OST 2020 pt2 | West Suburban YMCA

How the Y Rescued One Family During COVID

Dec 15, 2020

Zhenya Barshai’s family first came to the Y in the summer of 2020. Six months later, they can’t imagine life without the Community Connections Out-of-School Time program. She shared more about their experience with us:

"Our family’s first experience at the Y was Camp Pikati, which took place under COVID restrictions.  We were amazed how well the Y blended all the necessary safety measures and kept a super fun and positive camp experience. That positive experience led us to jump at the chance to enroll our son on days when he is remote learning at school. 

The Y was amazing at organizing a safe camp and revamping their OST program within weeks to make it full day in order to work with the public schools' schedule. How can I describe the gift of being able to work during these difficult times? I also know that the Y adheres very strictly to safety rules, and I am grateful that they know how to still have fun with kids while wearing masks and observing physical distancing.

The ability for our son to safely get out and socialize and enjoy the Y has had an immense impact on keeping his development on track.  He is not served well by being at home every day.  The impact on Mom’s sanity cannot be understated!  Everyone in our household is better off with the Y under COVID than we would be without it.  All other alternatives were either too expensive or did not compare to what the Y can offer.

Now, the Y feels like the extension of our family. I cannot describe how welcoming and kind everyone is. This is a place where all staff know my son's name and are used to his quirks. From the first day of camp and then OST program, our son has been surrounded by staff that love children and know how to have a good time while also teaching kids how to work as a team and persist when things get challenging (just to name a few skills). Even now that everyone is wearing masks, everyone greeting Simon and walking him to my car is still smiling with their eyes and voices. 

At first the Y was just a nice place to swim or workout. But during COVID the Y rescued our family.  It gave our son a chance to safely socialize which was one of biggest concerns.  When we first dropped our son off at the Y he didn’t want to go.  Now, he complains when the day is over and he has to leave."

The Y’s Annual Fund enables families from all economic backgrounds to participate in the Out-of-School Time Program. To learn more about how to give, visit donate.wsymca.org/GiveWSYMCA.