Ellie retired from the Y in 2001. Her position in the Y along with her foresight helped her prepare for a great retirement.

Tell Us About Your Career

Before I talk about myself, let me say this: The Y is a place that attracts special people who want to “give back” to their communities. And the Y gives those people a lot of responsibility, trust and support to do the right things and also to try new things.

I was a single mother when I got my first job in the YMCA, and I barely knew what the Y was. The year was 1972, and I answered an ad placed by the Y in Providence, Rhode Island. I got the job as an Administrative Assistant in the accounting department.

Then the Assistant to the CEO left and I moved to that job. Part of my responsibilities pertained to HR (Personnel, back then). At some point the Y created a position called Personnel Director, and as the first one in that position it was up to me to create some structure where previously there had been very little.

After 10 years with the Y in Rhode Island, I moved to Chicago and worked for Y-USA at the Training Center, based at O’Hare airport. Following that gig I spent 10 years at the YMCA of Greater New York in Training & Development. My last 3 years were at the YMCA of Eastern Union County, in New Jersey. So you could say the Y gave me an opportunity to move around the Northeast a bit.

How was the transition to retirement?

I had grown up in Rhode Island and spent lots of time on the Cape (Cape Cod that is). So along with my partner Sy (who’s a retired Y-guy, from Massachusetts) we decided to live somewhere in New England within a 300 mile radius of Rhode Island. The Cape was in that target area, so we bought some property in South Dennis. The Cape is just beautiful, and every year we host an extended July 4th gathering for our friends. It’s more than just one cookout.

Most people need to learn how to retire, because all of a sudden, all of their routines are gone. Retirement isn’t a vacation; it is what we make of it. Personally, when I first retired I played tennis — a lot. It provided me with a new routine and put me in touch with lots of great people. When I was 72 I went to the USTA Senior Tennis Championships with my club team. That was a great experience!

tell us about the process of saving for retirement

Well, since I was in HR for the better part of my Y career, I was the person telling everyone else that they should save for retirement. Personally, I saved what I could when I could. But remember, I was a single mother, so sometimes things were tight financially.

If You Could Give One Piece Of Advice To Current YMCA Staff
About Saving And Planning For Retirement, What Would It Be?

It’s important for YMCA staff to consider that they will live a good long life, and during that time they will need to support themselves. So, save a little extra but also live life now. Be in the moment. You can do both!