Maxine: Portraits of the 14th Street Y


I’ve lived in New York all my life, except for 2 years when I lived in Israel. Basically, I started coming here myself since I was 65, because I had never really exercised in my life. I never had to, I never wanted to. I realized that if I didn’t start, I would become a very creaky old lady. I’m a social worker by profession and I started to come here when I was still working, I think. So I’ve been coming to the Y to do aerobic exercises for probably 10 years. My daughter came here, she went to a Y day camp when she was a kid. The Y has always been in our lives since we moved to Village View.

I need a class, the discipline, because if I went to the gym, I’d do it for 10 minutes then say “this is hell, I’m leaving.” I just find it a very comfortable place to be. It’s very social too. We go to lunch after aerobics. I should really come more than two days a week. I met one of my very good friends in that aerobics class–we hang out on the weekends and get lunch.

It’s a neighborhood institution. I don’t know where else I would go–this is the place. It’s very convenient for me because I live on Sixth Street and First Ave, where I’ve lived since 1969. It’s always been here. By the time my daughter was 5, it was an established place for kids that you trusted.

Community is a place of belonging. A place with some common values. A place where people respect and care for one another. A place where there are people you can call on.

There was this amazing woman, Denise, who worked the security desk and left recently. She was full of life. She was very special because she would light up when you saw her. She radiated goodwill.

Portraits of the 14th Street Y
is a photography project by Bridget Badore that tells the stories behind the many faces of the 14th Street Y community, including members, staff, teachers, trainers, artists, caregivers, families, and local business owners. Each year, the unique stories of more than 20,000 New Yorkers is woven into the fabric that makes the 14th Street Y a Downtown home for all.

Learn more about this exciting photography series here. You can also follow along and support the Downtown Stories on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.