As COVID-19 sweeps the nation, everyone and everything is being affected – students, families, businesses – and whether it’s from suffering financial burdens or no longer leaving our homes, all of our lives have been dramatically changed.
Amid this chaos we find ourselves in, the core institutions that hold us together are slowly falling apart. The YMCAs that have done so much for every community are now pleading for your support and advocacy to keep them alive.
The YMCA is more than a local gym or the basis for a catchy song – it’s an organization that provides for everyone.
For me, the Y helped me find my interest in politics. In eighth grade, I would go every Wednesday to the Hillsborough Y to prepare for my first Y conference, Youth and Government. As several doors opened, I participated in the many programs the Y had to offer: I joined Model United Nations, was selected to attend the YMCA Conference on National Affairs, and less than a month ago, I had the opportunity to lobby Congress as a YMCA National Youth Advocate.
While my Y story guided me in the direction of politics and debate, the Y means something different to everybody. To some, it’s where they learned how to dance, swim or play basketball. And to others, it’s the only affordable option for them to educate their kids or workout at a gym.
At my local Y, the Hillsborough YMCA, and at several others in New Jersey, membership is free for all seventh graders, recognizing that this is the age group in which habits begin to stick. There is also a financial assistance program, which gives anyone seeking membership the ability to receive up to 90% price reductions.
However, these opportunities are fading away as the YMCA has had to close down programming in consideration of public health. Unfortunately, the Y has seen a $40 billion deficit in charitable donations and a $20 billion loss from cancelled programs.
If the YMCA is not funded properly, millions will not be able to recover after COVID-19 finally disappears. Without support, families will lose access to rehabilitation, fitness and healthy living programs.
This is why I am asking my congressmen to vote in favor of the $60 Billion Stimulus Package currently being pushed through Congress. This comprehensive plan would ensure that nonprofits across the country, including the Y, would receive the funding they need.
I implore you to contact your local representatives and ask them to back this plan as well, for the nonprofits that shape our local communities are counting on our support.
Montgomery High School