plays a really important role in things like early childhood education, physical and mental wellness and settlement services. We want to ensure we are doing whatever we can so the Y’s work continues in the years ahead.”