RED BANK, NJ: When COVID-19 hit last spring, the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County had to close our doors and lay off 80 percent of our employees.  We felt the worry of the uncertainties facing our team, the 35,000 people we serve every day, and our greater community.

But we trusted that our cause to strengthen community would bring us together and make us even stronger as it did in the wake of Superstorm Sandy and in other times of crisis.

Within two weeks of the state-mandated shutdown, our Y was able to shift and respond to urgent needs in our community.  Our members made this possible by continuing their membership dues even though they could not come in for their daily swim, work out or favorite fitness class.  They even rolled up their sleeves and volunteered 1,289 hours to lend a hand with our COVID-19 community response.

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Our members’ generosity has enabled the Y to carry on our mission during this unprecedented health crisis in new and different ways.  From hosting blood drives, COVID-19 testing, and food collections to providing essential child care and a variety of virtual programs, the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County has made a significant impact in our community.

>  More than 14,000 meals and 5,121 boxes of fresh produce have nourished local families and individuals through YMCA partnerships with local food banks and food collection at our facilities.

>  The Y provided 770 hours of emergency child care and peace of mind to essential workers with help from five volunteer nurses.

>  YMCA therapeutic counselors responded to the growing need for mental health support with over 41,512 interactions, many via telehealth, a new model for our Y.

>  We helped keep our community physically active and mentally engaged during the quarantine with over 3,172 hours of streamed virtual programs.

We are profoundly grateful for our members’ overwhelming support during the pandemic to lift our neighbors in need and strengthen our community.  In my 27 years as a YMCA professional, I have never been prouder to be part of the Y family.

Laurie Goganzer is President and CEO of YMCA of Greater Monmouth County, a nonprofit organization that serves 35,000 people in central New Jersey. A cause-driven leader, Goganzer is reinventing YMCA services with support from members to address vital and changing needs in the community during the unprecedented pandemic. For more information on life-changing Y programs and services, visit www.ymcanj.org.