Albany YMCA Employee Celebrates 40 Years - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany YMCA Employee Celebrates 40 Years

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By Jay Polk - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – How do you like your job? Do you like it enough to stay there for your entire career? One employee of the Albany YMCA has done just that, and he has no plans to retire anytime soon.

The YMCA is a place to walk off a few pounds, swim a few laps or shoot some hoops.

But in order to do any of those things, you need to have something to dry off with. And when you need a towel, you need to see one man: Jimmy Shemwell.

So it was no surprise that when we found Shemwell, he was folding towels. Over the years, he's had plenty of practice.

Dave Wallace, the Executive Director of the Albany YMCA said that, "we've determined - using some basic Math - that over the course of the last 40 years, that Jimmy has laundered and folded a million towels."

He's so well known for his towel work, that when they celebrated his anniversary, the gift they presented to him was - naturally - an embroidered towel. And all of those towels being folded over the years has led to another pretty amazing statistic.

The height of a folded towel is about 2 inches. Now if you add up the height of all the towels that jimmy has folded over the years, you come up with a distance of 31 and a half miles. Lay that down, and that's the distance between Albany and Camilla. But the services that Jimmy gives to this YMCA are about more than just towels.

You can get a workout without even using the cardio machines by just following him around while he performs his duties for the day. Members rely on him to make sure that everything is straight in their lockers.

Ernie Smith, an Albany YMCA member since 1979 said, "I know where my clothes are hung. Everything is done just right, all the time."

And he's just as well known for his relations with the members throughout the YMCA.

"He's been a great friend and a loyal guy the whole time," said Smith.

For Shemwell, this job is the only one that he's ever known.

"I was 18, right out of high school," he said.

While it seems like a long time to stay in one job, he says that he's never had any doubt about where he wanted to be. He has one goal each time that he comes to work.

Shemwell said, "making sure the members are happy, that they enjoy it and that they want to come back every day. That's my main thing, I like to treat them like I like to be treated."

And while towels would normally be something that you discard after using, members at this YMCA feel that Shemwell is an indispensable part of their family.

Jim Moore, an Albany YMCA member since 1981 said, "the Y wouldn't be the same without Jimmy Shemwell."

And no doubt the next generation will be saying the same thing to him in another 10 years. 

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