Dear Members and Friends of the YMCA:
First and foremost, welcome back! On behalf of the team here at the YMCA, we are very happy to be opening our doors and to seeing you back. During the closure, we have not been idle and there is much news for me to share.
It is no secret that the pandemic has created challenges for businesses and organizations across the country and around the world. The Y has not been immune from this and there have been many difficult decisions to be made, resulting in some permanent facility closures. At the YMCA of Eastern Ontario, our approach has been to ensure our relevancy and sustainability by reaching out to our communities to identify gaps in service and to establish partnerships that fit with our mission of building healthier communities.
We have partnered with the City of Kingston to manage the new fitness facility in the Kingston East Community Centre, which is opening in the spring. This is an exciting opportunity to bring Y programming to Kingston’s east-end. We are also continuing our work with the City of Brockville to obtain support for our Brockville facility, particularly for the pool, as it is the only such facility in the area. Brockville council has recognized the Y’s importance as a community asset which we hope will translate into a commitment of support.
Last year, Brockville council had requested that the Y look into providing options for the growing sport of pickleball, which we have done by obtaining a grant of more than $427,300 to renovate our tennis courts. This area will be redesigned for multi-sport use. I look forward to sharing the design with you once it has been finalized.
A few days ago, I had the opportunity to present to the provincial government’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs to advocate for a “made-in-Ontario” plan to help charities like the YMCA stabilize and recover from the pandemic. We discussed the value of our many YMCA programs as well as the challenges we’ve been facing throughout the pandemic. It was heartening to hear from MPPs across all party lines of their respect for the YMCA and our role as conduits of community wellness. The YMCA will continue to be and advocate for sector support on behalf of all charities.
Yesterday was Bell Let’s Talk Day – a day to recognize the importance of destigmatizing mental illness. During the closure, your Y has been posting wellness reminders to encourage everyone to take a moment to do something for their own wellbeing. The GM of our Kingston facility, Brittiney Poffley, spoke to Move radio about the connection between physical activity and mental health. You can listen to her interview filled with lots of good information here.
I would also like to give a shout-out to our childcare staff who, again, adapted to the every-changing pandemic by offering another round of emergency childcare services. Our childcare employees have proven yet again, their dedication to the children in our care. My sincere thanks to each of them.
Finally, I would like to thank members who donated their January fees to help their Y during January’s closure. Every dollar helps us to re-open stronger than we could have. We continue to face challenges including with staffing and ask for your patience as we rebuild programs and extend hours as staffing and member use allows.
I wish you and your families the best. We can’t wait to see you back at your Y!
Rob Adams, CEO, YMCA of Eastern Ontario