Teens leading the way at Waynesboro YMCA

Tylik Mawyer and Blake Durrett are typical Waynesboro teens. Active in school, in sports, they both have afterschool jobs that they’re continuing this summer.

Unlike many teens who work in grocery stores or fast food, Mawyer and Durrett have jobs with a bit more in the way of responsibility.

Mawyer, a recent Waynesboro High School grad, works the front desk at the Waynesboro YMCA, and he’s there early some mornings opening the doors, and late some nights closing things down for the day.

Durrett, a rising senior at WHS, is a lifeguard at the YMCA pool, which carries its own weighty responsibilities.

“I’m responsible for all these people. Their lives are in my hands. I feel appreciative that I’m trusted with that responsibility,” said Durrett, who talked his way into the lifeguard training course at the Waynesboro Y as a 15-year-old, working out a work-study tuition arrangement with YMCA executive director Jeff Fife.

“At the time, we really didn’t have that kind of money,” Durrett said. “So I came to Jeff, and I was like, Hey, Jeff, is there anything I can do to bring that cost down? He offered me, You can make your own time sheet, and work your hours off. So I went home, the next night made my contact sheet, came back in and started helping around.”

Durrett helped out in the gym, shoveled snow in the parking lot in the winter, volunteered in child care, and paid the tuition off.

Mawyer joined the staff at the Y two years ago after a brief stint working a fast-food job. The experience at the YMCA has changed his perspective on what he wants out of life.

“This has helped me grow a lot more. I’ve become a lot more mature and a better person. I feel more developed into the workforce area because of the job,” said Mawyer, who is enrolling at Blue Ridge Community College in the fall, with plans to study accounting.

“I go home, and I feel like I’ve made a change in someone’s life. Whether it’s just acknowledging them coming through the door, or helping them, just saying, Have a good day, or something like that. It does make me feel a little bit better about myself and about the community,” Mawyer said.

Durrett, for his part, plans to enlist in the Coast Guard after graduation, with his eyes toward serving in a search-and-rescue capacity.

Fife, as the executive director at the Y, has no doubts that both Durrett and Mawyer will meet their own high expectations for their lives.

“As a young man that grew up in this Y myself, my first paid job was here as a 16-year-old at the front desk. Then I transitioned into child care. Every summer when I came back from school, I worked at the Y. And then I continued to volunteer until I became executive director,” Fife said. “I see and seek out young leaders like these fine young men, because I see people like me, the young man at the front desk, the young man in child care, and I would love to see them continue careers working, and if it’s not a career, volunteering to help others. Whatever they choose to do, they’re going to be great at it.

“I never thought I would give a 15-year-old the responsibility of saving lives in the pool, and a 16-year-old the keys to the entire Y, but we did it because of the special nature of these two young men,” Fife said. “Ten, fifteen, twenty years from now, wherever they happen to land, they’re going to make somebody’s continuing education institution proud to call them alumni, and they’re going to make phenomenal employees, and they’re going to be great in their communities and in their churches and in their homes.”

Story by Chris Graham

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