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When Morgan Joseph describes herself as a "Y person," it's not promo talk or trotting out a cliché.

She took baby swim lessons at a Y, started competitive swimming as a 7-year-old at a Y, attended pre-school at a Y, and eventually gravitated towards a career at a Y.

Today, Joseph is one of the key employees at the YMCA of South Collier (Marco Y), starting as a lifeguard just a couple of short years ago and quickly graduating to aquatic sports and specialty camps director.

More: Charlene Rose: Focusing on the Y mission

On top of that, she's taken on membership drive responsibilities, overseeing financial aid applications, and more recently marketing the Y through social media and email as well as keeping the organization's website percolating.

"I guess I wear many hats," says Joseph, adding that the Covid-19 crisis and the Y's role in community wellbeing has given her new insight into the organization's often-unheralded civic contributions.

"The Y (with its overall mantra of healthy living) is not just fitness," Joseph says. "When we received applications for financial aid (in the wake of the pandemic), I realized how many people relied on jobs in restaurants, cleaning, and the service industry.

The financial aid was made in conjunction with the concern and generosity of the Community Foundation of Collier County.

More: Stephanie Pepper: In it to help Marco's youth

"It makes you realize just how much the Y is embedded in the community. It was eye opening, for sure."

Besides locally, the Y contributes greatly to lesser-privileged areas of East Naples and Everglades City with expansive after school and outreach programs.

Like previous profile subjects in this series (School Age Manager Charlene Rose and Youth Development Manager Stephanie Pepper), Joseph takes any extra responsibilities in her stride.

"We've been taught we need to be adaptable; to be able to pivot quickly," she says. "Things could change tomorrow, or they could change in six months."

An example: With the Y's decision to hold off this year on specialty camps, in particular the Waterwise course staged by the local US Coastguard Auxiliary and Marco Fire Rescue, Joseph indeed "pivoted" towards a compromise.

More: Summer camps underway at YMCA

She's planning a "Safety Around Water" program done virtually through videos. It will be free to the community and publicized through the website.

"We're going to challenge people to send photos or videos. It could be showing water safety with lifejackets, or even just picking up pool toys," Joseph says. "We're going to be teaching water safety from a distance."

Joseph, who experienced those significant early Y days in Kittanning, Penn., likes the term "driven," and happily accepts the fact that CEO Cindy Love expects nothing less from her employees.

"Cindy doesn't bring in people who aren't willing to get their job done and take the initiative," Joseph says. "I don't mind being here six or seven days a week if I need to be."

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Love described Joseph as a "breath of fresh air, as she is always positive and works well with everyone.  She is an effective leader, communicates well, and is flexible.

"Especially with the Covid19 issues, she jumped in wherever there was a need.  Morgan grew up as a Y kid and believes in the Y mission. She has a fantastic work ethic and always puts her best forward. We are blessed that she has chosen to work with our community through the YMCA."

In her spare time, Joseph likes to host "DJ Trivia" and "DJ Bingo" at local sports bars, where she enjoys interacting with people and having fun at the same time.

Which might explain why Edinboro University biology graduate Morgan Joseph, at just 24 years old, is so self-confident and composed when addressing groups or conducting classes at the Y.

For more on the Y's wide variety of programs and activities for adults and children, visit marcoymca.org or call 394-YMCA (9622). Follow on Twitter at ymcamarco; on Facebook @marcoymca, and Instagram at ymcamarco.

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