Local YMCA expanded services during pandemic, helping community rebound

Posted at 6:20 PM, Mar 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-02 11:09:35-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — As we reach one year since the pandemic began, News5 is looking into some of the local organizations that have helped our communities rebound ever since. Today, we're focusing on the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region.

The local YMCA has been helping people in El Paso County for about 140 years, but in the past year, the need for services have looked much different and grew because of the on-going pandemic.

"We serve the community. We're here for the community, by the community, and we continue to evolve," said Boyd Williams, president and CEO of the organization.

Williams says at the beginning of the pandemic, they expanded services for local children and their families.

"When the pandemic hit last March, we immediately reached out to some of the school districts and began offering child care," said Williams. "It was for their employees, emergency personnel, first responders, and military personnel that needed to get to work and for those that needed it the most."

While school districts pivoted to online learning, the YMCA launched the Adventure Academy Program. The program offered child care for more than 300 children, and helped them with online learning during the school day.

The YMCA also expanded services for seniors, some of the most vulnerable during the pandemic.

"We were partnering with the community to ensure they had meals, they had medicine, and often times they needed someone to talk to because they were lonely," said Williams.

Last year, the non-profit delivered more than 2,500 meals to seniors' homes and they made more than 13,000 check-in calls to senior citizens to make sure they were doing okay.

"The isolation that comes with this pandemic, is just devastating I think for some people," said Gwen Rose, a retired senior in the community. "I understand how it would be so gratifying to have people reach out during this time."

Rose says the YMCA recognized her and the community's needs during the pandemic. Last year, they launched more than 100 virtual classes and socially distanced in-person classes, like art and history and exercise. Rose takes several of the classes every week.

"It has helped to not only keep your mind active and body active, but to socialize with people who are delightful to be around," said Rose. "Any kind of contact is uplifting and really helps keep you alive and aware."

Rose says despite some of the challenges the organization faced within the past year, "I have found that any social need I have, is covered when I do the classes. This is just a wonderful way for seniors to feel like we're in the world still."

Last year, the YMCA also partnered with a handful of organizations like Care and Share Food Bank. More than 10,000 families received boxes of food thanks to the partnership.

As COVID-19 restrictions are beginning to ease, today, the YMCA began expanding the hours they're open.

The organization will continue to hold many of the online classes launched last year, with hopes they can bring back more in-person classes soon.

The YMCA receives grant funding, but most of their services are offered thanks to the help of donations and membership fees.