Hannah Meneses believes “if you give a community a Y,” you create a place of unlimited opportunity, where all community members can go, regardless of circumstance. The Central Lincoln County YMCA is announcing the commencement of its annual campaign, with Meneses’ help.
“There’s that famous saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’” said Meneses, “I was raised with the Y as a part of my life, and to see such a great community and all these children growing up here, and having everyone here from very young to the older community members, that’s most important to me.”
Meneses’ earliest YMCA childhood memories go back to playing on the old wooden playground as a community member from Nobleboro. Later on in life, Meneses — a then-single working mother of 7-year-old Page – had her fondness for the Y strengthened when her daughter returned home from days at summer camp with stories of swimming, canoeing, and archery. For a mother struggling to make ends meet, the camp scholarship program was crucial to her providing an opportunity for her daughter when her working schedule and finances wouldn’t otherwise.
“I used a (camp) scholarship for my daughter when she was younger.” said Meneses. “It’s important to me now to be able to pay that back in the way that I can.”
Other notable changes in Meneses’ life included developing a passion for mixed martial arts — even fighting competitively — until she married Juan and became pregnant with Remy, her “miracle” baby. During her pregnancy, Meneses depended on cycling classes at the Y to stay physically active and continued classes up until the week she gave birth.
With these life changes, Meneses — a performance-based athlete adapted to the lifestyle of a new baby at home, extra weight from pregnancy, reduced activity, and less socialization — held fast to knowing that her Y community was there for her when she was ready to get out. Although hesitant to bring Remy to a place he was unfamiliar with, she decided to give it a try when he was 3 months old and was quickly amazed by the adoration and care the Child Watch staff displayed toward her son, and she resumed her workout routine without worry.
“There’s something here for everyone. (The Y) caters to all of us; it caters to the 3-month-olds, it caters to the 103-year-olds. I love that I can go to see my grandmother every week and we both talk about our workouts. It’s just great to have that thing to relate on all in one place.”
Meneses’ workouts at the gym inspired members and many asked to train with her, which in turn led to her applying for a position at the Y. She quickly became a personal trainer and group exercise instructor. Her desire to work at the Y came not from a financial standpoint, but as a chance to give back to the place that had provided her so much.
“The Annual Fund is really important. I think that people shy away from the Y, thinking they can’t afford it, or they don’t have what it takes to be a part of it. The Annual Fund raises money to help kids go to camp, and provides membership for all. The Annual Fund gives people opportunities they otherwise couldn’t be a part of,” Meneses said.