From Afterschool Kid to Afterschool Counselor: Gabe’s Story
Originally a Y kid himself, Gabe Vasquez has worked his way to helping kids learn, grow, and thrive in the Y Afterschool program.
I was in the Y Afterschool program at P.S. 22 in Staten Island throughout most of elementary school. I was a very introverted kid and didn’t really speak to the other students in the program too much.
However, one of my best memories is working on a different crossword puzzles every day with my counselor, Amanda. Each day, I would try to finish the puzzle faster and faster. Her amazed reaction to me finishing these puzzles is what motivated me to keep working and helped me to gain confidence and open up to my peers a little more.
A few years ago, I went back to P.S. 22 to help them with their chorus classes. While there, one of the teachers presented me with the opportunity to become a Y Afterschool Counselor at P.S. 36 in Staten Island.
And this year, I’ll be starting my first summer as a Camp Counselor at the Staten Island South Shore YMCA.
I was so humbled by the opportunity put before me. It was in that moment, I remembered how my counselors helped me to feel empowered and confident, and I knew that’s exactly what I wanted to do for my kids.
Every day, I will strive to teach my campers skills and values that will better them as adults.
I think the Y is crucial for our younger generation. The most important part of our job as YMCA employees is to help all of the kids that walk through the Y’s doors. We’re meant to help shape them into the adults they will become because they are our future.