The YMCA of Talbot County has a great legacy for building strong bodies and minds for children, but senior adults participate for many different reasons.
“I came to the Y with my wife in 1993,” says 84 year old Gil Salmond. “She suffered from arthritis and heard about the pool and thought that it might help her.” Gil had never been to a YMCA during his working years but came with her and enjoyed every minute of the exercise. After 4-5 years, he decided the fitness room would benefit him more than exercising in the swimming pool. His wife, Vi, continued swimming and benefitted from the program. “The Wellness Center has been fun and I know it has helped me,” continues Gil, “but during the exercise I started making friends at the Y and they have come to be friends that I have known nowhere else.” When his wife was admitted to the University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore for a month, his Y friends volunteered to drive him over and bring him back. “I never have been able to get over the kindness shown to me and Vi during her illness and death, I’m very thankful for my Y friends.”
At 55 years old, Kit Hughes is one of Gil’s friends and a co-founder of the Breakfast Club. She became a member of the YMCA in 2000 after retiring from the pharmaceutical industry. Kit gave herself a Y membership as a gift. “Working in pharmaceuticals, I traveled a lot and never had time for me, so I decided I wanted to come to the gym full-time,” said Kit smiling.
Ron Chiste, a 64 year old retired School Superintendent, moved to Talbot County in February of 2000 and the first week he and his wife were here, they joined the YMCA. Ron has always enjoyed physical fitness and teaching the martial arts. He is quick to point out that the social networks he has made can be traced back through the Y. He and his friends begin their exercise routine at 7 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They talk as they exercise and afterwards drink coffee and continue their fellowship at the round table in the lobby. Leon and Pat Holmes believe it makes their day a better day to be with so many good friends.
“About 5 years ago, I started thinking about all the friends I had made through the YMCA” said Ron. “One morning I discussed the idea of a breakfast club with Kit Hughes and she took that idea and ran with it.” In the beginning, there were four people Kit, Ron, Harry (Bud) Hubbard (who is 89 years old) and Joan Bloom, who has since relocated. They started meeting at the Easton Airport Hangar Café once a month. Over the years friendships have grown and today there may be 18-20 Y members meeting twice a month at Hill’s Drug Store in Easton or in a friend’s home for a special holiday. The nice thing about the Breakfast Club is that it spans 4 decades. “It’s not an exclusive club, anyone can start one,” says George and Sharon Mandris, “it’s about friends getting together to have good, wholesome fellowship.”
“Last Halloween, I was invited to have breakfast with the Breakfast Club at Jan and Bob Finger’s house,” said F. Graham Lee, YMCA Chief Development Officer. “I saw Gil wearing a funny mask and greeting people as they came in the back door. I heard conversations about Y members who were sick and how the group could help them. Bob was making pancakes, sausage and eggs for us, and I was proud to be among friends.”