Front & Center in our Community: Keene Family YMCA

 

Keene Family YMCA

Year founded: 1885

Leadership: Dan Smith, CEO

Number of employees: 144

Number of volunteers: 67

“ We are awed by the difference-making unity and common purpose that help to stitch together this wonderful community. ”

—Paul R. Miller, Development & Community Impact Director Keene Family YMCA

   

Overview

Our many community initiatives include health, wellness and exercise programs for all ages. Not only does the Y encourage and foster healthful living in our community, but our programs also serve as a vehicle that brings people together and helps unify our community – both of which align with our mission statement.

Mission

We are committed to strengthening and connecting our community and people in our community. By working side by side with our neighbors, we can help assure that everyone – regardless of age, income or background—has the same opportunity to learn grow, thrive and reach their full potential.

How the organization serves our community

Our focus is to identify and respond to emergent needs in our community. Given the challenges presented by the pandemic over the past year-plus, this has been especially important.

We’re proud of our Y team of childcare providers, camp staff, wellness directors, fitness coaches, volunteers and supporters who take great pride in helping to restore hope and routine to the lives of the individuals, children, and families who have come to rely on our support and our offerings.

Our Membership for All program, funded by donors, assures that as many people as possible can enjoy a membership, access critical care services like childcare, and access programs and services through subsidies and scholarships. We strive to serve the entire community by providing financial assistance, which is determined by individual applicant needs.

We strive to live our cause with purpose every day, to model kindness and inclusiveness, and to be true to our service and engagement principles.

Recent programs and initiatives we’ve implemented to help support our community include:

Emergency Child Care: During the pandemic, the Y has provided more than 1,500 hours of emergency childcare at three licensed Y sites.

Blood Drives: Several blood drives yielded hundreds of pints collected, which makes a huge difference. Consider: One pint of donated blood can help save as many as three people’s lives.

Virtual Programming: We kept our community active by offering hundreds of hours of exercise and youth/family activities to the public. In fact, you can join our Facebook Group Exercise page by visiting our Facebook page.

Volunteers: Dozens of volunteers give back to support the Y’s mission to strengthen the community by giving hundreds of hours of service annually. We cannot do what we do without them. Volunteers average a little more than 300 hours a month.

Mental Health Support: More than 1,000 families and youth received services to prevent youth substance use, build resiliency, and reduce stress and anxiety.

Health & Wellness Support: We gave and continue to give special attention to seniors,  including wellness checks and essential shopping support.

Celebrations: We created drive-by birthday parades with special emphasis on youths and seniors.

Community cause: The Y served as back-up bed location for patients fighting COVID-19.

Academic Support & Enrichment Program (ASE): This unique program was designed to help ease the burden that parents, teachers and schoolchildren in our community were dealing with during the pandemic. In some instances, the program allowed parents (including teachers) to continue to work. ASE provided children in kindergarten through Grade 5 support with remote learning assignments as well as enrichment programming (Claymation and Robotics, included) throughout the day. Students could also engage in sports and group games, creative arts, and social-emotional learning – all with strict safety guidelines in place. 

Dan Smith, CEO of the Keene Family YMCA, said that when the pandemic began, the effects of the health crisis on school-aged childcare, locally and nationally, was clear and significant.  It would take a team to carry programs and providers through the crisis – and into the subsequent recovery.

“I continue to draw great inspiration from the goodwill of our community’s institutions and their eagerness to respond with financial assistance to emerging needs in our community,” Smith said. “Our children are stronger and more resilient because our community cares.”  Donors responded in a big way to make the program possible, with Savings Bank of Walpole and Fenton Family Dealerships leading the way.