Y Reopens for Indoor Fitness While Meeting Urgent Needs

now open

Asheville, N.C., Sept. 30, 2020 – The YMCA of Western North Carolina is putting safety first as it welcomes members back for indoor workouts and wellness.

“When we temporarily closed our facilities in March, we did so to protect the health and well-being of all our staff, volunteers, members, and program participants. Now that we’re open again indoors, we have the same commitment to keeping everyone safe,” said Paul Vest, president and CEO of the local nonprofit.

The Y’s safety precautions include frequent cleaning, health screenings, mask requirements and upgraded air filtration. With capacity limited to 30 percent, members have plenty of room for a socially distanced indoor workout.

More programs and services are coming in October, including pickleball, racquetball, family basketball, and indoor exercise classes by reservation. Outdoor classes will continue as weather allows.

The Y is excited to reopen, but Vest notes that it didn’t stop offering programs for spirit, mind, and body during its temporary closure.

“We refused to let the pandemic stop us from fulfilling our mission to serve all,” said Vest. “Instead, we saw it as an opportunity to step up and do even more for the most vulnerable in our community.”

Caring for children in crisis

As the state’s largest provider of licensed school-age childcare, the YMCA serves families in Buncombe, Henderson, and McDowell counties, both at Y facilities and in the public schools. Strong local partnerships helped the Y continue that care throughout the pandemic.

Between March and May, the Y provided emergency care for children of essential workers and first responders, then shifted to day camp in the summer months. When the school year began, the Y began operating full-day virtual learning hubs. It continues to adapt its services to support each school system’s return to learn plans.

Through it all, the Y has given hundreds of local children a supportive and nurturing environment during a traumatic time.

“You gave my children safety and a place to learn and grow relationships in a safe environment while away from us,” said Sonya Farr, whose two daughters are in YMCA childcare. “I will always be grateful for that.”

Delivering food, hope and well-being

The Y’s Community Health team has been busier than ever during the pandemic. Their free mobile food markets have worked with many community partners to distribute over 205,000 pounds of fresh produce and deliver more than 106,000 nutritious meals to people in need since March.

There is no charge for the Y’s hunger relief services, and no questions are asked. “Thank you for all you do. You have made a great impact on the health of my family,” said a mobile market attendee who also picks up food for housebound neighbors.

When the shutdown began, the Y moved many of its classes online, including group exercise, cooking, and diabetes prevention and management. It continues to offer many of its exercise classes to the public at no charge. Staff members also made thousands of wellness calls to senior citizens to help prevent social isolation.

Thanks for staying with us

“The pandemic has proven what we’ve always known – that the Y is much more than gyms and pools,” said Vest. “As a nonprofit community benefit organization, our Y is about people – people from all backgrounds and walks of life who come together to improve their lives, nurture their families, and strengthen their community.”

By staying with the Y, members and donors have enabled the Y to fill critical social gaps.

“We are so incredibly grateful to the people who have stood by us throughout these challenging times,” said Vest. “You were here for your community when it needed you most, and the Y is still here for you.”