Our speaker was Abril Hammerstone who serves as the Wellness Coordinator for the Family YMCA of Easton and Phillipsburg. She provided an overview of the incredible Pop-Up & Play Program that the Y runs in our community. The program partners with many community organizations including Easton Rotary, GEDP, United Way AmeriCorps VISTAS, and the Kellyn Foundation. It ran from June through August and provided over 200 hours of fun for children ranging in age from 2 to 18.
The program “popped up” at various locations including Dutchtown Park, Vanderveer Park, the Easton Neighborhood Center, Cheston and Paxinosa Elementary Schools, and the Easton Community Garden. Each stop featured games and activities including artwork, nutrition, and reading. Participants received free meals and snacks, often featuring locally sourced produce. They use environmentally-friendly compostable meal packaging and were nominated for a USDA “Turnip the Beet” high-quality summer meals award. In all they served 10,150 meals including 1,290 for adults. Over 200 individual youth participated, 5 of whom qualified for a free week of Y Summer Day Camp. 20+ families received vouchers for a “Full Cart Virtual Food Pantry” pilot program.
Part of the funding for the program came from a $5,000 Rotary grant. $2,500 came directly from our Easton Rotary Foundation. Rotary District 7430 provided the other half from money we received as our share of our contributions to the Foundation of Rotary International. The outreach component of the programming at the Family continues to expand and is becoming a tremendous positive force in our community.