Facing Life’s Transitions with Yoga and Friends

My Y Story: Arlene Magoon


After a fulfilling career in preparedness emergency management with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency, an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security), Arlene is happily retired. “My retirement has allowed me to take things that I loved at my work and I can now transfer these skills into volunteer roles,” she said. She is now a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) member for the town of Amherst, where she resides. “I’m a national member of CERT, and represent New England.” Arlene just returned from a conference in Galveston, Texas, where she did a presentation on how Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts can get involved with Teen CERT, so they can assist in actively preparing communities should a local emergency strike. (During an emergency, Teen CERT team members help organize volunteers, assist in evacuations, give assistance to survivors, provide damage assessment information, provide shelter support, and assist with crowd control, for example.)

“I’m still in leadership roles and promoting things that will help communities,” she said. Arlene volunteers on average 20 hours per week.

When Arlene retired on January 1 of this year, she not only planned her volunteer roles, but also became more actively involved in the Y.

“I’ve been a Y member for 5 years. My husband passed away just when we became empty nesters. We were looking forward to our life together. At that time exercise was not in my vernacular,” she said.  After caring for her husband during his illness, she was ready to invest more time into herself. “I needed to be with people and I needed to move my body. The first class I took at the Merrimack Y was gentle yoga. I cried during the yoga class. I cried because I was still alive and living a life without him. Being at the Y helped me connect with other people and do something good for my body. He was sick for five years.

“I kept coming taking different classes and exercising on the machines.  This was the start of making my new routines. That’s how important Y was to me. I’m feeling great. I look forward to coming!,” she said. She loves the Strength and Stability group exercise class and comes to nearly all of the gentle yoga classes.

She added, “Here’s what’s really fun about these classes. When I don’t’ show up and come to the next class, they (instructors and classmates) say ‘hey we missed you.”  “Who does that?” Arlene said.

The Y is working with Merrimack Motivators the local Toastmasters club, to bring a 6-week Speechcraft Program to the Y this winter. This will be aimed at adults who are seeking to improve their public speaking skills or become effective public speakers. Arlene is part of this initiative. “I’ve been involved with Toastmasters for 10 years. I don’t think I could have done my job without Toastmasters. I did a lot of presentations in my job, often delivering difficult news to those facing disaster situations,” she said.

In addition to her commitment to volunteering and enjoying the Y, Arlene does a lot of water color art. “I like taking classes and learning new things,” she said. Arlene just hosted Grammy Camp for her four grandchildren at her home. “We did artwork, made an obstacle course for my new puppy (a 14-week-yellow lab named Sammy), went to the drive-in and saw Minions and roasted marshmallows. The rules are different at Grammy Camp, the kids can stay up as late as they want!,” she said.

Arlene, we are so happy that you are a member of the Y and the Y community has been part of your wellness journey!






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