Our program featured David Fagerstrom, President and CEO of the Greater Valley YMCA. The GVYMCA encompasses 6 locations in the area including Easton, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Catasauqua, Allentown, and Pen Argyl.
The pandemic forced the organization to close large portions of their operations, but the Y did not shut down. The focus shifted outward to the community. Member fees were waived during the closure. The Y provided over 90,000 free meals and snacks for kids, adults, and seniors from March to September, often partnering with other organizations to increase their reach. They provided over 7,200 hours of childcare to first responders and medical personnel through their Here For You program.
They produced over 200 preschool educational videos that garnered over 4,200 viewings on YouTube. Studies show that children with access to preschool are 70 times more likely to graduate from high school. Dedicated classrooms were created that allowed over 400 children to attend virtual schooling through the Edu-Child program. A virtual workout program attracted over 350 members, and helped senior members stay active.
The Allentown Y operated a Code Blue shelter providing 35 beds as well as dinner meals and showers for people experiencing homelessness. The affordable housing program in Bethlehem provided health and safety checks. The Y spent $20,000 to improve their Wi-Fi access so that students involved in hybrid learning would have a safe place to do their homework.
The future remains bright. Community support has increased. Membership is starting to increase, and childcare is back up to 50%. The summer camp registrations are at an all-time high. The YMCA is not just a gym and swim operation. Their mission to serve people remains unchanged. Families that use the Y pay only what they can afford. No one is turned away due to the inability to pay. The YMCA invested $1 million in such scholarships in 2019 and $500,000 in 2020. David anticipates two more years to what might be termed a full recovery. There is no doubt the YMCA will remain a vital, integral component of our community today, tomorrow, together.