YMCA Stories

December 09, 2014

Safe Haven: Hugh's Y story

Hugh Pettiford (left) with YMCA Men's Residence Director Richard TurkHugh Pettiford came to the Downtown Y Men’s Residence 10 years ago out of desperation.

“I was struggling,” he said. “I had lost my job and I was hopeless.”

He had two young children, who had been abandoned by their mother. He knew he couldn’t care for them himself. He placed them with their grandmother and moved into the Y so that he could devote more of his limited income to support them.

After gaining work experience as a volunteer, he was hired as an overnight care attendant at a group home for people diagnosed with disabilities. To get to work each evening, he either rode his bicycle or took a long bus ride.

With housing support from the Y, he could afford to buy his children the clothing, shoes and school supplies they needed to grow and thrive. You could see his pride with every gift he gave on holidays and birthdays.

Today, Hugh is no longer on public assistance or YMCA on-site rental assistance. His daughter has a job and is going to college. His son plays on his high school varsity basketball team and “his teachers love him,” Hugh boasts. And now that his children are almost grown, he has purchased his own car and he’s looking for an apartment of his own.

We all experience tough times and difficulties in life. While our challenges may be different, the Y is a safe haven from the storm. For Hugh and for so many others, it’s a place to regain health, strength and well-being,

CAPTION: Hugh Pettiford, at left, said help from Downtown YMCA Residence Director Richard Turk was critical in helping him get back on his feet.

Filed under Social Services
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