The YMCA of North Central Ohio – Mansfield center is a place for all ages. When Sara Napier walks through the main entrance, she may see 99-year-old Jack sipping on a cup of coffee, the ski ladies who come in during the warmer months or Stephanie from child watch. No matter who Napier runs into, she is sure to be greeted with a ‘hello’ and a warm smile.
The recreation center offers a variety of unique amenities to its members but perhaps the most important feature the facility provides to its members is a sense of community.
Napier, former police officer and now owner of Sam and Co. Kennels, has always had a passion for fitness from her time at Ashland University on a track scholarship to weightlifting as a hobby.
When the new Mansfield YMCA opened its doors in 2000, Napier was drawn to the facility’s modern amenities that allowed her to reach her fitness goals while being a mother and a former sergeant with the Mansfield Police Department.
“I go to the Y a few times a week to get a workout in and it has helped me get through a lot of my anxiety because I can burn off some energy and work the nerves off,” Napier said.
Over the years, Napier connection to the Mansfield YMCA deepened as she and her children created bonds with staff and members to last a lifetime.
Her daughter Aspen is quite the celebrity at the Y, having made friends with many of the employees and people in the community.
“Everybody knows who Aspen is because she’s very personable. She’ll talk to anyone and she knows where everything’s at in the Y, like the desks that have candy. She just walks around like she runs the place and that’s how it’s been since she could walk. They all just adore Aspen,” Napier said.
Napier has utilized the child watch program for all three of her kids and still relies on the care for Aspen, so she is able to engage in her workouts for an hour or more with no interruption and know her child is safe and having fun.
During her 17-year career in law enforcement Napier served as a K9 handler and later managed the K9 unit. Her trustee partner Sam and she would go to the Mansfield YMCA and teach children about their role at the police department and show them a trick or two.
“I did it to show the kids a woman in uniform with her police dog. It’s something some kids never get to see in their whole life,” Napier said. “And the children would go nuts when he did his commands and played ball for them.”
Napier’s police background has shaped her perspective, making her attentive to her surroundings, even in her retirement.
She vividly remembers two instances when her police training came in handy at the Y.
When a man collapsed in the weightroom, she and an off-duty nurse promptly administered CPR and utilized the YMCA’s AED to save his life.
The second incident involved another man who fell ill during a basketball game and collapsed. Napier’s quick thinking and the presence of an AED made a significant difference in the result of the matter.
“I think you’re meant to be where you are at any given time,” Napier said. “I know the facility and the people so well I’m not afraid to hop in if something happens. I would do it for anyone at the Y.”
The Mansfield YMCA is a place that brings people together, fosters a sense of community and empowers individuals to make a difference in not only their lives but maybe someone else’s too.
To learn more about the Mansfield YMCA, visit their website or call 419-522-3511.
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