The Hopkins County YMCA has had its share of difficulty during the COVID-19 pandemic yet doubled down on its promise to serve anyone regardless of inability to pay. Even in the face of multiple 6 figure financial losses due to COVID-19. The Y stepped into the virtual school world and purchased 30 chromebooks to ensure children could work on their school work, join live sessions and communicate with teachers while in the care of the Y. Because of the large amount of devices needing wifi capacity the Y had to expand its wifi services.
The pandemic attacked the personal health and well-being of many Hopkins County residents but the silent attack came in the form of failing mental health. Y professionals began to realize that while this pandemic has hurt adults mentally, it has taken a toll on our youth. The stress of the pandemic showed its face in children in different ways. The YMCA took the initiative and had 27 YMCA Youth Leaders certified in Youth Mental Health First Aid. While Y Leaders are not mental health professionals, this training gave staff tips, tricks and much more to be able to recognize a mental health crisis in children before something happens.
With the help of our partners at the Hopkins County School System, the YMCA broke food program records! We are so proud to say we prepared and distributed OVER 140,000 meals to children in the community! The pandemic led to creativity…in the near future you will see a “snack shack” and a new outdoor basketball court near our soccer fields. We will be able to feed all children in youth sports. Additionally, by having the snack shack outside it will seem more inclusive to those who use public transportation to get to the Y exclusively for food.
The Hopkins County YMCA is local…but has state and national reach. Because of partnerships the Hopkins County YMCA was able to partner with the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association and pay for 4 local highschool students to attend the virtual Changemaker Institute in the summer of 2020. The YMCA plans a large expansion of teen services that will include a YMCA Youth Board of Directors and opportunities for local teens to participate in the Blue Ridge Leaders School in North Carolina.
YMCA staff have not been void of the COVID-19 risk. Our staff have doubled down on safety and cleanliness protocols. Proudly, there have been no known COVID-19 outbreaks due to the YMCA. All cases have originated from community spread. I truly have to thank our staff and front line workers for their diligent cleaning efforts as well as consistent wearing of masks.
As vaccines are rolled out through the county the Y will slowly bring back more and more regular programming as we see responsibly possible. We know that our Youth and Adult members need social interaction. We want to provide that! However, we must do so with the safety of the community and the stress of our hospital workers in mind.