“I Feel Like I’m at a Party with 50 of My Closest Friends”

Letter submitted by Marsha Brown, Brooks Family YMCA member

Dear Mr. [Carl] Simcox:

For almost a year, it has been my family’s good fortune to be an active member of the Brooks Family YMCA. Glenn and I had relocated to Jacksonville and were researching various places to work out when we were referred to the Brooks Family YMCA by an employee at The Mayo Clinic. We immediately joined on the spot, as a result of the friendly and professional greeting and tour from the front desk staff. Additionally, the numerous group exercise schedule offered every day and the vast selection of times sealed the deal.

All of my life, I have been a person who loves exercise classes, and have taken many of the classes offered at the Brooks Family YMCA. I have been impressed by quite a few of the instructors. However, there is one person who stands out from all the rest. Her name is Helenjoy Ojastro, and she teaches a class called Body Jam on Saturday and Thursday night.

Group Exercise fun at the Brooks Family YMCA

Group exercise fun at the Brooks Family YMCA. Helenjoy is sitting in the front row, second from left.

What makes Helenjoy Ojastro so outstanding are her enthusiasm, work ethic, and patience with everyone, including the disabled.   The energy she brings to every workout is contagious. Even if I come to the class tired, watching Helenjoy give everything she’s got into the workout changes my whole attitude and before I know it, I’m working out harder and most importantly having a wonderful time. Helenjoy makes Body Jam so much fun and that is the key ingredient to people coming back. I feel like I’m at a party with a bunch of my 50 closest friends, because most everyone is laughing out loud, shouting, clapping, and having a joyful time together.

I am very sensitive to the Down Syndrome members of our community. There is a young man who comes to Helenjoy’s Body Jam class and works out directly in front of the stage. Helenjoy always has time for him and is so kind, patient, and understanding. What a gift she is to all of us.

I have observed that Helenjoy embodies the Christian values that the YMCA projects nationwide. After the class is completed, she has time for everyone who wants to speak to her.

Mr. Simcox, I wanted to take the time to make you aware of this exceptional young woman in your organization from a member’s prospective, and what she has so graciously contributed to your team. I would attend any and all classes that she teaches in the future. In my estimation, Helenjoy has a following of members who feel the same way that I do about her. I know this, because they are there all the time as I am. I do hope that you share this letter with her and solicit her input and perspective on what other talents and insights she can offer the Brooks Family YMCA!

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read my letter. Should you have any questions or would like to speak to me directly; I am available at your convenience.

Lastly, thank you for the secret Santa Christmas tree. My husband and I really enjoyed purchasing a bunch of gifts for the two youngsters that we selected.   This is the true meaning of Christmas.

May you and your family have a healthy New Year full of laughter and goodness.

Best wishes,

Marsha Brown


*Carl Simcox is the Executive Director of the Brooks Family YMCA.