PEABODY — It was kid stuff that first drew Crissy Jache, 41, to the YMCA.
And from time to time, you can still find the new director of the Torigian Family YMCA in Peabody mixing it up with the kids, including her 9-year-old son, Eli, playing a hectic version of Simon Says on a giant electronic board in the playroom. With all the running back and forth, the game soon has everyone trying to catch their breath, she says.
Fact is Jache’s responsibilities have her playing Simon Says all over Peabody, running and promoting an organization with 11,000 members and a building opened in 2006 that is already undergoing a 5,000-square-foot expansion.
“We’re bursting at the seams,” Jache said.
It’s a change for a woman born in Maine, who can say, “I’ve lived in every New England state.” Most of her growing up, however, was done off the beaten track in Vermont. She attended U-32 High School in Montpelier. “It sounded like a submarine to us, too,” she said with a laugh.
It was small, with fewer than 100 in each grade, a place where students had few secrets from one another.
“You called the teachers by their first name,” she said.
She delayed college. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.” Her interest in kids led her to a part-time position at the YMCA in Goffstown, N.H. Before long, she was running the after-school program. Next, she was hired to be the child care director in Londonderry.
“You just feel you’re making a difference,” she said of her interest in young people. “You feel that you’re that positive person in a child’s life. ... And you see someone develop before your eyes.”
It’s a God-given gift to be able to work with kids, Jache believes.