YMCA closures have led to disastrous financial shortcomings for one of the world’s largest … [+]
Amidst the continuing coronavirus pandemic, emergency operations are the top priority for The Y from coast to coast — but they are coming at a huge cost.
In a video titled ‘Stay With Us!,’ posted to its YouTube channel, the organization explains some of the different approaches being taken in different cities:
“Right now, Ys across the country are providing emergency child care for health care workers and first responders. Food for children without access to school meals. Shelter for at-risk populations. And outreach to seniors who face social isolation.”
But while invaluable to the populations that they serve, these emergency pivots are coming at a devastating price to The Y. The Greater Philadelphia YMCA laid off 4,000 workers, including 700 full-time positions — leaving just 61 employees between the organization’s 16 branches and 12 learning centers. In Columbus, Ohio, the local YMCA laid off 85% of its workforce, including 332 full-time employees. YMCA locations in Wisconsin are weathering a mass layoff notice of 660 “low-hour” workers and 40-full time employees.
Cumulative figures were not immediately available, but with the suspension of membership fees, a senior YMCA official estimated most clubs seeing layoffs and furloughs between 75% and 95% of total staff.
“When this crisis is over, The Y will be there to help our communities recover,” the video voiceover explains. “But we can’t do it alone.”
In Illinois, The Y is converting some of its locations to emergency shelters, to help house more than 400 displaced individuals.
“The Y is known for its dependability in times of crisis and we take our responsibility to the community very seriously,” Richard Malone, President and CEO of the YMCA of Metro Chicago, told The Northwest Herald. “We’ve all heard repeatedly from health experts that social distancing is key to combating this crisis and, in order for it to work, we need to leave no stone unturned. Every pocket of society needs to be practicing social distancing and the Y is helping to ensure this.”
The YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo (Mich.) is one of many Ys around the country providing additional meals and snacks — increasing its output from 300 to 1,000 per day.
“While we will receive some reimbursement through the state, that is the least of our concerns,” Ben Davis, the organization’s Chief Advancement Officer told Second Wave Southwest Michigan. “Our goal and that of the Sherman Lake YMCA is to make sure our families survive this crisis. And it starts with making sure children and families don’t go hungry.”
And in western North Carolina, the Y has built out a ‘Virtual YMCA’ exercise approach to help keep its members healthy at home.
“We are in this for the long haul, and we need resources to address long-term community and member needs,” Paul Vest, president and CEO of the YMCA of Western North Carolina, told Mountain XPress. “Together we can meet this challenge and continue to deliver hope for all.”