My name is Ciné and my family and I first became familiar with the Central Queens Y when we decided to send our 5-year old daughter, Wren, to camp. We knew from that first experience that if we ever had another child, we would send him or her to Central Queens’ early childhood education programs. When Dahlia came along, it was a no-brainer—we sent her with her grandmother to classes in the Parenting Center and then to the 3s and pre-kindergarten classes.
While Dahlia was in pre-kindergarten, I was desperately looking for an exercise to help with some back issues I was having; I decided to begin using the pool at Central Queens immediately after dropping her off at school before heading out to work. Having never been a lap swimmer, when I first started swimming I would get exhausted after 15 minutes. Now, only a few years later, I swim a mile (72 laps!) 2–3 times a week.
Over the years, our family has deepened our connection to Central Queens by holding birthday parties, donating auction items to fundraisers, and keeping in touch with friends our daughter made in nursery school. In addition to the socialization and education my children got at Central Queens, they learned about the Jewish holidays which was important to us.
I have also made many new friends. Before I started swimming, I didn’t have many friends outside of my generation. Since becoming a regular at the pool, I’ve met some amazing and inspirational people older than myself. Many of whom swim every day and THEN go the Zumba class! It’s so multicultural in the pool, there are people from all over the world including China, Korea, Russia, and the former Soviet Republics.
As the pool has been closed due to the pandemic, I’ve missed seeing my pool pals. I worried about many of them. Luckily, I recently ran into one of my swim buddies, Linda, while out on a jog and she was able to catch me up on how everyone is doing because she sees many of them in Zoom Zumba. I felt so much better knowing they were healthy and okay.
We love the community, the staff, and the heart of the agency. There are so many examples of how they put into action their mission. One time there was another JCC in the area that had to close their pool and Central Queens opened their doors to them. Another time, I asked one of the lifeguards, Noam, to help with my swimming and he gave me pointers that really helped my stroke. That’s who they are: giving, caring people. I love that my membership dollars help provide support programs for people in the neighborhood.
Occasionally there are newer swimmers who tell me what a good swimmer I am—I tell each of them that I had never swum a lap in my life before I started coming here, and that with practice they can do it too. I love Central Queens and everything it stands for. My daughter is eager to return as a CIT at camp.