On behalf of everyone at YWCA Tri-County Area, we hope this note finds you healthy and safe, and we emphasize our gratitude for your support to YW program participants and to the entire community.
Although YWCA Tri-County Area’s buildings have been closed since March 13, the learning continues in most of our programs. YW continues to provide remote learning opportunities for its program participants, despite a loss of earned income throughout all programs. Our goal is to engage participants and their families – the majority of whom are low- to moderate-income – in program activities via internet and phone.
- Learning activities with families of children at the Early Education Center (6 months to 6 years) via the program’s electronic communication platform, Tadpoles.
- We are exploring options for summer Camp Adventures, which had been scheduled to begin in mid-June.
- Early childhood teachers and administrators are discussing plans to ensure the safety of all children and staff classrooms reopen.
- Our contract with the Pa. Department of Education requires us to provide remote services equivalent to in-person classroom services. The new session for high school equivalency education began April 13 as planned, with instructors engaging students via online platforms.
- Instructors have been engaging adult learners remotely, using online resources such as Khan Academy, Power Point presentations, and other remote learning opportunities for Adult Education and English as a Second Language students.
- YW CHAMPS is providing fitness and nutrition education for preschoolers via Facebook Live and YouTube.
- Career exploration for youth continues via Zoom calls, which allows youth without internet access at home to participate via phone.
- Healthy Pathways Project programming continues remotely via Zoom calls. Programming occurs at the regular time each week – during school or after school depending on the age group and location. Zoom calls will be recorded and provided on YW’s YouTube channel for youth who miss the live event.
- Girls who are not regular participants in in-person Healthy Pathways Project programming are participating in the virtual programming along with their friends. YW’s Youth Empowerment team is investigating how the virtual programming might continue, even after in-person programming resumes.
- Focus groups for YW’s VISTA Youth Empowerment Study will take place online; the 3-year study researches youth programming in the Pottstown area. Focus groups engage parents, youth, and youth-serving organizations.
- Although the Foster Grandparents are not mentoring children because their schools are closed, we are keeping in touch with each of the volunteers. Some of the volunteers indicated they are food insecure; we provided a list of food resources to them.
In addition, YW is providing tangible items to program participants:
- While working with YW participants, we have learned many do not have internet access in their homes, using mobile phone data plans to access the internet. YW has sought support from private foundations that will be used to provide additional data minutes so that adult learners, youth participants, and parents can access remote YW programming available online.
- We also have sought support to provide meal boxes for families in our community impacted by the shutdown: children enrolled in the Early Education Center, who receive breakfast, lunch, and snacks; and Foster Grandparents Program volunteers, who receive lunch while volunteering.
- The Early Education Center depleted its stock of diapers and wipes to provide them to families of children enrolled in Early Head Start, ELRC Infant/Toddler pilot, and Pre-K Counts ; we have applied for funding to continue that support to families.
- Feminine hygiene products, donated by Procter & Gamble, will be available to girls participating in Healthy Pathways Project.
The shutdown because of COVID-19 has caused YW, like other nonprofits, to reschedule fundraising and other events, lose earned program income, we have applied for more than $20,000 in emergency support to keep our programs going, and for the Payroll Protection Plan to support our employees, who have crafted imaginative ways to engage our program participants.
YWCA Tri-County Area serves more than 1,500 women, children, and families an educational organization that is empowering and inclusive, providing quality programs and services designed to support, engage, and enrich the community. Direct service programming includes early childhood education, after-school enrichment, youth/girls’ empowerment, adult education, and workforce development. Mission-based advocacy raises awareness, offers issue education, and builds social capital around women’s empowerment, racial and social equity, and safe and healthy communities.
This public health crisis has affected everyone, but is impacting our program participants and their families heavily. We are grateful for the support of our community as we continue to respond to the needs of our program participants. Thank you.