It’s a community that’s been 132 years in the making—the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina. After decades of consistent service, the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina has become a trusted establishment and haven for many. Historically, it’s a place where members have gone to be nurtured—physically, mentally, and spiritually. But in 2020, the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina took things a step further—they stepped up to serve in a brand new way.
And now it’s 2021. And what can we expect in 2021? More of the same, dependable support that the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina is known for, and that they have demonstrated so well! The YMCA of Northwest North Carolina has proved to be an anchor in the storm for many who are experiencing deeply troubled waters, through e-learning, emergency services, and virtual programs. In addition, the Y’s staff has worked tirelessly to ensure the indoor wellness facilities are safe and clean for everyone.
Keeping Members and the Community Safe
The Y’s wellness facilities reopened in early September, after closing for nearly 6 months in compliance with executive orders across the state. During that time, the necessary work was done to make sure the Y would be a safe, clean place, not just for members, but the community as a whole.
“Two of our greatest commitments as a YMCA are to Healthy Living and Social Responsibility,” Stan Law, President and CEO of the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina, said. “Making sure our Ys are safe—not just to staff and members, but to their families, neighbors, and anyone else who they may interact with—is absolutely necessary during the ongoing pandemic. We owe it to everyone in our community to do our part.”
The Y has taken necessary precautions, such as spacing out fitness equipment to six feet or more, regularly deep- cleaning the facilities—down to the air filtration system —limiting capacity inside the building, and making sure participants in group-exercise classes are spaced safely apart.
With the shutdown of public schools, parents throughout the area, state, and country have been faced with monumental challenges. For those parents who have jobs that can be done from home, it may not be easy, but it’s do-able. For parents whose jobs require them to work away from home—it’s another matter. And then, some families don’t have regular access to a Wi-Fi connection. In order to meet the needs of these families, the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina’s Youth Development Team came up with a solution early on—E-Learning Academy.
The E-Learning Academy model opens the doors to students to give them the structure they need to succeed in academics during the time when the traditional classroom is not an option. Stan Law shared, “Parents have experienced tremendous challenges with the closure of our schools, not to mention the toll it’s taken on our students. For those essential and frontline workers, there was no option. Plan B simply didn’t exist. We are so proud of our Youth Development Team’s strategy to rise to the occasion.
“Through our E-Learning Academy program,” Law continued, “We are able to give kids a safe space to learn and the structure they need, while giving their parents peace of mind while they go about their jobs. Our team has worked hard to create a safe model, where kids receive adult supervision, tutoring, and help with their schoolwork, as well as healthy lunches and peer connections. We’re following all the state rules regarding masks, sanitation, and social distancing. And we have flexible options that can accommodate every individual family’s needs—whether their children need E-Learning Academy through the whole week or only a few days. All the student needs to do is bring their laptop and tools they may need for school. And bonus—when the kids are finished with their schoolwork, they can enjoy the benefits available at the YMCA, too.”
Michael Bragg, Communications Director for the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina, shared, “E-Learning Academy is a program that is available at all our YMCA of Northwest North Carolina locations, and the staff to student ratio is 1 to 10 at all locations. The program has been a huge success. Families who are interested in enrolling their children in E-Learning Academy can learn more at ymcanwnc.org/e-learningacademy. Pricing is based on both YMCA membership, as well as the family’s financial abilities—scholarships are available.
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“I know myself and other families are depending on the YMCA program as a resource to get through this school year. Thanks again for all you do.” ~ Christian C.
“You guys are making a huge difference in these kids’ lives (including ours), and we are so thankful for this opportunity.” ~ Daytra H.
“When the schools shut down last spring, I didn’t have the luxury of homeschooling my nine-year-old son, because my job requires me on site, and I can’t do my work from home. The YMCA of NWNC E-Learning program has been a lifesaver for our family. It’s so comforting to know that my son is in a safe environment, and moreover, an environment he enjoys. He has continued to flourish academically because of the program, so he hasn’t lost his classroom momentum. Because we have been with E-Learning since the beginning, we have seen how the YMCA has adapted and responded to the needs of the student. They’ve done an excellent job of being flexible, so that [after] the kids get their schoolwork done, they have some free time to be kids, and of course, they are great at communicating with the parents! I’m not sure where our family would be without the YMCA of NWNC’s E-Learning program! They quickly identified a solution for a problem no one saw coming!” ~ Stefanie J. (shown on cover with son Jasiah)
Bragg continued, “The YMCA of Northwest North Carolina has routinely offered emergency services to families for years. And during the pandemic, we pivoted and found ways to respond to the challenges of COVID. We worked through the chaos and uncertainties by providing emergency childcare services for essential and frontline workers,” Bragg explained.
“Additionally,” he continued, “We’ve partnered with many notable service organizations throughout the community for years, including the American Red Cross, Second Harvest Food Bank, and the United Way—to name a few. Some of the ways we’ve offered emergency services include meal distributions. At our Fulton and Winston Lake YMCA locations, between March and August, we (along with the Minister’s Conference of Winston-Salem & Vicinity and Second Harvest Food Bank) served 66,000+ to-go meals through a drive-through service. With so many out of work during that time, we were happy to work together in this community to make sure meals were provided to those who needed them.”
The Y recently received a grant to restart food access initiatives.
Law added, “We have also worked with the American Red Cross to host blood drives. Between November and March, we’ve collected 971 units of blood at 11 locations. That’s an ongoing effort that, to date, has saved 2,913+ lives.”
As part of their ongoing commitment to community, the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina also addressed the issue of isolation, especially with the elderly in our community. Law said, “We were committed to making sure that those higher-risk members stayed connected. Our Membership team reached out to both the active and inactive members to make sure they were okay. If there was a need, we helped connect them to the resources available in our community. Our team made calls to over 5800 senior citizens who are affiliated with the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina.”
“Beyond emergency services, the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina has also met members’ needs through technology and outside-the-box thinking. “Our fitness staff provided virtual fitness instructions by creating over 250 videos for YouTube since March. There have been over 200,000 views, and our team is currently revamping those videos with fresh content.”
“And our outdoor group exercise proved to be a big hit,” Stan said. “Even as the weather has gotten colder, we still have members making positive comments about those outdoor classes!” according to Law.
Community Support Is Needed
When it comes to giving back, the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina has certainly risen to the occasion. “We’ve been thankful that even during COVID, our members paid dues and provided financial support to our organization,” said Law. “Those fees and gifts enable us to keep going strong, despite being closed for six months. We are committed to being there for Forsyth County and beyond, but we still need support.”
The YMCA of Northwest North Carolina is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and through generous supporters, programs to meet the needs of the community during a pandemic have been made possible. Financial gifts also mean that families in need can have access to programs and resources they may not be able to afford otherwise.
Gifts can be mailed to the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina at 301 N. Main Street, Suite 1900, Winston-Salem, NC 27101. Donations can also be given online through the website. You can also designate funds through the YMCA Endowment Fund.
The YMCA of Northwest North Carolina certainly did their part in 2020. Let’s make sure our community does our part for them in 2021!
The YMCA of Northwest North Carolina has multiple YMCA locations throughout Forsyth County and the surrounding area. Visit YMCANWNC.org to find the YMCA location closest to you. Stay connected through Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.