30 Minutes With . . . is a weekly feature looking at life in Christchurch as the rebuild progresses. This week, Cecile Meier spends 30 minutes with Josie Ogden Schroeder.
Occupation: CEO of the YMCA
Lives in: Cashmere
Lived in Christchurch: 23 years
Where: Harry Ell walkway
It is only six degrees when I meet Josie Ogden Schroeder at the Sign of the Kiwi, but the sky is clear and the sun rises. It rained the days before so we walk into muddy puddles on the Harry Ell walkway.
Schroeder heads the Christchurch's YMCA and has three children but still manages to come here about three times a week for a run.
We walk briskly to warm up as she tells me about herself.
"I was born in Australia and grew up in Auckland - that's the worst thing you can say in Christchurch."
She moved to Christchurch in 1991 to study and never went back.
Schroeder became the CEO of the YMCA six years ago and says managing 200 staff and five venues suits her need for a challenge. But what gets her out of bed in the morning is the underlying goal of the YMCA. "The bottom line for the YMCA is to do something which helps the community. I am interested in making a better life for the next generation."
The YMCA is not just another business. It is a place for parents to send their kids on holiday, for families to keep active and fit, and for social support.
Schroeder stops to look at the city beneath us. She says coming up here has been a lifesaver while dealing with multiple insurance claims.
"At one stage I had 39 active insurance claims on the go at the YMCA," she says.
All five sites were damaged.
And there has been no respite at home - Schroeder is still waiting to know whether her house will be repaired or rebuilt. "I'm so sick of coming back to this house that's falling down around us."
She says it is challenging at times to keep exercising, but worth the effort.
"It's one of the things that's so important since the quakes. The ones that keep doing their exercise and keep having their time out are coping a lot better."
On top of running several times a week, Schroeder recently took up ballet. "It's called a midlife crisis. Most people buy a porsche or something, but I started doing ballet with a bunch of 16-year-old girls. It's great fun."
- The Press
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