Healthy Individuals and Families Story

Healthy Individuals and Families Story


Every day, people come to the YMCA and speak with staff about financial assistance. Some of these people have lost their jobs, some are newcomers to the city or the country and some have unexpected family challenges — they represent all ages and backgrounds. The one common thread is their desire to become part of the YMCA community and access opportunities to support their growth and development in spirit, mind and body.

In 1999, Rahim Moloo was one of those people. Rahim's life had been turned upside down less than a year earlier, and he was now turning to the YMCA for help.

Rahim was in his early 20s, working as an apprentice machinist, when he started experiencing recurring headaches and vision problems. He attributed this to late nights out with his friends, typical for someone in their 20s. But then Rahim noticed that the headaches weren't just coming the morning after a party, and that his eyesight was getting much worse. He finally made the decision to see an optometrist, who confirmed that he was completely blind in his left eye. The optometrist made an appointment for a CT scan the following week. After a fretful weekend at home, with his headaches getting worse, Rahim went to the emergency room at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. The doctors found a brain tumor bigger than a baseball and immediately transferred him to the University of Alberta hospital.

Two weeks later, Rahim went in for surgery where they attempted to remove the tumor. Rahim felt better after the surgery, and was surprised when his neurosurgeon, Dr. Robert Broad, told him that they had barely touched the surface. He was faced with two options – allow the tumor to continue to grow and cause complete blindness and eventually death, or undergo brain surgery and have the tumor removed. December 18th was Rahim's birthday, and he treated it as though it might be his last one. The next day, he underwent an 8-hour surgery to attempt to remove the tumor from his brain. Thankfully the surgery was a success and the bulk of the tumor was removed. Even though the tumor was not cancerous, Rahim still required additional treatment to remove the remaining pieces. Two months later, Rahim started five weeks of radiation.

Rahim was now faced with a new reality. He couldn’t continue along his chosen career path as a machinist, and he had no income. He wasn't allowed to drive and, while he still saw his friends on occasion, it wasn't the same. Depression was starting to set in and Rahim’s doctor became concerned with his cholesterol levels and early indicators of Type 2 diabetes. He encouraged Rahim to become active.

With no transportation and no income, Rahim didn't think he had a lot of options. Fortunately, he lived across the street from the William Lutsky Family YMCA, where his mother was a member. She encouraged him to apply for a membership through financial assistance.

'That was one of the most terrifying moments I had, walking into the building and asking for help'.

Rahim shared his story with Diane at Member Services, who still works there. She showed him around the facility and helped him book an appointment with someone to discuss financial assistance. After receiving a subsidized membership, Rahim began to visit the YMCA a couple of times a week to work out.

Late in 2000, his doctor encouraged him to start volunteering as a part of his recovery. The obvious choice for Rahim was the YMCA, and he started to volunteer at the front desk. He gradually volunteered more frequently, up to three or four times a week, four hours at a time.

Two years later, at another doctor’s appointment, Rahim was told that he could go back to work on a part-time basis. He asked some of the YMCA staff what the process would be if he wanted to apply for a position, and he was told to speak with Anita. He was really nervous, but he gathered up his courage and asked Anita if she had part-time hours available for him. Anita's response? “It's about time!”

Rahim started work the following Monday.

One day while working the front desk, Rahim saw Dr. Broad's wife come in, and he shared that her husband had saved his life. Needless to say, she was surprised to hear that this friendly face that she had seen every day had been one of her husband's patients. That wasn't the whole story, though. As Rahim says,

'Yes, Dr. Broad saved my life. But the Y did as well. Sometimes I tear up when sharing this story – not because of what I went through, but because of what the Y did for me. What they did for me, I can never truly express. I'm a Y-lifer, indebted to the YMCA for getting me in the door and giving me a positive change'.

Today, Rahim is the YMCA Experience Supervisor at William Lutsky Family YMCA. He oversees financial assistance interviews and ensures that individuals and families have the same opportunity for change that he received 18 years ago.