My Space to Focus on My Mental Health

My Y Story: Janna Vartanian


Janna Vartanian is happy to see that the Y is expanding its mental health programming and actively promoting the Y as a place to help everyone achieve balance, both physically and mentally.

Janna’s family joined the Y when she became a mother in December 2014. “It was something to do with the children. We loved parent/child swim and Mommy & Me classes.” One of her first swim classes with her twin boys was with Allie Thomas, now Aquatic Director at the Merrimack Branch. “We quickly fell in love with Allie and how engaging she is with all of the children and parents.”

“My sister-in-law had children in the preschool and afterschool program. She used Kids Stop (the Y’s babysitting program) as a time to workout and take time for herself, time that all parents need,” Janna shared.

“I was struggling with post-partum depression and anxiety after my twins were born, and was working through it. I was finding my place as a mother in the world. Sometimes I would come to the Y for peace and quiet. My kids were well taken care of and I had time to workout. My children were taking art classes, playing in Tumbletown, and swimming. I don’t think the people working here (Merrimack Y) realized how much they were helping me.”

When a job opening became available at Kids Stop at the Merrimack Branch, she quickly applied. “I wanted to be part of this village! I felt so proud to say I work for such a wonderful organization. I work on myself to be a better parent and I wanted to do that for others. I love everything the Y stands for. I don’t think of this as a job. My children have grown up here, they have best friends at the Y, I have friends here, and I have gotten healthier here. I love working at Kid Stop. Families feel their kids are well cared for and I love being a part of that. I believe in all of our values and everything the Y stands for. The Y cares about community.”

“I feel the Y saved my life when I struggled as a new mom. I could focus on myself here. I take what was given to me at the Y and I’m giving back. I try to give back in every possible way.”

According to Membership Director Jackie Hancock, Janna’s supervisor, “I am so proud to have Janna on my team, she exemplifies what it is to be a “Y person” her enthusiasm for the Y and for her role in the Y has such a huge impact on everyone around her. It has been so gratifying to watch Janna grow into her role as Kid Stop Supervisor over the last few months, I am excited to see what the future holds for her and what great new idea she is going to come up with next. Janna has shown that she is a great leader to the staff and a source of comfort and connection for the members.

The community within the Y resonates with Janna. She loves meeting new members both in her Kids Stop position and when she works at the Welcome Center. “It’s so important for the Y to provide the space for members to gather and talk. On Wednesdays after Aqua Zumba, we offer a coffee cart by Kids Stop for members to visit with each other. The Y helps with mental health. We are so much more than a gym. We are here for the well-being of individuals. I was able to have that space, and love that I’m part of the space we offer others now.” She shared that she enjoys watching members connect through book clubs, playing games, and meeting to chat over coffee. “It’s a sense of togetherness,” she said.

Janna and her husband Matthew and children Marcus and Jacob, age 7, and Emily, age 5, have lived in Merrimack for 8 years. Originally from the Dominican Republic, Janna moved to Nashua in 2006, then the family moved to their current home in Merrimack in 2013. When their kids were young, Janna and Matthew would walk on the indoor track and spend time catching up with each other while their children were in Kids Stop or in Y classes. “We used to swim all the time at the Y. Now we swim at our home pool in the summer and swim here in the winter,” she shared. “The Y is our happy place.”



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