Recently, we asked community leaders about their image of the Y. There was not a single response that mentioned treadmills, pools or basketballs.
Scott Mitchell, executive director of the Erie Zoo, summed it up best, “if the fitness part of the Y went away – our community would be okay – but, if all of the other programs and services the Y provided were to cease – we would have a huge void.”
Here are highlights of the Y’s impact , from A to Z:
Our City Mission Chests collect tens of thousands of pounds of gently used clothes for the Erie City Mission. Donations are often picked up daily from the overflowing chests. Y staff and volunteers also stuff more than 1,000 turkey dinner baskets for Erie’s homeless.
Thousands of children and adults got involved in Y membership programs like camp, afterschool, youth sports, teen clubs, family activities and wellness programs as a result of more than $800,000 being provided in financial assistance through the Y to those in need.
We strengthened our promise to our kids to do more to help them reach their potential and improve their health. Better nutrition and physical activity guidelines – especially in our early care and school-age enrichment programs – are setting nutritional standards for meals and snacks served by the Y, as well as, increasing structured play time for kids.
Annually, the Y graduated 245 preschoolers to kindergarten. Resulting from the United Way’s Erie Together initiative, superintendents and preschool educators came together to identify 50 skills that should be developed in a child to ensure kindergarten readiness. The Y has incorporated this checklist into our extensive curriculum and is more poised than ever to help children be prepared socially, emotionally, physically and intellectually for kindergarten. In 2012, we began participating in the Erie Community Foundation’s Erie’s Future’s Fund which established additional resources for low-income children to attend quality preschool and help more kids get ready for school.
Drowning is the 2nd leading cause of accidental death in the United States for children 1-14. As a lakefront city, our Y believes that it is necessary for ALL to learn how to swim. Through group, individual and adapted swimming lessons for kids and adults, 6,039 participated in swimming lessons through the Y.
YMCA Kids Clubs serve youth residing in the neighborhoods served by the Erie Housing Authority. As many as 75 youth a day (more in the summer months) ages 6-18 years old spend up to 6 hours per day participating in activities and programs that enhance their overall well-being. Additionally, youth are served snacks and meals, have access to many collaborative community programs and are loved by the caring staff.
For years, the Y has been serving up free food and fun during the summer months as part of our Summer Meals program for kids funded by the Walmart Foundation. We serve just over 15,000 meals from June-August. 2013 marked the first year that the Y expanded our meals program to include dinner meals served during the school year. Our Meals for Kids program at the Eastside Y served hot meals every Tuesday & Thursday, January-June. Our volunteers served 1,280 free meals for kids – supporting families with a healthy alternative to the drive thru.
Since 2001, the Y has been collaborating with the City of Erie to provide summer recreational programming at nine City of Erie neighborhood parks. Y staff build community among the kids and keep them active through traditional park & playground games. Kids also build friendships between each other and with the staff. About 600 youth take part in the City’s Parks & Rec program.
For more than two decades, the Downtown Y has provided a hot shower to those served at the daytime shelter, The Upper Room. Periodically, Y members also donate goods for basic needs.
With a $20,000 capacity building grant received through the Erie Community Foundation’s ReTool Erie initiative, the Y reinvigorated our integration of volunteerism throughout our facilities and programs and recommitted to giving
back to our neighbors through mobilizing volunteers to support other non-profits and community projects. We identified hundreds of volunteer opportunities, took steps to improve the volunteer experience and created an interactive section of www.ymcaerie.org to match a volunteer’s interests with open volunteer positions. More than 15,000 hours of community service are volunteered to the Y and through the Y.
Learn more about the Y’s impact at www.WeBuildPeopleErie.org