When Angelica Ortiz and her family, husband, Ulises Boyso, and two sons, Damien and Hector, aged 8 and 15 arrived in Tillamook in November of 2015, Angelica was immediately hit by depression.  She says, “What am I going to do? The weather, and I didn’t know anyone, and my English wasn’t very good, but I really like to be active and exercise.”  Michelle Jenck encouraged Angelica to come by the YMCA and try some classes, and the rest is now history.   Darcy Fugate and Galena Flores encouraged and helped Angelica.  “This is something really important for me to come to the Y, and the people here have been so helpful and encouraging,” said Angelica.  “This community at the Y made all the difference, the people ….it made me strong in so many ways and I realize that I am a capable person.”

Angelica started trying different classes, and then one day mentioned to Darcy, “I’d really like to learn to swim.”  Darcy replied, “I can help with that – let’s do it tomorrow.”

“I surprised myself,” said Angelica. “I was afraid even of shallow water, and now I’m in water over my head, diving in and climbing on the alligator.  I had a bad experience when I was little, and didn’t get back into the water and missed out on fun stuff.  Now, that I know I can swim, I know I can do anything else,” she said.  For a recent family vacation, Angelica insisted on going to Great Wolf Lodge to show off her newly acquired swimming skills.  “My eight-year-old son was so proud of his mom,” said Angelica. “He told me I get a prize for doing the starfish float.” 

Angelica hasn’t stopped there.  Again with encouragement and support from Fugate, Angelica is studying for her ACE personal training certification and teaching classes at the Y.  She translates the training into Spanish.  The most difficult part of stepping outside her comfort zone for Angelica was her insecurity about her English-speaking capabilities.  “When I’m teaching, some of the students want me to do the class in Spanish so they can practice their language skills, too,” said Angelica.  “I want to encourage people to challenge themselves, and step out of their day to day lives, and excuses like they don’t have time.”  Angelica’s bilingual skills are very welcome at the Y, helping the organization to improve its outreach to the Spanish-speaking community.

With all she’s accomplished, the YMCA asked Angelica to be the keynote speaker for the organization’s upcoming annual fundraising dinner and auction on September 30th.  When asked to speak, Angelica says she responded, “Oh sure, I’ll do a speech.  I’ve never spoken in public before, but if I can do this (swimming, teaching, and more) why not?  And this is something to challenge and help others.”

Already on Angelica’s “skill list” has been wildfire fighting. And with the West on fire, Angelica, already an inspiration, she took on yet another challenge and is currently on the frontlines of the wildfires burning in Oregon.  As Darcy Fugate said, “I’m so blessed to have Angelica as a friend, and I’m inspired by her more every day.”

During our interview, Angelica shared this with Darcy, “Oh by the way, I’m going back to college in the Fall to finish my business administration degree,” said Angelica.   “I’m an active person, and I know that to keep my spirits up, I have to keep moving forward.”  Added Darcy, “She is just amazing.”

For more information about the YMCA’s classes or the upcoming “Lasso the Moon, Shoot for the Stars” Dinner and Auction on September 30th, go to www.tillamookymca.org or visit the Y at 610 Stillwell Ave., Tillamook.

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