What A Difference A Year Makes!

It was 16 months ago when the world and our community came to a screeching halt. I can remember learning about the Stay at Home order, taking effect at 3:00 PM on Monday, March 16, 2020. I was scheduled to attend an emergency food collection and distribution meeting at Grand Haven Area Public Schools, hosted by Superintendent, Andy Ingall, to coordinate food delivery for kids who relied on school for breakfast and lunch. In that moment, the Community Food Drive launched. Although our doors were closed we focused on the work at hand, food collection and distribution, blood drives, “virtual” programing including health and wellness classes, preschool read alongs, outreach to vulnerable members including our seniors, and eventually opening child care and camp for essential workers, and so much more.

Today, as we open our doors with all restrictions lifted, we reflect on what we have learned over the past year and a half. First, what was important before COVID-19 remains important now, service to the community. This guiding principle was front and center during the pandemic and is firmly at the core of everything we do today. We have hosted a monthly blood drive every month since April of 2020. Our food collection and distribution program has evolved into our Y being a vital food provider to families in the Tri-Cities, including an expansion this summer where we are serving over 300 meals and snacks a day.

I’m proud of the effort our teams made to address the social and emotional wellbeing of our community. We know the Y builds community, but we underestimated the impact the Y has on the community’s mental health. Last fall when we reopened for membership, it was seniors, one of the most vulnerable populations, which led the way in our recovery. This summer we are blessed to see the response to our youth programs and camps, which provide quality affordable childcare to working families throughout our community. The sounds of kids in activity fill the hallways, gyms and pool. It is a common site to see our campers hiking through town exploring all that Grand Haven has to offer. From fishing off the pier to shopping at the farmer’s market, to cooling off at the splash pad or beach, Y kids are engaged and cared for by a remarkable group of staff.

We are truly here for good! Thanks to the generosity of our community, donors have graciously supported the Y to insure access for every individual through our community scholarship fund. This year the Y is on track to give back to the community over $300,000 in free or subsidized programs and services.

As we look forward to the second half of 2021, I’m reminded of the resilience of our community and the need to care for each other in good and challenging times. Most importantly, I am proud to lead an organization that stepped up and played a small part in our community’s recovery. We demonstrated that living our vision for Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility means that we are doing amazing things for kids and families all across the Tri-Cities!

Gregory Coil, CEO