Supporting a Brighter Future for The McDanel Family

McDanel Boys

The past several years have not been easy for Michelle McDanel and her family. In 2018, after losing vision in one eye due to complications from her first pregnancy, Michelle began noticing additional symptoms during her second pregnancy. Thankfully, she was able to deliver Lochlan, now 3 years old, and Ruairidh, now 2 years old, shortly thereafter. Michelle did all of this while losing vision in her other eye, losing feeling in her hands, and preparing her family to relocate from Alabama back to her hometown of New Castle, Pennsylvania. 

The McDanel family was not new to relocation; in fact, they would relocate every six to eight months around military bases, since Michelle’s husband Joel retired from the military and continues to serve as a helicopter mechanic. Relocating can be tough on any family, and under these exceptionally stressful conditions, Michelle knew that one of their most urgent needs was to acquire help raising her young family. She wanted their children to always feel loved, supported, safe and happy. Michelle found this at the Lawrence County YMCA. 

In January of 2020 she received a diagnosis for her condition and realized that now, more than ever, she would need to lean on family. “To me, the Y feels like the family you didn’t know you had,” says Michelle. Before choosing the Y as her child care provider, she corresponded with our Child Development Center Director, who assured Michelle that the priority was to get Michelle and her family settled in the area before worrying about payment.  The compassion and concern of the YMCA staff before her children were even enrolled was the selling point for Michelle.  By June of 2020 they were officially relocated and Lochlan and Ruairidh were enrolled full time into the Child Development Center. 

Through the instability in her family’s life, the Y remained constant in their commitment to care for her children, providing them a safe and nurturing environment where they could learn, grow, laugh and play.  “The Y was the one consistent thing in our lives during this time.  It was a Godsend -- it still is a Godsend.” Before joining the YMCA, Michelle says that her life “was a blank.”  She was overwhelmed with being a mother of young children, her own personal health issues, and frequent relocation required for her husband’s job. But because of her confidence in the YMCA, she can push her boundaries at work and in her personal life which she says, “makes me better -- a better partner, worker, friend and mother.”  Michelle credits the Y as a co-parent and support system that helps nurture, protect and care for her children and says, “the Y will always be part of my family.”