With determination, she was able to get herself to an emergency room.
Unfortunately, a diagnosis was many months in the future as she was sent to round after round of specialists. It took almost a year to discover that she had suffered from a stroke – the kind that doesn’t show up easily in diagnostic tests.
While the diagnosis was welcome, and medication helped with the headaches, it didn’t help Cheryl’s balance. At just 50 years old, she was only able to walk with support, often using the walls of her home to help propel her to-and-from her home “office” where she worked.
That’s when she discovered the YMCA of Eastern Ontario and had a fitness program designed just for her. Six months later, she is able to walk on her own and, although she still has a way to go, she is on the road to feeling like her former self.
“I don’t know what I’d do without the Y,” Cheryl said.
Today, the YMCA of Eastern Ontario is launching its Strong Communities annual campaign to help Cheryl and others like her access Y programs through our financial assistance program.
The YMCA supports 22 per cent of memberships through financial assistance, an increase from 20 per cent pre-pandemic. Support for kids attending summer camps has risen from one-in-five to one-in-three over the same period.
One of the big stories coming out of Covid has been the increased need for interpersonal connection and the toil the pandemic has taken on mental health.
The Y has seen a surge in the number of teens accessing teen-specific programs like Teen Night at Brockville Y where up to 200 teens drop in on Friday nights for a meal and to socialize in a positive and safe environment; or the Alternative Suspension program at Kingston Y where teens get support during short-term school suspensions and long afterward.
Charlie was referred to the Y by his probation officer. His mom walked out on him and his sibling in early December, leaving them alone in a one-bedroom apartment that flooded. A staff member from Connect Youth said: “We’re supporting him to get connected to housing services, CAS, etc. I asked him today if he had anything he looked forward to under the circumstances. [Charlie told me:] ‘YMCA Teen Night every Friday. It’s the only thing I go to for now’.”
Continued support for teen programs is the only thing that stands between Charlie and the empowering programs provided by Y mentors.
Jessie is eight years old. She loves reading and dinosaurs, and wants to be a scientist when she grows up. Her eyes sparkle when she talks about her day camp experience last summer when she attended Urban Explorers. She loved learning about local plants and the important role that insects play while she earned Y value beads and made new friends.
Will you be the drop that helps Jessie attend summer camp again this year?
Every dollar we raise goes directly to people just like Cheryl, Charlie and Jessie. Our financial assistance program ensures that those who need it are not denied access to healthy programs – programs that really make a difference.