YMCA Weathers Pandemic to Help Community Stay Active

BARNSTABLE – Despite numerous challenges imposed by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the YMCA Cape Cod has weathered the pandemic and made a number of adaptations to continue to serve the community with critical needs such as childcare.

The YMCA offers a variety of healthy living programs and services, including a wellness center with weights, cardiovascular equipment and pools, said Stacie Peugh, President and CEO of the YMCA Cape Cod.

“All those amenities are open now. Of course, we’re under reduced capacity which is certainly a big challenge, but we’re not even coming close to the reduced capacities that we are maxed out at, so there’s plenty of space. Lots of opportunity for social distancing,” said Peugh.

Peugh said that coronavirus safety protocols at the Y include requiring face coverings, making sanitizer readily available and social distancing during activities. 

At 1:30 every day, the Y also shuts down for two and a half hours to do a deep cleaning of all wellness facilities and high-touch surfaces.

“We’ve also learned there’s a huge value in really vacating your building and letting air particles settle,” said Peugh.

Peugh said that during the beginning of the pandemic, the Y did face numerous closings of its activities on top of restrictions, but realized there was a way they could provide assistance to the community via emergency childcare. 

Within 48 hours, they were re-licensed to deliver the service and working with Cape Cod Healthcare to provide essential healthcare workers with a safe space for their children. 

According to Peugh, the changes to programs and services have been met with mixed reactions, with some new families coming to the Y for childcare or other services, while other, regular families have not returned to the YMCA since the pandemic began. 

She said that the Y has tried to stay in touch with families that they served prior to the pandemic and let them know that the YMCA will be prepared for them to return when they feel ready and safe. 

Peugh said that affordability also plays into whether families come back, as some community members have needed to make several cuts in their spending in the face of declining income or lost jobs in general. 

“We just want the community to know that regardless of any individual circumstances, we never turn anyone away due to an inability to pay, and we work with people on what they can afford,” said Peugh.

“Everybody has a different circumstance that they’re working through.”

Looking to the future of 2021, Peugh said that the organization is pleased to have received a total of $2.36 million in grants which will be used to expand the YMCA’s Head Start and Early Head Start program for dozens of local children. 

She said that they also look forward to a year of general recovery as the COVID-19 vaccine distribution continues.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the CapeCod.com News Center in 2019.

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