50th Logo NSYMCA


50th Y Stories & Membership Highlights 

The North Suburban YMCA has several stories to be told throughout the past 50 years as well as within our community. We have a few here to share with you about the role our Y has played in the lives of members, their children, grandchildren and community. We love hearing their experiences and if you have a story we'd love to hear yours too. 



 Allen Mendell

I have been a Y member since moving to Northbrook in 1980. I have brought my sons and their friends for swimming and open gym while they were growing up. They also went to the great summer camps. I love the YMCA for the family atmosphere and diversity of people and all the different age groups from young children to seniors like me. The people that work there are always cheerful and helpful. I have been in the Workout Buddy program for a year now and really had enjoyed it. My hobbies are working out, gardening, walking my dogs, handball, and going to our farm in Jo Davies county.


Joe Giorango 

Joe started BODYPUMP in May of 2017 and continues to attend the classes three to four times a week. 

"I must say I was a little apprehensive about the class because, to be honest, I didn't think I was in very good shape. After my first few classes, I realized the class is geared toward everyone no matter what skill levels and you get to work at your own pace. All of the instructors are very knowledgeable and show a real interest in helping everyone succeed and obtain their  goals."

Joe has begun taking GRIT classes and finds the classes to be very helpful in attaining good health.

"Both BODYPUMP and GRIT classes are really for everyone. I guarantee anyone taking the classes will feel better about themselves and will continue to notice an improvement in their health and well-being. I hope the BODYPUMP and GRIT classes will continue to remain an important part of the workout and conditioning programs of the YMCA."


  stories web circles Sheedy Family


The North Suburban YMCA is a huge part of our family’s life. Our daughters, who are 9 and 7, have been attending NSYMCA’s summer camps and after-school Y-Time program since they were in kindergarten and pre-kindergarten.  Caitlin and Arianna have literally grown up in the North Suburban YMCA. They have participated in gymnastics, ballet, jazz dance, piano, tap, computer, magic and cooking classes at NSYMCA. But more than the many activities and learning opportunities and fun that we have all had at NSYMCA, our daughters have had wonderful counselors, teachers, and caregivers who have been great role models and inspirations to our girls. And, through all of these years, our daughters simply think that  they are having fun growing up in a great community of people. But, we know that they are learning life lessons and creating friendships that will be important for the years  to come.




Alok Mehta born in Rajasthan, India, is veteran racquetball player. Today, NSYMC is his home court where he trains for racquetball competitions with his son, Devin.  Alok says  “NSYMCA provides just the right set of people and facility to train”. He calls NSYMCA his home court where courts are well kept and fast which helps great deal according to alok. Alok started playing racquetball in 1990. Alok led Team India as captain in world championships in 2014 and 2016, at Burlington Canada and Cali Colombia respectively. He won the first ever gold medal for India in doubles in 2016. At age 50, not only he qualified to tournament by defeating much younger players. He will be one of the oldest athletes at 2018 World Championships.

Alok has had an impressive racquetball career which he attributes to discipline, hard work and support from his friends/family and NSYMCA facility. He holds multiple state, regional, national and world titles. Currently, he is ranked 169 in the world in singles and 33 in the world in mixed doubles. He has been consistently ranked in top players in his age division for past several years. He is one of the most decorated athletes at World Senior Racquetball the Year Award by Illinios State Raquteball Associations three times, 2007, 2016 and 2017. He lives and trains in Winnetka  IL. Devin has won many medals and is on track to be like his dad one day. Good luck Alok and Devin. NSYMCA is proud of father and son duo!

stories web circles No pic male


                       GEORGE T KARKAZIS

I have been a member of the North Suburban YMCA for a period exceeding 25 years, and I make every attempt to be present six days per week, and more often than not, I  arrive prior to the opening of the building.

The facility is first rate with modern equipment and machines It has everything that an up to date health club wants or needs. It is always spotlessly clean and staff is always present if an emergency arises. The staff is friendly and accommodating and my fellow members are solid citizens and amongst my finest friends.

The relationships that I have developed with my fellow members these past 25 years would be extremely difficult to duplicate in any other environment. The goodwill atmosphere of the club and members promotes lasting friendships of the highest quality. It was, indeed, my good fortune on that very first day when I walked into the North Suburban YMCA Building in Northbrook, Illinois.




           SANDY FRUM 


"The YMCA has always been there for my family and for my community." 

 We moved to Northbrook in the late 1970s and immediately began to look for a place for our kids to play and learn. The YMCA filled that need-- whether it was gymnastics or soccer, ballet or swimming. Actually, it was all about the swimming! My kids learned to swim at the Y; then they learned how to compete. And when it was  time to find a Swim Club and a Trainer, I  reached out to the UMCA and they stepped up, putting together a Parent run program and finding someone who would coach and mentor not just my children but all the others who wanted the same thing. Today, I still use the Y as do my grandchildren. Northbrook  just wouldn't be the same if the YMCA wasn't right where it is. The YMCA has always been there for my family and for my  community. It looks for the need and then fills it. The Y doesn't hesitate; they just do it. 


Leslie-Brockley-today    LESLIE BROCKLEY

 "I feel indebted to the Y for the opportunities it has provided me over the years." I essentially grew up at the Y, taking  swimming lessons and cooking classes, going to birthday parties, and working my first ever job as a summer camp counselor. But, I spent the majority of my time at the Y in the ABC studio, falling in love with ballet and modern dance. I am so grateful for my own (15 years!) education and fond memories with North Suburban School of Dance that it was an honor to be invited to join the staff as an instructor shortly after I graduated college. I could not have dreamed how much fun I would have sharing my passion for music, dance, and creativity with my young dancers. I feel indebted to the Y for the opportunities it has provided me over the years and for the wonderful friends, students and families I have met while “working” here.



Joni-Goldstein-1JONI GOLDSTEIN


 “The NSYMCA – my happy place and my home away from home.”

"I began teaching ballet at the Y in 1975, all the while loving every minute of it. I raised three children who utilized the facility and also thought of it as a home base. Many of my students and their families have become good friends, not to mention the staff family who supports me through good times and adversity. There’s nothing like the NSYMCA -- my happy place and my home away from home."




“If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life.”

As a personal trainer specializing in wellness for adults and seniors, I saw first-hand that there was a need for a variety of services to support this important population. I’m proud that the Y has addressed that need by allowing me to bring new, unique and profound programming to adults in our community.
It all started ten years ago when I started a Walking Club, which has evolved into a popular Balance for Walking Class. Then one of my walkers suggested a Caregiver Support Group, and I was able to start it the next week. Out of that grew the Adult Education Series, where the Y hosts experts several times a week who offer free workshops on elder law, financial education, nutrition, dementia prevention and other important topics. Thanks to these presentations I realized that people wanted to stay mentally and socially active as well as physically. We responded with a Brain Games group that meets every Friday and a Y Social Club that has grown to more than 40 members and meets for dinner and lunch every month.

I love that the Y is fulfilling our Social Responsibility to adults by meeting needs whenever we see them - and we are making a difference in people’s lives. You know that saying that goes something like, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”? Well, I’m living it thanks to the Y!




 “The same support and allegiance exists to this day with old and new members.”


Jim Otis, the original architect of the NSYMCA, remembers how Ken and Alta Thiel launched the campaign to create the North Suburban YMCA in the 1960s.
“Ken was so full of energy and positive thoughts that he convinced many of us to jump on the bandwagon. Campaign volunteers canvassed the local neighborhoods, ringing doorbells, recruiting new members, and of course looking for financial support. The final results over a span of maybe two months were truly amazing, giving us the green light to proceed with the building program and continue with the NSYMCA dream. The same support and allegiance exists to this day. We all will forever be grateful for the great gift Ken Thiel and Alta gave to our Y.”




"For over twenty years, I have been an active member of the North Suburban YMCA. This is my “second home as I am here six mornings a week participating in at least two to three classes per day! The Y is an excellent setting for me to spend my mornings exercising!


  From the moment I enter the building, I am greeted by my first name, by the front desk staff, who are friendly, helpful and accommodating! Exercising is truly my passion, makes me feel terrific and gives me the energy of a person much younger than myself!


The instructors are very professional, knowledgeable and are helpful in offering modifications during class. They offer a wide variety of classes at various levels. I enjoy taking classes with all different age groups and have formed nice friendships. Some of the people in my classes even went to school with my sons in Northbrook!


I absolutely look forward to many more years of exercising with my friends at the Y!"


IMG 6206 Jack C


A Thirty-One Year Journey

Thirty-one and a half years ago while in the process of relocating from LA, a realtor trying to close a sale, being aware that I like to play basketball, brought me to the Y to show me the facility.  She thought the proximity of the prospective home to the Y would help close the deal.  I am not sure that the visit had any influence on the sale (we did purchase the home and are still in it), but in retrospect it started me on a 30+ year odyssey of playing basketball at our gym 3 mornings a week when work or life does not intervene.

Over the decades, there has been a recurring cycle of victories and defeats, assists and turnovers, shots made and shots missed.  Players have come and gone (though one from 31 years ago still plays), bones been cracked, fingers jammed, knees twisted, and ankles turned; but more importantly, friendships have formed and life’s challenges been shared.  It is hard for me to imagine life without the healthy release provided by several days a week of competitive camaraderie.  Thirty years on, in retirement, the comradeship frequently eclipses the frustrations of one’s waning athletic ability.

But for me the Y has come to represent something much larger than hardwood, jump shots and rebounds:  I view it as an integral part of the quality of North Shore life.  From the raucous pandemonium of Summer Camp children to seniors seeking counseling on a variety of aging issues, the Y provides “life opportunities and solutions” to a broad swath of our community. 

I have come to believe that the quality of a community is defined by the nature of the organizations that thrive in it.  The Y provides all who enter an opportunity for “wellness” in the broadest way you can define that term – and for that we should be grateful.

Even on days when shots don’t fall and turnovers abound …

Jack Costello 

Fernando Hood 2012 camp


Fernando Hood

Kids who grow up at the Y frequently become its most model citizens, developing into active volunteers and enthusiastic members of the community. Fernando Hood is a great example. The Strong Kids Financial Assistance Fund has made it possible for him to participate in numerous camps and afterschool programs over the years, so his family never had to worry about his safety or the people he was around  when he was not in school.

Fernando Hood and Brad  Schneider 

Now in high school, Fernando can often be seen working in Ytime of Childwatch or helping out at Y events like the recent Spooktacular Halloween Party.

“I can honestly say that I have never had a bad experience at the Y,” beams Fernando. “I’ve learned so much for the Y staff who have always been there, encouraging me to be my best. The Y allows children to have a great childhood and learn to get involved in the community and help others. I hope to continue to be a part of this great organization that gives so much to people and the community.”

Pat Widmar volunteering              PAT WIDMAR

“I first became a fan of the NSYMCA in 2010, when I visited the NSYMCA for a Bank Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) opportunity. My employer mandated that its officers participate in community outreach. I went to check out the Y to see if it could qualify for my CRA opportunity. Well, it certainly did, and then some!

That day, I met with staff members who had so much passion and enthusiasm that when I left, I felt as though I was still totally emotionally engaged and inspired for my entire trip back to the Bank. I saw the many available programs, the childcare center, the swimming pool, the fitness room, the track, and more, and was struck by how many people were there, engaged in some activity all throughout the building. The Staff was (and still is) very passionate, energetic, and driven to a high standard of excellence! I was in awe when I left there that day and to this day, am still in awe of the passion and energy of the Staff for the members of the NSYMCA.

I truly enjoy my Board position as Treasurer and want to do all we can to promote the Y’s message of community involvement, making a difference with care and concern for its members and the entire surrounding community. Had it not been for my visit back in 2010, I would never have learned such a valuable lesson as the NSYMCA mission of COMMUNITY FIRST!”