YMCAs call on state government for funding support

  • A counselor reads to a group of 3-5-year-olds in Camp Koala on July 14, 2020 at Hampshire Regional YMCA. In-person activities resumed after being closed in March due to the pandemic. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • Bre Allore reads to a group of 3-5-year-olds in Camp Koala, July 14, 2020 at Hampshire Regional YMCA. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 10/15/2020 2:51:02 PM

YMCAs have played an integral part in assisting communities throughout the coronavirus pandemic. YMCAs throughout the state and locally in Hamden and Hampshire County are in need of assistance from the state and federal government to help us continue providing support to our communities.

When the pandemic began, our YMCAs saw a rapid increase in need from our communities. We delivered meals and opened emergency child care centers to meet that need. This summer our local Ys collectively served 586 children in our summer camps (Northampton: 186, Holyoke: 100, Springfield: 200, Westfield: 200). This was a challenging summer, but despite COVID-19, we were able to provide a safe and healthy place for children.

As school began, each of our YMCAs reopened to provide remote learning centers for children, enabling parents to go to work. By providing these spaces for our families, we are meeting a new, crucial community need. These services take more funding than they have in the past. The increase in cost for PPE, cleaning supplies, new space and retaining staff is challenging. Our YMCAs call on the state government to support the YMCAs $1.8 Million “Youth-at-Risk” line item. A sum that we typically match 12:1. We also call on the state government and federal government to find more funds to support the remote learning centers of Massachusetts.

Parents did not budget for the costs of these centers, and centers cannot reduce their costs to operate these programs. We need an allocation of state funding to be able to reduce this cost for parents and to help us provide professional staff for these essential jobs. The YMCA is a community anchor. We are proud to have stepped forward to serve our neighbors during this time of need and will continue to do so as long as that need remains. We appreciate your belief in our collective mission.

Andrea Allard CEO YMCA of Greater Westfield

Julie Bianco CEO Hampshire Regional YMCA

Dexter Johnson CEO YMCA of Greater Springfield

Kathy Viens CEO Holyoke YMCA

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