NORTH GEORGIA — YMCA of Metro Atlanta facilities are closed to the public but will still provide a much-needed service amid the coronavirus pandemic. The organization announced last week it will offer childcare for healthcare workers, and plans are in place to begin the service in Alpharetta and Forsyth County.
The service will be available to several Atlanta area hospitals, including the Northside and WellStar systems.
Lauren Koontz, CEO of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta, said the organization is “repurposing” to provide services that will critical in the coming weeks.
“In many ways this is our moment to truly deliver on our promise of service to those who turn to us for community and to those who turn to us for survival,” Koontz said.
The Y plans to begin offering childcare at the Ed Isakson/Alpharetta YMCA this week with plans to roll out the service at the Forsyth County Family YMCA.
“When there is a need, the Y fills that need,” Allison Toller, chief social impact officer with YMCA of Metro Atlanta said. “The healthcare industry and its workers are being stretched, so who is there to take care their children? This is a way to ease that burden.”
Childcare will be available from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. for kids aged 3- to 12-years old. Toller said the metro Atlanta Y system has the capacity to take care of over 2,000 children.
“While we realized we needed to close for the health and safety of the community, we still have the opportunity to be there for our community,” Toller said.
The partnership between the hospitals and the organization will also allow Y employees to continue working while normal operations are suspended. The hospitals offering childcare to employees are either covering the cost of the service or working out a fee structure.
“[Childcare] is something we want to provide, and with the Y being closed, our revenue model is being drastically shifted, and the revenue from those hospitals is critical,” Toller said.
In addition to providing childcare for healthcare workers and first responders dealing with COVID-19, some metro Atlanta Y locations will also provide assurance to those facing food insecurity.
Toller said as the Y works to assist the metro Atlanta community, some are asking how they can lend a hand to the organization.
“We imagine there is going to be a need for resources, and already we have been asked by companies in the area how they can help,” Toller said. “We would urge people to contact their local Y and see if there are ways they can help, either financially or in-kind. There are going to be needs, and we ask the community to support us.”
The organization also wants its members to stick with the Y amid the coronavirus shutdown.
“We ask our members stay with us,” Toller said. “While the services we provide members are on hold, we hope they continue to be members and support what we are doing.”