When school closures were announced in Washington state to slow the spread of the coronavirus, many families were suddenly left without child care and needed to quickly figure out how to balance full-time caregiving and full-time homeschooling with their full-time jobs. This dilemma was especially challenging for health care workers, first responders, and other essential workers who were on the frontlines fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Many were in an urgent need for child care so they could continue to work — our community was depending on them.

The YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties partnered with local school districts to meet the need for those families. In just over a week, the Y was running full-day child care sites at 14 schools in seven districts. Care is offered free for essential workers, so these heroes can focus on their responsibilities knowing their children are in a safe, enriching environment.

The Y is proud to serve more than 300 children and their families during this difficult and stressful time. YMCA Child Care sites provide kids with a sense of normalcy during a moment of crisis with activities designed to keep them engaged in learning while schools are closed. Children also receive nutritious lunches prepared by the kitchen staff at YMCA Camp Seymour.

The Y not only is finding ways to support those on the frontlines, but it also has found creative ways to provide a variety of their programs to community the through live virtual videos. These videos feature everything from instructor-led workouts, cooking and art classes, kids’ programs, and more. The Y also recently developed a program called the COVID-19 Community Café, a virtual space for people suffering from COVID-19 and their families or friends. This weekly café is a place of emotional and spiritual support and encouragement. It is a place to share resources and ideas of how to navigate the journey toward recovery together.

Since April 1, the Y has stopped collecting membership dues as its branches remain closed. This means that currently the Y is counting on the generosity of the community to maintain emergency programs. It takes $15,000 per week to care for 100 children up to 12 hours a day (open hours are from 6:30 a.m.  to 7:30 p.m.). This includes an increase in staff-to-child ratios to support the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.

Those wishing to contribute to support the Y’s response to the community’s needs can text the word “Possible” to 44321 or donate online. Those interested in the Community Café can fill out this form to participate and connect to the Café via Zoom.

Brought to you by our community partners at Merit Construction.