YMCA of Northern Alberta Foundation

YMCA of Northern Alberta Foundation


Greg Michetti was born and raised in the inner city of Edmonton. He lived with his brother and mother in a one room apartment with a shared bathroom down the hall.  His mother hung a sheet to create the illusion of a separate bedroom; his mother slept on the sofa.

Greg’s early childhood was influenced by his maternal grandfather, the patriarch of the family and a stern man with rigid views on right and wrong. Discipline was administered for bad behaviour yet to be committed – knowing it would be warranted at some point.
Growing up on the streets, Greg was always ready – ready to defend himself, ready to fight for what he believed was rightfully his, ready to protect his brother. “It was as if I had my fist clenched and my elbow cocked every minute of every day,” he says.

Selling stolen hubcaps to the local auto wrecker was a means for Greg and his brother to earn a little spending money. “That’s when I learned the value of repeat business,” says Greg with a smile. “When things were slow we would go over the back fence at night and steal the hubcaps back, only to arrive at the front gate the next day and sell them to the same auto wrecker again.” Greg is pretty sure the old man knew what was going on but wanted, in his own way, to keep the boys safe by having them deal with him and not strangers.

When Greg was 11 years old, one of his friends invited him to go swimming at the YMCA. His friend said it was free! Greg remembers their first visit. As they walked in with their 11-year-old swagger, the old man at the front desk barked at them, “Where do you think you’re going?”

The boys nervously answered, “Swimming.”

“You need towels,” the old man replied, throwing a towel at each of them. “Just be sure you bring them back.”

From that day on Greg and his friend swam often. “For the first time in my life,” Greg recalls, “I found a place where I didn’t feel I had to be ‘ready.’ A place I could let my guard down and truly be a kid.”

Today, Greg is a successful business man, a Y member, a regular donor to YMCA Giving, and a member of the YMCA Heritage Club, which recognizes those who support the YMCA of Northern Alberta through their estate plans.

“I’ve left a gift in my will to YMCA of Northern Alberta Foundation,” he says. “I want to know the values that I share with the Y will continue to support young people in the future, that generations to come will have a safe place with positive role models.”

The YMCA Welcome Village is located along the way Greg walked to school when he was young.

“It was pretty different back in the day,” says Greg. “We would walk in groups, daring the world to interrupt us. We were such punks – but inside we were scared. We were ready to fight or take flight every step of the way, every day. The Welcome Village has changed that part of town. It has become the hub of the community, a place where young people can go to be safe. The transformation is pretty amazing and I am so proud to be part of that change.  

“I’ll always be grateful to the Y for being there for me. Between my grandfather and the Y, I was given a chance to get out of the cycle of poverty into which I was born. With positive role models, I developed a set of values that I still hold dear: the importance of honesty, friendship, fairness and sharing. Like the Y’s new slogan says – getting is good, giving is better!”

For information on how you can make a gift in your will to YMCA of Northern Alberta Foundation, please contact:

Laura Svajlenko     
Planned Giving Specialist 
780-499-3627 or Laura.Svajlenko@northernalberta.ymca.ca 

YMCA Foundation Board

The YMCA of Northern Alberta Foundation was formed on January 4, 1991, for the purpose of holding and investing endowment funds for the YMCA, and for investing earnings on those funds in YMCA programs, services and facilities. The Foundation supports current YMCA programs and is creating a legacy to ensure that the Y will continue to build strong kids, strong families and strong communities for generations to come. To make a donation directly to the YMCA Endowment Fund, click here.

Our Foundation Board is a group of valued and dedicated volunteers who, in partnership with the YMCA Fund Development team, oversees and actively supports the growing endowment fund. A portion of the fund is used each year to support YMCA programs and services proudly delivered in Central and Northern Alberta.

Thank you to all our dedicated YMCA of Northern Alberta Foundation Board volunteers!


John Lilley
Rahim Adatia
Rajan Bhatti
Brent Buchanan
John Corlett
Doug Cronk
Alexandria Fisher
Tim Haak
Bob McColl
Deborah McKinnon
Scot McLeod
Tim Melton
Nick Parkinson
J. J. Tremblay