“I came to the Y because I didn’t know anybody when we moved here 7 years ago from Colorado,” says Erin Holt, whose children were 5, 2 and 1 at the time. “I wanted to meet people and have a place to work that could offer a work/family balance. The Madison Area YMCA gave me both.” Through the years, lots of babies, toddlers and preschoolers have come to know Erin’s friendly face because she manages Kids Central, the Y’s indoor playground—a place where parents and caregivers can drop off their children for some fun in a safe environment while they get a workout in. Erin started out working three morning shifts a week—and truly appreciated the ability to have employment where her kids could be with her. 

“I loved the people I worked with and my kids loved being at the Y. At 12, 9 and 8, they still love coming here! They’ve met some of their best friends here,” she says.

Within a year and a half, Erin took on a supervisory shift at Kids Central and her career grew from there. When her children started full-day school, she moved to a full-time position as Kids Central & Family Programming Manager that also included the coordination of birthday parties. “The Y has given me the chance to have a career with flexibility,” says Erin, noting that her children also have grown in many ways through the Y’s programming. 

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All of her children learned to swim at the Y. “That makes me feel good because I don’t have to worry about them being safe around water. I know they are,” says Erin. “My son Liam used to be terrified of the pool and the ocean. Now he swims like a fish.”  

A Milton Avenue School 3rdgrader, he also plays travel soccer with the Y. “His coach is a former professional soccer player—it just doesn’t get better than that!” He’s learning great soccer skills and he’s having lots of fun,” says Erin. 

Her daughter, Emma, a 6th grader at Chatham Middle School, is a dancer. “She has a place to be creative here at the Y. She’s gone from a shy little girl to a confident preteen. She loves dancing and she’s really good at it. She’s also part of Y Leaders and Teen Scene. She has a safe place to go and hang out,” says Erin, adding that Maddie, a Milton Avenue School 2ndgrader, is a swimmer at the Y and is also blossoming as a dancer, joining her big sister on stage during performances.

“The Y has done so much for me,” says Erin. “The people I work with are like family to me and my kids, always there when we need them.” And, recently divorced, Erin has needed them. 

“Their support has been incredible,” says Erin, adding that the Y is also helping her finish her bachelor’s degree in business management online through a YMCA pilot program with Springfield College in Massachusetts. “I’m doing things that I never thought I would do career-wise.”