Lauren Filippi, a tutor in the after-school program at the YMCA, knows she can always trust Curtis Hill. Hill is a porter at the West 63rd Street facility, and part of his job is cleaning the room before the students come in at 6 p.m. every weekday. "It's always been important to Curtis that they have a nice experience when they come to the after-school program," Filippi said. "He is someone who really cares about his work."
Curtis Hill got his foot in the door at the West Side YMCA after completing a free teen program there for homework assistance and facility use. Photo By: Andrew Schwartz
Filippi has known Hill for two years and has come to rely on his willingness to maintain a proper learning environment. "He helps me out when I need something done," she said. "He's always taken a special interest in doing a nice job because they're kids, and it's where they do their homework." Hill, 26, was born and raised in "Harlem USA," as he calls it. He completed a free teen program for homework assistance and facility use at the YMCA in 2000 and made an impression on the staff. Hill started working at the facility more than six years ago, when he applied to become a porter, the highest position in his department. "Everyone got along with me well," Hill said. "After I graduated from high school, I applied for a job there. It was easy because I already had my foot in the door." Though Hill can be a porter in most facilities in the city, he loves that each day at the YMCA is different than the last. "You got the residents, new members, guests from all over the globe. It's like a hotel facility," Hill said, "So you see a lot of new things every day." Hill's willingness to assist others extends beyond co-workers, as he often helps new guests, community residents and parents of children attending programs and classes. "Even the parents get lost," Hill said. "It's a big building. I help them." Hill's supervisor is Kisha James, the interim director of building and properties. A porter's job, she explained, is to do a little bit of everything around the facility, and Hill has become a jack of all trades. He started out part-time as a porter and moved to maintenance engineering before returning to his porter position. "That's where he felt more comfortable, because he got to work with kids," James said. "It's what he truly loved." His engineering training, James said, makes him a valuable staffer at the YMCA because he can strip wax floors and change fixtures. "Curtis is one of those employees who always goes over the top," James said. "He'll work overtime if needed. He works seven days a week if needed. Never says 'no' and gets the job done." And Hill is happy with his current post. His only immediate plans for the future include a vacation in the Bahamas, away from the cold weather, the blaring sirens of police cruisers and "all that New York stuff." Besides, he enjoys one of the best perks of working at the YMCA: a free membership.