COVID-19 and Your YMCA
The Y has not been immune from this virus. It shook us to our core.
Just as our new facility in Burlington was reaching its potential for financial security and expanded community service, the global pandemic hit. Revenue all but stopped. Those we serve were hurting and we could not ask that they pay for services they were not receiving. We halted membership fees and we stopped charging for child care at our closed centers. Additionally, Camp Abnaki closed for the summer of 2020 for the first time in its 120-year history.
Once considered an economic engine for the Y, our membership rolls dropped by over 40% and struggles to rebound. Other programs were put on hold. Our recovery has been slow and a path forward is just now starting to come into focus.
Shaken to our core? Yes. Defeated, NO!
The Y Response
At our core is the heart, passion, and commitment of our staff, members and families, and a supportive community. That heart is strong and guided by the Y core values of Caring, Honesty, Respect & Responsibility. It was these values that motivated our actions in the opening weeks and months of the pandemic and that guide us now.
Here is how the Greater Burlington YMCA responded to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Dedicated Y staff showed up every day, without interruption, to care for the children of UVM Medical Center staff and other essential workers at special sites.
- Early child care and school-age staff at closed sites provided a library of resources to children and families and maintained connection and community.
- In those early months, our swim team enjoyed virtual workouts and even a few cooking classes!
- Y group exercise instructors moved several classes online so we could help people stay active and healthy while at home.
- As noted above, we put Y members and families first by suspending fees for 2½ months.
- We identified and shared helpful resources, including educational and fun activities for families, additional online workouts, COVID-19 information, and tips for stress reduction.
- Hours of work to identify the way to safely reopen our programs and facility—including much need early child care—once given the go ahead by the Governor, which occurred in early June of 2020.
While the Y scrambled to serve the community however we could, we also rigorously reduced our expenses and sough new avenues of support for our mission:
- We sought and received Federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding to support our staff.
- We have pursued available State grant funds extended to child care and summer camps to help offset lost revenue and the added expense of operating in the time of COVID.
- Despite the availability of short-term PPP funds, longer-term realities required some furloughs, with even more difficult staffing decisions possible.
- Budgets were cut to reflect realities and necessary belt-tightening.
The actions taken have helped, but knowing that additional support would be needed, the community has stepped forward. We created the Y STRONG FUND and have been heartened and appreciative of the response. From members and child care families who donated fees during the months we did not charge, to local foundations, new and long-time donors, and others, we have felt the community’s embrace.
The challenge is still with us, but so is our commitment to ensure our Y supports the community . . . just like it has for more than 150 years.