By Scot Baddley, President & CEO, YMCA of Greenville
On April 12, our Camp Greenville staff streamed a virtual Easter sunrise service from Pretty Place Chapel (view photo gallery from the service) to keep this 40-year-old tradition alive. The pews were empty, but more than 300,000 people joined online. It was an inspiring example of how we come together during tough times.
The YMCA of Greenville has temporarily closed its doors, but we have not stopped working. At the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, our staff mobilized to learn how we could best use our resources to help during this period of need for so many in our community.
We quickly realized that we couldn’t do it alone.
For 125 years, the YMCA of Greenville has worked to find solutions to our community’s challenges. With a mission of creating a healthy spirit, mind and body for all, we’ve worked with a long list of partners on ambitious goals.
While these unprecedented times have created a landscape of need, it doesn’t change how well our community understands that the only way forward is together. Over the past month, our programs have taken on a new look. But like always, they are made possible by Greenville’s spirit of collaboration.
Our team pulled together to provide quality care for the children of essential workers. Working with partner health care organizations, we designed a program that follows social distancing guidelines. Greenville County First Steps provided individual supply packs so that children don’t have to share items. Scholarships are made possible by the support of our donors.
At our Judson Community Center, we partnered with Greenville County Schools and Street Church Ministries to distribute meals. The partnership with GCS also gives children access to Wi-Fi from school buses to complete their schoolwork.
Using the buses normally used to pick up children for our after-school program, our staff picked up food donations from grocery stores for Loaves & Fishes to deliver to senior living facilities and soup kitchens.
Blood and food drives
We collaborated with The Blood Connection to help with the decline in blood donations. More than 60 people donated blood at two of our branches, and even more dropped off food donations for the Center for Community Services and United Ministries. Thanks to the tremendous support, we’re planning future drives.
We’re offering virtual workouts on ymcagreenville.org, on our Flex Fit app and on Facebook. Classes are well attended with some receiving more than 5,000 views. Our amazing members are sending encouraging messages and checking on each other. For our seniors who may not take a virtual class, our staff is calling them to combat the loneliness that is easy to feel right now. The Y connection goes well beyond our buildings.
An invisible virus may have closed schools, offices and even the Y, pausing many of our day-to-day activities. But it has made Greenville’s generosity and big heart even more visible. Together with our partners, the YMCA is here for everyone in this generous community, and we are here for good.