In mid March, within a period of 48 hours our operation completely closed down due to government-mandated Covid 19 restrictions. Our top priority became continued relevance in the face of rapidly changing community needs and responsible stewardship for our association and its assets, both physical and human.
The closure of all YMCA Northumberland facilities in March of 2020 was a devastating and never before seen development. Not being able to deliver programs and services or connect with people in the traditional ways felt like overwhelming adversity for our YMCA, but that was quickly resolved. Even when our doors were closed, our work would continue, and our dedication to delivering on our mission would never falter. ‘Pivot’ became the new behavioural norm as we worked to adapt our programs, services, priorities, and delivery methods. Using technology, creative solutions and a tremendous amount of adaptability and commitment, our team worked to create meaningful and impactful opportunities to serve our communities.
Emergency Child Care was offered to ensure essential workers had a safe and enriching program for their children while they went out to serve. Programs were adapted to virtual delivery to ensure continued engagement, connection and commitment to health was possible for our participants. Consultation and collaboration with other organizations led to identification of gaps in community services, and opportunities to serve our communities in new ways, such as addressing food security, being part of a solution to serve individuals who are homeless, and above all else, demonstrating kindness, commitment to service leadership and compassion in any way possible.
Our YMCA doors reopened May 18th, and we welcomed back our members with new guidelines and practices that focused on our commitment to keeping people safe, while still maintaining the essential human elements that make YMCA programs successful. Important lessons were learned about what is really at the heart of our YMCA when you strip away facilities, lesson plans and equipment, and we are forever grateful for the people who are at the heart of what we do.