SIDNEY — Rotarian Ed Thomas, who is the CEO of the Sidney Shelby County YMCA, addressed his fellow club members during the Jan. 23 meeting of the Sidney Rotary club.
Thomas discussed what it meant for the Y to be a cause-driven organization. It currently servs 4,964 members and anticipates being over 5,000 members by the end of the month.
As part of the Y’s mission last year, it provided 1,063 families and individuals with financial assistance equaling more than $240,000. Thomas said they are very grateful to all who helped make this possible by supporting their annual Community Partners Campaign.
They are kicking off the 2017 Community Partners Campaign, Feb. 16.
Thomas discussed the Child Development Program. Currently the program serves 198 children, the most ever. Most of the kids are dropped off at 5 a.m. and stay in the Y’s care until 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Of those nearly 200 children, half of them receive some form of financial assistance, which provides them with hot nutritious meals, daily curriculum that helps them become school-ready and loving care by nurturing staff who work very hard at providing a positive and safe environment. For the parents, many of whom are considered single-parent families, it provides them with a place they can rely on, which in turn allows them to be able to work and better provide for their families. The United Way of Shelby County has been a faithful and significant supporter of their Child Development Program, Thomas said. Their support of this program has led to its success.
The Y is now offering a Parkinson’s program. It is open to anyone from the community at no cost and Y membership is not required. Thomas said the Community Foundation helped with some of the funding to make this possible. Thomas also recognized Mark Dooley and Wilson Health for being a partner of the Y. Through their combined efforts, they are offering three classes a day, four times a week.
The program has been a huge success, Thomas said. It averages 10-12 participants per class along with their care partners. They have individuals involved who are in their 40s to their 90s. In the short time the Y has been offering this program, they have seen some remarkable progress with many of the participants.
New interactive equipment has been added to the youth center. This significant investment has been made because two of every three kids in the community are considered inactive and 68 percent of Americans are considered overweight or obese. In addition, 68 percent of American households play video games. So, that means obesity and video games are equally prevalent in our society. It is an interesting but troubling connection, Thomas said. For that reason, the Y has invested in games that require kids to move in order to play them. They are designed for adults to enjoy and benefit from, as well.
A professional, certified athletic trainer has been added to the Y, thanks to a partnership with Wilson Health.