There was a time when Talybra Hollins thought she would never walk again. A simple mosquito bite advanced into West Nile Virus, an infection that resulted in a long battle and even longer recovery.
Today, Hollins swims at least twice a week, is making health and wellness a top priority, and is the new operations director at the Lake Houston Family YMCA.
“My recovery was a miracle,” she said. “Learning to walk and write again, I was healed! Health and wellness became my personal passion.”
Hollins also knows all about tackling challenges.
“One of the greatest trials this Y faced came with Hurricane Harvey,” she said. “We were devastated by 8 feet of water. The transformation this Y experienced post Harvey, however, has been incredible.”
With every challenge comes opportunity and the Lake Houston Y, which has served the Lake Houston community since 1979, reopened 18 months after Harvey with a restored and refurbished facility, more offerings, and improved amenities.
“We offer group classes, personal training, the latest fitness equipment, and so many wonderful youth programs such as sports, swim, after school and many more enrichment-based development opportunities for our kids,” Hollins said.
She is particularly proud of the Lake Houston Y’s commitment to providing more than $350,000 this year in financial assistance to families who wouldn’t be able to afford to participate in the Y’s many programs without assistance.
“Our Y, like so many other Lake Houston businesses, was impacted by COVID-19,” said Hollins. “The YMCA of Greater Houston saw a loss financially and had to furlough and lay off many full-time staff since March, but it was still imperative that we focus our efforts on our community and partner with organizations across Houston.”
YMCAs throughout Greater Houston opened 20 food distribution sites and essential daycare sites providing childcare to essential workers, then opened their learning centers to provide schooling, additional enrichment programs, and assistance to students who were learning virtually.
“We’ve been running virtual programs online for our members since April, and we continue to increase the number of programs, especially for those who are not ready to come back to the Y,” Hollins said. “We’ve been in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control, ensuring our facilities follow social distancing. Our team works hard to clean each piece of equipment after use. We take temperature checks for members when they arrive, and we have implemented many advanced protocols so everyone in our building feels safe.”
Hollins is well positioned to take over the top management spot at the Lake Houston Y. She is pursuing a degree in leadership and ministry at Grace Christian University with the goal of earning a master’s degree in organizational leadership.
Hollins is mom to two children, a boy and a girl. She has worked in the health and wellness industry for almost 20 years, starting out as a salsa teacher, working the information desk, then moving on to marketing, sales and, finally, management. She replaces Chris Butsch who now will oversee administration of the Y’s north clubs.
“Chris pushes me to be excellent every day, and I am grateful to be in the Y under his leadership,” she said. In addition to Butsch, Hollins credits Liz Townsend, a business partner with TexansFit fitness studios, for inspiring Hollins to go beyond her potential and for giving her the tools to be successful and become a leader.
Those tools are valuable to Hollins as Lake Houston Y’s new operations director. She admits it is not easy to lead in times of uncertainty.
“Lake Houston has weathered many storms and we are fighters,” she said. “We find a way to win even in the most uncertain of times. What never changes is our ability to persevere as a team.”
Crisis reveals character, Hollins says, banking on the character of the people – staff and members – who surround her.
“We have just launched our youth fall league and we expect a nice turnout as we get back to the new normal. The fields finally will have our little ones back on them – and that is a win. We also will continue with our large fall fundraiser, ‘Dancing for a Cause’ that will go virtual this fall,” she said. “Our fundraising will move our mission forward.”
West Nile Virus could not keep Hollins down and neither can COVID-19.
“Times look different but each day we get further along,” she said. “Our members mean so much to us. One day, when we can safely do so, we’ll be able to finally show our members our smiles again and hug them as they come through our doors.”
Take a tour of the refurbished Lake Houston Family YMCA, call 281-360-2500 or visit ymcahouston.org/locations/lake-houston-family-ymca or facebook.com/lakehoustonymca.