The Y continued to serve Shelby County even during pandemic



SIDNEY — Despite the hardships that 2020 brought, the Y was among a number of organizations that stepped up to help out families and the surrounding communities during these challenging times.

“The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in many families being left without the built-in child care services provided by the public school system. In response to this unique situation, the YMCA quickly transitioned to a Pandemic Child Care for families of medical personnel, essential employees, and first responders,” said David O’Leary, the YMCA’s bew CEO. “We implemented all required CDC and Health Department Guidelines in order to provide a safe environment for the children, staff, and parents. We had record attendance in our summer day camp for school-age students despite the unusual schedule created due to the ongoing pandemic.”

His report continues:

In addition to our Pandemic Child Care, the YMCA build a Virtual YMCA and offered our group exercise classes not only to our members, but non-members in the community at no cost. Our mission is to strengthen our community and even though our doors where closed our mission remained to keep the community active, healthy, and engaged. Our very own instructors live-streamed from their homes, offering up to 10 classes a week including Dance Blast, Cardio Drumming, Pilates, Boot Camp, Yoga and more. Our virtual programs even extended to serve youth in the community. Our Kinetics gym offered virtual gymnastics classes and volunteer coach Jamal Foster and his son hosted a basketball skills and drills hosted live on Facebook by. The Y’s Annual Safety Around Water Week remained a priority for our Y and was reinvented to continue virtually through lessons via video each day. The event helped fill the gap in swimming education due to the shutdown in the spring. We were thrilled to re-open our facilities in May welcoming back our members and the community. In preparation for reopening, the Y worked with the local health experts and officials to ensure that everyone who entered our doors were safe. In addition to implementing temperature checks, hand sanitizer stations, masks for staff, and social distancing, the Y increased cleaning schedules of all areas. Thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation of Shelby County, the Y purchased electrostatic sprayers which are highly effective at covering surfaces evenly with a non-toxic, low odor solution to clean and disinfect our facility.

Slowly our Y re-introduced in person classes in group exercise, youth classes, and aquatics. With limited class sizes to allow for social distancing and by following the Health Department guidelines our members are able to connect once again!

Our Y swim team the Sidney Stingrays started back up however all swim meets have been in a virtual format. Each team competing in the meet swims the same order of events at their own pool. The meet still must follow YMCA Competitive Swimming Rules regarding timing and officials. After swimming their events, each team sends a complete meet file to the host team who merges the results to determine final placement/winners.

Even Y-FEST had to go virtual in 2020. Thanks to 2020’s sponsors, led by Emerson and Wilson Health, all Y-Fest funds raised were used as part of our Community Partners commitment to providing assistance for all individuals or families in need. In total, thanks to our many caring donors, over 2,000 individuals and families were provided life changing and transformational programs throughout the year.

Thanks to generous donors from Giving Tuesday and the Community Foundation’s Match Day, the Child Development Center installed a new security entrance system to keep the children in their care even more safe. This system provides greater control over who can enter the facility and staff can turn access on or off immediately on an as-needed basis.

In our never ending quest to add more value to the benefits our members, December brought about an opportunity to offer 24-Hour Access to members when the Y is closed or not staffed. This benefit came at the request of members, and did not raise the monthly fee. In addition to all the workout equipment available in the fitness center, 24-hour access also allows members to use the Schauer Gymnasium for things like basketball, indoor soccer, and pickleball as well as access to the racquetball court. The end of 2020 also brought about a change in leadership. After over 35 years with the YMCA (15 at our Y), CEO Ed Thomas retired. David O’Leary was hired as the new CEO effective Jan. 1, 2021.