By Northeast Community Center staff
On a recent snowy morning, while most people were still snug in bed, Alex Roach strapped her Yaktrax spikes onto her boots, donned a reflective vest and flashing bike light, and stepped into the wintery weather to make the 4.5 mile trek to the Northeast Community Center.
This daily journey began well before dawn for Alex – she left at 3:00 a.m., planning to arrive at the NECC by 5:00 a.m. During December, January and even into February, as Portland was reeling from the ongoing storms that closed many businesses, made driving hazardous and delayed TriMet schedules, Alex arrived at the NECC by 5:00 a.m. every weekday – and on Saturday mornings too.
You might conclude that Alex is so dedicated to her fitness routine that she cannot bear to miss a morning workout. Instead, Alex is NECC’s morning lifeguard and deep-water workout instructor and her dedication and commitment is actually to the NECC members and other early morning swimmers who cannot bear to miss their own early morning workout or swim, regardless of the weather.
Such dedication is extraordinary, but those who know Alex are not surprised. Alex has a remarkable work ethic, a long history with aquatics programs and an appreciation for the sense of community at the Northeast Community Center. Alex got her start in aquatics instruction when she was just 12 years old, stepping in as an assistant teacher for the synchronized swimming class at the Southeast YMCA. Thirty years ago, Alex began working as a lifeguard at the Northeast Family YMCA. When the NECC took over the facility and opened in 2005, Alex stayed on as a lifeguard, swim instructor and aquatics fitness instructor.
“I just like the people,” Alex explains, as the reason she has stayed all these years:
This 30-year connection with swimmers from northeast neighborhoods has given Alex a unique perspective on activity and aging. Alex notes that “the faces have changed over the years, and the way people think about fitness has also changed.”
She has observed first-hand that older adults have become more active as a group, and the camaraderie in adult aquatics classes encourages and supports active older adults in maintaining a regular fitness routine and promoting an active lifestyle.
The intergenerational aspect of the NECC is also important to Alex, and she continues to teach youth swim lessons throughout the year.
So how does Alex get to work when there isn’t a “snowpocalypse?”
She most often rides her bike, but sometimes takes TriMet or occasionally drives. But regardless of the weather, Alex goes above and beyond to serve those who use the Northeast Community Center to support their health and well-being. She is uniquely dedicated to her community.