This is one of a series of stories about the 15 nonprofit agencies that receive money from The Gazette/El Pomar Foundation Empty Stocking campaign that runs through the holidays.
Karissa McNeel said that the YMCA has always been like a second home for her. She started volunteering when she was in sixth grade back in Tennessee.
She got married at age 18 and ended up in Colorado Springs because her husband is in the military.
For the first sixth months of living here, she just sat around at home, which she didn’t like because she was used to doing many things and volunteering.
She then reconnected with the Southeast Family Center Armed Services YMCA.
“The YMCA has meant so much to me since I was little,” she said. “I count it as my home.”
She started volunteering at the YMCA and then a position opened up, so she took her first job there.
“It was my first job here, and I don’t know what I would do without my coworkers.”
The YMCA is a place that she said has shaped her. It is also a place where she feels comfortable and helps serve as a place she can go in Colorado Springs when she misses her family and home.
She said there is a great balance of military and non-military members at the YMCA and that the members and coworkers are the reason it is so special.
“We’re always there for our community,” she said.