NORTHDALE- Jennifer Turmel got her first job at the YMCA when she was 15. She has never left.
She is the director of memberships at the Bob Sierra YMCA, 4029 Northdale Blvd., a place she has loved since her first days there. When she started, her job was to do a little bit of everything. From there, it grew into the prime position it is today, where she does all she can to make her heart's home a better facility.
"We have a great program here," Turmel said. "We are always starting new programs and it just keeps getting better and better."
Turmel worked at the YMCA while attending Wharton High School, then while going to St. Leo College in Pasco County. She said she always knew she would someday make a career at the YMCA.
The Northdale YMCA offers programs for everyone and it is up to Turmel to boost membership. The facility might not be large - even if it is stretched between two buildings - but there are big things coming, she said. According to her, there is never a problem with potential new customers.
"This place sells itself," she said. "All people have to do is stop by and see for themselves. We offer something for everyone and it's also a great place to make friends. There's always something to do."
Turmel, who has a 7-year-old daughter, said that things are only beginning at the Northdale site. There is a major expansion drive for a new gym for its competitive gymnastics team. More than $1.1 million has been raised and Turmel said the YMCA is only about $250,000 shy of the goal to build the gym.
But don't worry, the old gym isn't falling apart. It is still the home of summer casual and competitive gymnastics, swimming and programs including flag football, basketball, competitive and recreational swimming, and many other programs. But the goal of the YMCA, according to Turmel, is about more than fitness.
"The YMCA builds confidence and self-esteem," Turmel said. "A lot of people here have come to regard it almost as a second home and we take pride in that. I take a lot of my experiences raising my daughter to what I bring to the YMCA. I want these kids to grow up the same way as my daughter. The things we do here are so great and I like knowing my daughter is spending time in this kind of setting."
For more information on the Bob Sierra Family YMCA in Northdale, call (813) 962-3220.