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After nearly dying in car wreck, Watkins finds her role at the YMCA a gift from God

Surrounded by the smiling faces of inquisitive three-year olds, Cindy Watkins looks right at home. Sitting in the corner of the brightly colored Sponge Bob room at the Greenville YMCA, Watkins surveys the tiny tots, who are busy coloring pretty pictures to take home to their parents, and talks about her mission at the Y, which she said was God sent.

"I worked in childcare when I was young and did factory work after that," said Watkins, who's lived in Greenville for 22 years. "But I was in a severe car wreck that fractured my neck, my pelvis and both my lungs collapsed. After I recovered God just led me in a different direction and I started working at the YMCA."

Watkins lost her mother and mother-in-law in the accident, which happened when the driver of the other vehicle involved in the collision fell asleep at the wheel and crossed the median of Interstate 65 near Fort Deposit.

Watkins, who is childcare director for the YMCA, said the Y's recent move from the Beeland Complex to its new home in the old Greenville Academy building has been quite a chore, but one that she's settled in to comfortably.

"It was a lot for me to swallow," said Watkins, who has been with the YMCA for six years. "It was the first time I've experienced setting up the rooms and making sure they had everything they were supposed to."

Watkins is in the process of earning her Childhood Development associate degree at Greenville's Lurleen B. Wallace Community College and received a full scholarship for the two-year degree from Teacher Education and Compensation Health (TEACH) Watkins has received 300 training hours so far and once she graduates has to have 24 training hours every year to keep her certification up plus she has to take a test from the Federal Government each year.

"Each teacher also has to keep up 12 training hours each year," Watkins said. "It's broken down in six different areas: child development, health safety and universal precautions, quality childcare and licensing, child care professional and the family, language development and positive guidance and discipline. We're all very well trained."

Watkins also said each worker has to go through a full background check including a fingerprint check to make sure they have a clean past.

Greenville YMCA Executive Director Amanda Phillips said Watkins is a God-send for the Y and the children who come to the center each day.

"It's a miracle she's even with us today," said Phillips, remembering Watkins' auto accident. "She does an excellent job for us and we're very blessed to have her here."