We often find that when people are supported, they want to give back to the community that assisted them in their time of need. This is exactly the case with PJ Mcdonald, a former member of our men’s residence program at the Downtown Y.
Born in North Dakota, PJ faced hardship as a young child, having lost his mother to breast cancer at age 15 and enduring several other deaths in his family soon after. Though he spent 14 years living in Kansas, he almost always spent summers in the Syracuse area going to YMCA camps and eventually moved here in 2002. “I was a Y member at the Northwest Family Y in Baldwinsville. Being at the Y meant a lot to me – it was the one thing I asked my family to continue for me even when I didn’t live with them anymore.”
PJ was injured in the workplace and had surgery on his shoulder. He found himself financially challenged and was asked to leave the apartment he was staying in with a friend. He took this as a sign. “I just decided that I was at a point in my life where I needed to readjust and restart myself in a way.” He went to the Rescue Mission from there, but still came to the Downtown Y on a regular basis.
“I would start my day at the Downtown Y by exercising, showering, and using the sauna. It was a great routine and something I looked forward to each day. Someone from the Mission told me about the Men’s Residence program at the YMCA and I wanted to know more to find out if it was an option for me.” PJ met with the Y staff, and after being on the waiting list, came to live at the Downtown Y.
During PJ’s time in the Men’s Residence, he worked on his health and wellness and became actively involved in volunteering to help other residents. He also helped spread the word about the programs at the Y. “I want to be that one person that helps highlight the residence program here, and lets people know that this is a good place to start.”
PJ also kept his eye on his future goals. After he left the Men’s Residence, he graduated from trucking school and is currently mid-way through the training program with the trucking company he now works for.
The Downtown YMCA Men’s Residence is a place of hope for men in overcoming challenges in life. Our programs and services are life-changing, and help people like PJ stay on track with their personal goals.