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A Great Place to Work and Play

For Jennifer Fell, the Y has always played an instrumental role in her life. In fact, her father, George Howie, was on the Y’s Board of Directors back when the Town and Country YMCA first opened in Oconomowoc in 1965 and she recalls fond childhood memories of her family attending Y outings and ski trips with other families in the community. As an adult, she continued to be active at the Y by working out, competing in triathlons and in 1979 she began working at the Y in the Kid’s Corner and later as a fitness instructor. It was a great place to work and play. She could bring her small children and it provided her with a strong social network.

In 1990, things changed dramatically for Jennifer when she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Suddenly the active lifestyle she once knew became more difficult. In the beginning, she was able to continue doing many of the same activities she always enjoyed, but in 1990, she suffered a flare-up that affected her motor skills. “My MS is a physical battle, a spiritual battle, a psychological battle and an emotional battle. You have to fight it on every front. If not, you can get depressed,” Jennifer shares. “The Y has been instrumental in my fight.”

Jennifer has been an inspiration to her daughter, Britta Fell, Y Aquatics Coordinator. Growing up at the Y and participating on swim team, it was a natural next step to become involved at the Y herself. She feels strongly about the positive role the Y has played in her mother’s life. “Despite all of the challenges, my mother has continued to stay as active as possible. Last October, she celebrated her 60th Birthday. She still comes to the Y five to six times a week for water aerobics, cycling and many other classes. She still volunteers in the Child Care Center every week. If she didn’t do all these things, she would probably be in a wheelchair by now.”

“The Y is a great outlet for anyone struggling with Chronic Disease,” Jennifer explains. “There are instructors there to help you to know what to do and when you leave, you feel great! I love the Y. It’s like a vacation. I can see friends and feel a real camaraderie, plus I get the benefits of exercise.

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