Wherever they exist, YMCAs are the beating heart of the communities they serve, providing essential programs for children, seniors and entire families. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, South Sound YMCA faced considerable challenges in continuing to provide those services. Not only did demand for childcare increase exponentially as centers throughout the state closed their doors, but traditional sources of funding simultaneously dried up to an alarming degree.
“We lost close to 50% of our revenue,” says South Sound YMCA Executive Director Kyle Cronk. “We were a $10 million entity and suddenly by May, we were looking at half of that. We couldn’t open anything, programs were cancelled, our branch operations were closed, and people couldn’t come to the Y. All revenue stopped.”
With support from their board, the nonprofit kept moving. Within just four days of Governor Inslee’s emergency declaration, they had organized Y-Care services for 270 local families with parents who are emergency first responders or healthcare workers. Staff adapted existing programs to accommodate health protocols and created new ones to meet the growing need for academic support for the thousands of students engaged in remote learning, many of them without the internet access or guidance to be successful on their own.
During this stressful period, United Way of Thurston County contacted Cronk with an offer of COVID-19 relief funds that could be used for whatever needs were most pressing. “The unrestricted funds allow flexibility for the nonprofit to react to the ever-changing situation on the ground,” he says. “We could use it for childcare, for branch operations or to retain staff. United Way and other nonprofits banded together in this time of need to provide support services and that really stresses the importance of partnerships and collaboration.”
United Way’s contribution made a significant difference when it mattered, according to Cronk. “United Way stepped up with funding that they could deliver to us quickly,” he explains. “That helped us to plan and assure our community that we were going to make it out of this.”