How the YMCA is rallying to the challenge of coronavirus infections, even as its finances take a hit

Brooke DiPalma
Associate Producer

As confirmed cases in the United States of Coronavirus or COVID-19 rises above 500,000, most employees across the nation are working from home.

And others — including emergency, essential and nonprofit workers like those at the YMCA—are working on the ground to help.

“We are still doing effective work in communities,” Kevin Washington, YMCA of the USA CEO, told Yahoo Finance’s “On The Move” in an interview this week. “We have over 600 YMCAs that are doing essential child development services for first responders.” 

It doesn’t stop there. The 170 year old nonprofit is also delivering food to community members where students typically receive free lunch.

Additionally, it partnered with the American Red Cross to host blood drives as the nation’s supply of donations continues to shrink due to an “unprecedented number of cancellations” amid the coronavirus outbreak.

As it turns out, the YMCA is helping out even in areas where they are technically shuttered. Communities across the country are also turning to them to use temporarily closed facilities for alternative purposes.

“In Los Angeles they’re using their facilities to to house some of the homeless and vulnerable populations ... to ensure that folks have access to hot showers and things of that nature,” Washington said. 

Similar actions were taken in COVID-19 hotspots like Chicago and New York. 

A poster informs guests about health habits and an action plan to fight the coronavirus as people exercise at a YMCA community center and gym in Washington, DC on March 12, 2020. (Photo by EVA HAMBACH/AFP via Getty Images)

‘Unprecedented times’

The nonprofit continues to make headway with 500,000 staff members and 2,600 facilities serving 10,000 communities across the country. Yet it expects an excess of $400 million dollars of lost operating revenue in April 2020 alone as the pandemic hits home.

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, a “significant number” of YMCA employees are out of work across the country. Washington said that facilities were forced to furlough “somewhere between 75 percent and some wise as high as 95 percent of their people.”

For this reason, he added that the Y “needs additional resources” from Congress. 

Alongside more than 100 nonprofit organizations, the YMCA of the USA has lobbied Congress to pass $60 billion in support for nonprofits and their efforts. 

The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act “did provide some opportunity for some of our YMCAs, particularly those YMCA that have less than 500 employees,” according to Washington. Yet the larger organizational infrastructure is in need of “additional support from Congress.”

Washington added: “We are here to be part of the community. We've been here forever… we're looking forward to being a partner with Congress and a partner in the communities that we serve.”

Brooke DiPalma is a producer for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma.

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