Each week, the Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA highlights a member of its staff, a YMCA member or a volunteer as part of its "We Are Y Wednesdays" series on social media. Today, meet Althea Llewellyn, the Y's Square Foot Gardening Specialist, educator and speaker who helped bring the Y's garden to life this year.
“The YMCA has been an important and integral part of my life for so long that it was a natural and welcomed shift from member to staff."
My journey with the Y began over 23 years ago when my mother gave my daughter the gift of swimming. She signed my daughter up for "Mommy and Me" classes and it became "Grandma and Me"classes, because it was my mother who got into the water with my daughter Savannah, while I watched and cheered them on from the sidelines.
From that moment on, my family spent many years at the Y: taking classes; meeting new people (some would become close friends), and cheering my daughter on as she rose from the ranks of guppy to a national swimmer on the Y Swim Team. The Y became a valuable part of our lives and an important extension of our community. Fast forward to today.
Since 2017, I have been on staff at the Y as a seasonal educator, teaching organic gardening to close to 100 summer campers each week. As a Square Foot Gardening Specialist, I teach the campers about the simple and efficient method of gardening created by Mel Bartholomew. We spend time in the Y's garden, which is strategically located in the middle of their parking lot. The children sow seeds, water, harvest and identify plants and insects. They get hands-on lessons in entomology, botany, nutrition and more.
Most importantly, they are learning about how food grows from seed to plant and tasting and experiencing the wonders of the garden, all while having lots of fun. It's great to continue to be a part of this wonderfully diverse and growing Y community. I love that I can give back to the place that has enriched my life in many ways.