by Mark Van Streefkerk
For most of its members, returning to the YMCA means adapting to a new normal of gym life during a pandemic. Members can now sign up in advance to reserve 45-minute time slots for workouts, including swim sessions. Temperature checks, face masks, and adherence to other safety protocols are all required. Nearly all YMCAs in King County, including South King County’s Meredith Mathews, Matt Griffin, and Kent locations, reopened for member use on Aug. 19, in accordance with Governor Inslee’s fitness guidance for Phases 2 and 3. Adapting to a new normal of pandemic-adapted fitness, however, is just the tip of the iceberg for the nonprofit’s community outreach.
“Although we stopped serving members in our facility [in March], we never really closed our doors,” said Alonda Williams, senior vice president and chief experience officer for the YMCA of Greater Seattle. “Right away we focused on making sure that we were taking care of first responders by caring for their children. We did emergency child care right away [and] we continued our hunger programs … It was something that we were committed to from the very beginning.”
In mid-March, right as YMCAs across the county closed their gym facilities, the organization unified to meet crucial community needs. “We turned [our locations] into child care facilities,” Williams affirmed, noting that combined Y locations provided more than 17,000 hours of child care to first responders and over 300,000 meals to youth and families with the support of partners like Safeway and Microsoft. “Many of those kids would have been on free or reduced lunch, so without being in school [they] might not have otherwise had support,” she noted.Continue reading YMCA Introduces Workouts by Appointment and After-School Enrichment Programs ‘In A Box’