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PAWTUCKET, R.I. (April 6, 2020) — While the building may be closed, the YMCA of Pawtucket is still serving the community, moving many of its health and wellness classes online and providing essential services to members as they go through the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Today, our community is going through unprecedented challenges. Though our doors may be closed, we are still working to meet the needs of our friends and neighbors in these uncertain times. That’s why we’re asking our members and the community to stay with us,” said Charlie Clifford, CEO of the YMCA of Pawtucket.
Prior to the closure of its facilities, the Y had been providing lunches and dinners to children throughout the community. Now it has partnered with the Rhode Island Community Food Bank to provide boxes of non-perishable meals to local families for pickup. It is also distributing grab-and-go meals using Y buses, reaching a total of about 200 families — a number that is steadily increasing as new families in need are identified.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one in seven children in the United States is fighting hunger. Because of school closures related to COVID-19, these kids are even more at risk of food insecurity.
“The Y has always been about serving community needs,” said Jeanine Achin, Chief Operating Officer of the YMCA of Pawtucket. “With this, we had to quickly assess what the new needs were. We have been able to provide many of the same services, we were providing in the building, now outside of the building.”
Through a partnership with Hasbro, the Y will also be distributing 700 educational games along with the meals to local children the second week of April. This ensures that families in low-income areas have games and healthy diversions while home from school.
The YMCA of Pawtucket consists of five branches: Pawtucket Family YMCA in Pawtucket, the Heritage Park YMCA Early Learning Center in Pawtucket, MacColl YMCA in Lincoln, the Westwood YMCA in Coventry, and Woonsocket YMCA. It has a total of 12,000 individual members and 6,000 families.
The Y is also creating pathways to continue to engage our senior population. Our seniors, many of whom live alone, are feeling isolated and vulnerable right now, and we are committed to helping them feel connected during this scary time.
Staff members have been checking in with seniors regularly to make sure they are safe. They have also been delivering food, personal necessities, and anything else that they might need. In order to keep seniors connected with each other and staff the YMCA has also been hosting virtual meetings on Zoom.
“Our staff truly cares so deeply about the community and our members that they were amazing in reaching out immediately,” Achin said.
In order to help families navigate these difficult times and ensure they have access to everything the Y has to offer, the Y has launched a helpful webpage, “Your Y at Home,” which can be accessed from the website, ymcapawtucket.org. The homepage also includes links to the Y’s YouTube channel where seniors and other members can continue to access the classes they were taking in person at the Y in the comfort of their own home.
This work is essential to the community, and the Y is in a unique position to provide these services. However, they cannot continue this critical mission without support. The Y is asking members to stay with Y to ensure these vital services can continue. While the doors are closed, membership dollars will now help continue this important work. For anyone who is not a Y member, please consider joining or donating today to help support the Y’s efforts.
About the YMCA
The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 22 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. The YMCA of Pawtucket is comprised of five branches across the state: Pawtucket Family YMCA and Heritage Park YMCA Early Learning Center in Pawtucket, MacColl YMCA in Lincoln, Westwood YMCA in Coventry and Woonsocket YMCA.