ALBANY, Ga. -- After 25 years of working for the organization, Albany Area YMCA Business Director Althea Noble will retire leaving behind a legacy of commitment and service.
Albany Area YMCA Executive Director Dave Wallace said Noble's work has made a tremendous impact for the entire organization.
"I don't think a lot of people understand really the difference she has made for the Y," he said of Noble. "She has always insisted that we be good stewards to the community."
Noble, 75, began working a the YMCA part time during the organization's 1985 capital campaign.
"I had never been in a YMCA before then," said Noble. "They were seeking help during the capital campaign and I applied."
The business director said a friend that worked at the YMCA convinced her to apply for the position, which was only supposed to be for a few months.
"I had promised my husband at the end of four months it would be over, but then they asked me to work full time and that I could set my own hours, so I agreed," said Noble.
Within weeks of starting work at the YMCA, she began to realize the mission of the organization and the impact it had on members and the community.
"People were in need of our services and the children were one of the things that captured my heart. It is a good, safe place where people can go," she said.
Over the years, Noble has worked with four executive directors, countless staff members, contributed to capital campaigns and endured facility expansions and additions.
Noble said when she came to work at the YMCA, the organization was transitioning into a new computer system.
"I've seen a lot of changes. When I got here, the books were kept manually so when when we transitioned over, I was the one that entered most of the data for membership," she said
Wallace said Noble's business acumen has helped the organization provide the best possible service to the community.
"She knows how to turn a dollar about 15 different ways," he said. "Her integrity is above reproach. She was instrumental in creating procedures that hold up the integrity of the organization."
Noble said she recalls the need for tighter bookkeeping.
"I wasn't very popular then," she quipped. "I had to be kind of tough in the beginning"
Wallace said Noble has been courageous in her efforts and has a way of speaking her mind without insulting -- something the executive director noticed in their first conversation.
"I just thought there was this matter-of-fact and to-the-point way about her that was also very compassionate. She has a way with people even when she is telling them something that they might not want to hear. Just walking down the hall, the lady exudes class," he said.
Noble's compassion for her YMCA family has been shown throughout her time at the organization. She is known by staff to always be a source of wisdom, comfort and a friendly ear to both professional and personal problems.
"She has been known to help staff balance their checkbooks and often counseled the staff in a sort of motherly way," said Wallace. "There is always that sense of comfort that anything you share with her will be held in confidence."
"If an employee is going through a tough time and all they can think about is how they are going to handle that problem, then how are they expected to do work when they are troubled like that," said Noble.
Noble said it was always very important to her that she take the time to enjoy the work she was helping to do within the community.
"I tell the staff that we have to look up from the numbers sometimes and see the good things we are trying to accomplish. Every one of the numbers is a face and a story," she said. "It's satisfying to see the result of what you do."
And Noble has done a lot, Wallace said.
"It has not been a job where she has phoned it in," he said of Noble's work. "She has endured a lot of hardship in her life and she came here and embraced the work and took on a lot."
Noble said working with the YMCA has been her life in the nine years since her husband passed.
"It's been more rewarding for me. I think I got a lot out of it, this has been more than a paycheck for me," she said.
Noble said her retirement will most likely not be a boring one.
"I'll have to find something to do, it will probably be a lot of volunteer work. It's kind of scary, not from a financial standpoint, but what do I have to look forward to now?"
Noble said she will miss her time at the YMCA but will probably visit often.
"I think they will probably soon get tired of seeing me as a member," she joked.
The business director's last day at the YMCA will be March 31.