Life

YMCA gets creative to navigate virus

By AMBER GINTER

Southern Ohio Today

     At the Pike County YMCA, summer is a typical time for the bustle of camps, children’s programs, and community activities.

     Since COVID-19, however, “atypical habits” as Kim Conley, CEO/Executive Director, defines them, are more prevalent.

     The Pike County YMCA began having Food Bag Friday’s on April 3 to continue serving those in need by handing out weekend meals for families. Although the YMCA was closed on March 16 and would not fully reopen until June 8, Conley said staff have been busy trying to find creative ways to serve.

     “For 85 days, we were very uncertain about our future,” Conley said. “The effect on the YMCA as a structure wasn’t bad, but what makes the YMCA is our members.”

     With a concern for lacking socialization and healthy lifestyles, Conley and her team began developing a new management system.

     Since their reopening on June 8, the organization requires temperatures to be taken upon entry, provides masks for members who wish to wear one, and has rearranged exercise equipment for social distancing with appropriate entrances and exits. Beyond layout, design, and protocols, Conley has also adjusted programs.

     Although most events have been postponed, Conley was adamant that classes are available, but with limited occupancy and hours.

     “We are open Monday through Friday 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. And our classes are limited in space.”

     Regarding events, Conley clarifies, “Events that we would have had normally have been postponed, but we are hoping we will be able to have our fall soccer program, which involves 400-plus children.”

     Although fall is still a few months away, Conley is focused on implementing a creative approach, so those typical summer excursions will not be forfeited.

     “Besides general classes, we are offering 3v3 basketball on our outdoor court, an outdoor volleyball league, and in the fall, soccer and co-ed softball leagues, providing that further restrictions are not set forth,” Conley said.

     Conley emphasizes the YMCA is a place for everyone. Even amid a pandemic, she sid the YMCA is committed to making a YMCA membership available to every family, person, and budget.

     With a Personal Pricing Membership Program, Conley seeks to accommodate a higher number of individuals and families’ financial situations by using income level to determine membership rates.

     “Pike County YMCA has always been more than a building. We are about people – people from all backgrounds and walks of life who improve their lives, nurture their families, and strengthen their community,” she said. “We are so incredibly grateful to the people who have stood by us throughout these challenging times. (They) were here for us when we needed it the most, and we remain here for (them).”

     Through funding, grants, donations, memberships, and program revenue, the Pike County YMCA aims to reverse negative health statistics with an immediate focus on community programs to improve the chances of a better life.

     “By offering these creative approaches, we must focus on a county where one in three children live in poverty, and one in four adults are forced into poverty,” Conley said. “Our ability to provide programs needed to improve our residents’ health and wellness, while providing the youth of our community with a chance at success in school and life, is directly proportional to the success of securing the financial support needed in an economically depressed area of Appalachia.”

     For more information on how to get involved with Pike County’s YMCA programs, call (740) 947-8862 or visit the Pike County YMCA Facebook page.

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