The Georgetown YMCA has been part of our community since 2017. Cat Phelps moved here in 2019 as Extension Director. Under her leadership it has grown from serving 400 children to 1500+ children in 2021.
The YMCA, not having a large facility in which to accommodate all the children who could be served, has used creativity to make a system they call “Y on the Fly.” They have bought two buses to pick up and deliver children to activities around the community. “Big Purple”, as one of the buses is affectionately known, means “Fun!” when it pulls up to a school to pick up the children. During the school year, it may take them bowling, to Camp Brightwell, mini golfing, etc., and then back to the YMCA building for dinner and homework help. During the summer months, it delivers the children to the pool at Southwestern University to help yet another group of children, who may not have easy access to recreational water, be more water safe for when they do encounter a lake or river
We all rode the “Fun Bus” to Southwestern to see the Water Safety classes at work. Three high school lifeguards employed by the YMCA worked individually with the children, who took turns learning how to jump in, float on their back, climb safely back out again (elbow, elbow, tummy, knee), and go to the end of the line to do it all over again. Once the lesson was finished, the kids put on life vests and had a free swim time. What a picture of squeals, splashes, smiles, and laughter! The children ranged in age from kindergarten to 5th grade. Any child that felt ready could try to pass the swim test by jumping in at the deep end (12 feet deep) without the life jacket and swimming the length of the pool—a daunting task for any of us.
Specific information about SoS grant and how it’s being used at the nonprofit: Our grant money allowed the YMCA to include 50 children in the water safety program and paid for a counselor and lifeguards. Across the 21-22 school year, the grant provided a new employee and 150 scholarships for children in the “Y on the Fly” program.
The money that Seeds of Strength provided to the YMCA gave so many more children an opportunity to have experiences that expanded their worlds. They got to do things they might not often get a chance to do and, hopefully, started a dream of themselves attending college in the future.