The COVID-19 pandemic is without precedent in the modern age. The lives of British Columbians’ changed dramatically in a very short period of time, and we are facing a world that is different from the one we have been so accustomed to.
Before the pandemic, our communities were already experiencing tremendous change and growth, resulting in mounting pressures on families, higher rates of chronic disease and increased feelings of isolation. COVID-19 has exacerbated these pressing issues, with youth aged 18 – 29 and families with children reporting an even greater burden on their mental health and economic situation than the general population in BC.
The Y is a centre of support
The needs of community, people and youth have become even more important and urgent. The YMCA believes in developing people and helping everyone reach their full potential, and our Y Centres of Community are that safe, clean, inclusive place enabling the YMCA to deliver urgently needed human-service programs. Now, nine months into COVID-19, we see YMCA Centres of Community living up to their name – they are centres facilitating and strengthening diverse, connected and resilient communities. They function as childcare centres for essential service workers, serve as calling offices to check in with our senior members, and offer the best backdrop for our online fitness content, keeping thousands of Canadians healthy, connected and engaged.
Keeping members safe and engaged
Most importantly, we maintain committed to listening to our members and opening when a large portion of our community is ready. We were able to open the Robert Lee YMCA in Vancouver on June 17, and the Tong Louie Family YMCA in Surrey on June 26. These centres are, once again, the safe space for people to get healthy, rebuild and make valuable connections – when they need it most. Members returned to new health and safety procedures, including modified programming, enhanced cleaning measures, member appointment bookings, physical distancing, hand sanitization stations and more.
“We look forward to opening the doors of our Chilliwack YMCA in the future. However, with the recent surge in Covid-19 numbers, we do not yet have a date determined,” shares Karen Price, General Manager of Chilliwack YMCA. “It’s important to know that we are taking care of your very valuable donor investment in order to be able to successfully welcome the community back when the time is right.” For now, the Chilliwack Y’s new spaces are being utilized as filming locations for ymcaathome.ca virtual fitness classes. These online classes are keeping local Y members as well as those across the Lower Mainland and Canada active and connected until we can be safely together again.
Member and staff feedback
“The Y’s cleaning and safety protocols are nothing short of brilliant,” says James Schaeffer, a long-time Robert Lee Y member. “And the staff are the best anywhere!” he enthuses. “It’s really great to make the Y my place of choice for socializing – athletically speaking. With COVID-19, I’m not doing restaurants, etc. right now, but I do the Y. The equipment on the fitness floor is well spaced out and members have picked up the cleanliness protocols more than I thought they ever would,” James states.
“It’s obvious to us how many people count on the Y to live a healthy life and stay connected to others in the community,” adds Liia Vuur, General Manager of the Robert Lee YMCA. “We really missed seeing the community members we know and love each and every day at the Y.” says David Woollven, General Manager of the Tong Louie Family YMCA.
We are grateful for all our generous What Really Matters donors and look forward to when we can re-open the doors to all our centres of community.