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501 S Royal Oaks Blvd., Franklin, TN 37064
Today's 4:45 a.m.-10 p.m.
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501 S Royal Oaks Blvd., Franklin, TN 37064
Today's 4:45 a.m.-10 p.m.
Directions | More Hours

Marcus Nelson Shares His Y Story

February 4, 2019

Your Donation, My Y Story:

Franklin Family YMCA member and father, Marcus Nelson, is focused on one goal: “I want to be a good provider and available for my children. When they get off the bus from school each day, I want them to see that daddy’s home.”

In 2016, Marcus became the sole provider and caretaker for his three children. A new resident of Orange County, California, at the time, Marcus didn't have much support, so he decided to move closer to family in Nashville.

“While [moving] was a healthy decision for my children, I was not doing well emotionally," Marcus says. "I became increasingly depressed. It wasn’t long before my emotional state affected my ability to maintain my work-life balance.”

"I was at the end of my means"

Shortly after moving his family to Nashville, Marcus lost his job. “At the time,” Marcus recalls, “I was working for a good friend who gave me grace and every opportunity to thrive remotely, but I ended up losing my job because I let my emotions take over. I wasn’t getting any help.”

With Marcus’ credit cards maxed out and his savings account depleted, Marcus had to apply for food stamps to stay afloat. “I felt so ashamed and broken,” Marcus confesses, “I have always been a good provider for my family, so losing my job felt defeating. I didn’t want to admit that I was at the end of my means.”

Marcus recalls the day he came into the Franklin Family YMCA to reconcile his debt. “I had been a member of the Franklin Family YMCA for a few months when my first credit card payment bounced. When I finally came in to speak with the membership office about my account, I was wearing a Green Bay Packers T-shirt and Franklin YMCA member Hector Belardo noticed me and politely asked if I was from the Green Bay area. Hector went out of his way to talk to me, and he made me feel welcome and included."

That day, Hector invited Marcus to join him and his workout partner Andre Vargas for a workout, and Marcus accepted.

A new lease on life

After just a few workouts with Hector and Andre, Marcus noticed a shift taking place within his spirit.

“My workouts with Hector and Andre started to change my demeanor and my outlook on my life and my financial situation. I felt a sense of belonging when I came to the Y, and I no longer felt like a foreigner. Having Hector and Andre in my life to hold me accountable to get healthy and strong for my family was something that I needed desperately. In no time at all, I began to see and treat my life as a fresh start.”

Marcus feels blessed that his family still has access to the Franklin YMCA during this time when he is unemployed. Marcus and his children are recipients of Open Doors, a YMCA program that provides membership subsidies to adults and families in need.

“The first time I learned about Open Doors was this past spring during the Franklin YMCA’s Annual Giving Campaign. It was so inspiring to learn that members at the Franklin YMCA make donations to the program each year, so that families like mine can have access to YMCA programs and childcare during hard times.”

$117,000 in donations

In 2018, members and staff of the Franklin Family YMCA collectively raised $117,00 to fund the Open Doors program. To date, the Franklin Family YMCA has awarded 257 families and 235 children in Franklin with membership subsidies, giving them access to opportunities to learn, grow, and thrive in a safe and nurturing environment.

Today, Marcus credits the Franklin Family YMCA with helping him become a stronger man for his family. “When I first got to the YMCA, I would cry at a pindrop...I felt so alone. Now, because of the support and encouragement I received from my friends at the YMCA, I am more prepared to be the man that my children need for me to be.”

Although Marcus is still in search of a job that will grant him the flexibility to be available for his children after school, he remains encouraged that his next job is just around the corner. “They need me now more than ever, and I am not going to settle,” Marcus affirms.

In the meantime, Marcus and his family remain grateful to those donors who've made it possible for the Franklin YMCA to be a constant in their lives.

Visit our blog for more stories and news from the Franklin Y.

YMCA of Middle Tennessee

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1000 Church St.
Nashville, TN 37203
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