HAMILTON, NJ -- The impact of coronavirus is being felt by one of the community's cornerstone organizations -- the Hamilton Area YMCA. With facilities closed since March 15 to stop the spread of the virus, the YMCA has been forced to cut hundreds of staff members as a result of the financial loss caused by the closure. 

In a letter to the community, Hamilton Area YMCA CEO Diana Zita shared that they are "facing a tremendous challenge."

"With revenues disappearing in an instant, we had no choice but to temporarily make the difficult decision to lay off all 268 of our part-time staff and half of our full-time staff, leaving 10 remaining staff members who are working to serve our community, having to take a 10% pay cut," wrote Zita.  "It was a heart-breaking decision.  These individuals are the back-bone of our organization, and they maintain deep, meaningful relationships with our members and our community." 

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In recent weeks, the YMCA has provided free online exercise classes to keep families moving while sheltering at-home and hosted a blood drive to address the critical shortage. These efforts have been part of the Y's mission to provide service to the community, organizers say, adding that they also are assisting in the distribution of food for the school district's free and reduced lunch program. In addition, they are in the process of offering childcare for first responders. 

"We are diligently exploring every possible income source available to assist us through this very difficult time so we can welcome back our staff and continue supporting our community through the many critical programs and services our Y offers," Zita assured YMCA supporters.  

Hamilton Area YMCA members are being asked to continue their membership with the assurance that they are "eager to reopen our doors, and when that time comes, we know it will be an exciting day, filled with celebration." 

Businesses or individuals who would like to provide financial assistance to the YMCA to continue its programming once reopen can donate by clicking here. or contacting Diana Zita at DZita@Hamiltonymca.org. 

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