Y Stories: Finding Love at the Y
Congratulations to Safa Alzoubi and Amr Badawy on their recent engagement. We sat down and asked these two lovebirds about how they found each other at a local YMCA.
Y: What are your occupations?
Safa: I study at the University of Toronto, majoring in Marketing, Communications, and Professional Writing, and I work at the Mississauga YMCA as a group fitness and recreational instructor.
Amr: I study Aerospace Engineering at Ryerson University. I also work full time at a franchise of Paramount Fine Foods as one of the head managers, and I own a water filtration systems store.
Y: What are your roles at the Y?
S: I volunteered at the YMCA for several years before I got hired as an instructor in 2012. Today, the Y is still my second home. I have volunteered in many different departments at the Y.A: I volunteered at the pool, where I helped those with disabilities. I then took the next step and becoming a life guard, after finishing the required courses. Even now, Safa and I still take part in activities at the Y.
Y: How did you two meet?
S: Amr and I met at the Mississauga YMCA back in 2008, during the Triathlon, where we were competing against each other. At first we disliked each other, since we were competitors. However even then, Amr took every opportunity to speak with me, but I kept rejecting him; I did not want to get involved with him. This went on for several years. He continued to come to the YMCA and my high school to try to speak with me, but I wasn’t interested.
Five years later we bumped into one another in front of a restaurant. This time things were different. I saw him, but it wasn’t the version of him that I remembered. I ran and hugged him and he was shocked. How did this hate turn into love?
We exchanged numbers and decided to meet up again. I liked him; he was a good guy, and not the same person he was in high school. We began to meet and talk pretty often. I was afraid to introduce him to my family, but Amr gave me the courage and support to do it. He told me that he wanted to meet them to tell them that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. I spoke to my parents and they told me that it was too early for me to get married but agreed to meet him anyway.
Y: How long have you been together?
S: Amr and I have been together for two and a half years now and officially got engaged on May 30, 2015, when he proposed at the Y.
Y: What was the proposal like?
A: I was so nervous and afraid to mess up. I had been practicing for a month before the big day came. I’d like to thank Tala, Safa’s sister; Sahar, Safa’s mom, Marta, the acting GM and all her friends for helping me make my dream a reality. The Y allowed me to use the PA system to profess my love for Safa in front of everyone at the centre. As I spoke over the PA system, I was stuttering, nervous and scared, yet so happy. I prayed that she would be happy and say yes. After my speech I walked down the stairs and saw so many faces, and most importantly my princess. She ran and hugged me so tight and just cried. I got down on my knee and asked her to marry me. As tears were running down her face she said “YES!” Finally, I sighed in relief knowing that she would spend the rest of her life with me. I just knew she was the right girl for me and that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. Once I saw her smile, I knew everything would be okay. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.
S: The proposal was amazing, definitely the best thing that has ever happened to me. When Marta announced over the PA that she was going to help a gentleman’s dream become true, I thought “that’s so cute!” When Amr began to speak, I didn’t even realize it was him until he started to talk about how we met. I immediately fell to the ground – I couldn’t hold myself up. My heart was beating fast; I was sweating, and shaky. I had some help from my sister, Tala, to stand up and exit the dance studio. As soon as I stepped out, everyone was standing and applauding. Then I saw Amr, and I didn’t know what to do, so I just ran to him and hugged him and didn’t let go. When he got down on his knee, I could not hold back my tears. I was so happy. It was the best idea he’s ever come up with, to propose to me at my second home with my YMCA family. Everyone congratulated us and everyone was happy, which made me even happier; I was ecstatic. The proposal was a huge shock, a huge surprise, and just perfect.
Y: How has being with one another changed you?
S: I changed a lot after I met Amr and got to know him better. I feel like I have learned to take on more responsibility for myself and I’ve become a harder worker, just like him. When I started working at the YMCA, I learned about the responsibility of taking care of children within the program, but with Amr, it was a different type of responsibility. Every relationship has its ups and downs, but Amr taught me how to solve problems calmly, and to think about the pros and cons of the solution following the problem.
A: Safa changed my life drastically. She taught me to take care of myself in order for me to be strong enough to care for my family and her. I stopped coming to the YMCA for a long time, until I met Safa. She said, “If you work out, you will feel better about yourself.” I did not really give it much thought until she pushed me to work out. Since then, I lost a lot of weight, I look better, and feel better as well.
Y: How has the YMCA impacted your relationship?
S: The YMCA is the place we met, the place where we were each other’s competition, and the place where we built our relationship together with other members and staff.
Y: What sorts of activities do you like to do together?
S: Amr and I like to travel, and take risks. We love to explore and try new things, including new workouts. We often challenge each other on the treadmills at the YMCA to see who can burn more calories!
Y: How did the Y community react to your relationship?
S & A: Everyone at the Y has been so supportive and caring. The smiles on the members’ and staffs’ faces were priceless; their loud applause was amazing on the day of the proposal. The Y is a place where people grow and prosper; it’s a place of acceptance, and it helps build relationships.