Last month I had the pleasure of meeting a bright, beautiful young lady who has overcome more tragedy and challenge than many of us will face in a lifetime. Only 15, Rabecca’s family life has always been difficult, but when her father suddenly died last year it touched off a storm of emotions that left her frightened, hopeless and alone.
Finding little support at home, Rabecca began acting out at school and got into fights with teachers and friends. With her home life, grades and self-esteem battered, she began thinking that her best option was to simply run away. Fortunately, rather than the streets Rabecca turned to the one thing that’s been a positive, welcoming influence in her life – the South Orlando YMCA.
Warmly embraced, literally and figuratively, by staff, Rabecca began spending more time at the Y, where she found the safety, caring and attention she needed to heal from her grief. And through afterschool tutoring at the Y’s Lockheed Martin Technology Center, she also found the help she needed to reclaim her standing as a top student in math, science and reading.
Now a sophomore at Oak Ridge High School, Rabecca has a 3.8 GPA and firm plan to attend college and law school. After school, she still heads to the Y where she has become one of their most vocal and inspiring ambassadors.
“The Y is a place where you can go if you need help with a problem,” she said. “Kids don’t always have people who care about them, so that’s really important. They welcome you with open arms.”

Rebecca – and thousands of young people just like her – underscore the importance of the Y’s Annual Scholarship Campaign. In addition to providing financial assistance to more than 35,000 deserving kids, families and seniors, dollars raised also helps keep the doors open at 11 Outreach Ys − including South Orlando − which serve our most economically challenged communities.


As a Y member, volunteer or special friend, you know what a life-changing difference the Y can make in people’s lives. That’s why we hope you will join us in ensuring that even more people − regardless of age, income or background – can benefit from Y quality programs and services. 


And as Rabecca’s story reminds us, the results are often nothing short of amazing.




Jim Ferber President/CEO YMCA of Central Florida