James Morton, CEO of the YMCA of Greater Boston announced today:
In light of the uncertainty created by the closure of schools and the increased threat of the Coronavirus, we must focus our resources of time, talent and treasure on those amongst who are at the greatest risk – our children. We have, therefore, elected to close our fitness centers and pools on Monday, March 16, and utilize our facilities to feed children and to care for the youth and teens in the communities we serve. We will encourage families to keep their children at home; however, it goes without saying that some parents must work and some parents are first responder and "essential" employees who must work to protect us. These families need safe and reliable places for their children.
We will engage a strategy that enabled us to serve more than 837,000 meals and snacks to children in 2019, as well as a strategy that saw us serve the needs of 65,000 youth and teens. In the coming weeks, the need for food and services for children will increase exponentially. We must step up and act consistently with our legacy.
Since our inception in 1851, we have always been that organization that walked in the direction of the challenge. Today, we are being asked to make a choice; either we close our branches entirely in order to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus or we feed and care for children while taking the calculated risk that we can protect them from exposure to the virus. We cannot stand by and permit children to go hungry or to be traumatized by their lack of options.
Morton said that in coming days, the Y will be adding a series of "virtual and live stream classes" to its member app for adults. He asked adult members to keep paying their membership fees to help the Y in its new temporary focus until it can re-open its fitness centers and pools:
Naturally, we will put your membership on hold, but if you want to join us in service to others, we invite you to join us. We know your membership is meaningful to us and that "meaning" lies in the relationships you have built at the Y. Those relationships are based upon the humanity you share with others. We are asking you to support us in service of "our" children. The Coronavirus has created enormous uncertainty; however, how we manage it is in our control. Join us in creating a history that demonstrates how we came together and served those who needed us the most. Let us tell the story of the "meaningful" ways in which we responded. Let that be the story that is told.