Life-changing experiences at Y

Mary Evans

Growing up, I had a special role model and in getting involved in my world, my aunt, Alice Pollard. When I was 11 she got me involved in two life-changing ways.

The first was youth membership with the YWCA. The second was volunteer fundraising with The Central Texas Sickle Cell Anemia Association.

I remember going to the YWCA, 301 Cherry Street in East Waco, after school and in the summer. I was young and not privy to hierarchical matters, but I knew that one lady, Martha Renfro, was in charge over the whole YWCA.

She was very strict and demanded respect from us girls. I remember learning so much at the Y and being involved in many activities.

Outside was a garden where the young girls in the community, mostly from East Waco would come and be exposed to learning how to grow tomatoes, mustard greens, onions and other vegetables.

Mrs. Hazel Hights was the youth director, a soft-spoken woman who was very talented in so many ways. She was a devout Christian who was there every time I came to the Y.

She would take me different places and expose me to the community in different ways. It seemed like she knew how to do everything. She played the piano, taught us many Christian songs, taught us how to sew and took care of the children/teens who would come to the afterschool program.

We learned how to create all kinds of crafts with plaster paris and paint them. I sewed my first item of clothing at the Y, and it was Hazel Hights who taught me. It was a canary yellow skirt with detachable suspenders made with the same material.

In time Mrs. Renfro retired and they promoted Mrs. Hights to executive director of the Y. Not only was she director, she was the cook, the program director and the janitor.

We had many events over the years that included an annual conference with YWCA youth called the TOC, Texas Oklahoma Conference (TOC).

One summer I was elected teen executive leader of the conference. After each TOC we would "recreate" the conference on a local level, by having a "mini conference" a few weeks after the big one.

Looking back, I have no idea how I afforded to attend these functions. All I know is it was made possible by people like Mrs. Hights and my Aunt Alice.

When I was away from the Y, I was still involved with it at school. We had a group called the Y-Teens. I would participate with fellow students at Jefferson Moore as a freshman, and on to Waco High after we consolidated schools.

Mary Evans is a college instructor.

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