Yes, it’s fun to stay at the YMCA, but what else do you know about this nonprofit that has its own signature dance moves? YMCA is a nation-wide nonprofit that works to build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all. Here in our own backyard YMCA of Austin (the Y) identifies and solves Central Texas’ most critical needs across three pillars:
Here at United Way for Greater Austin, that is our favorite kind of fun! We are proud to fund YMCA in support of their Early Learning Readiness program (ELR), which is making a tangible difference in our community every single day.
YMCA of Austin is serving more than 65,000 members (and an additional 60,000 program participants) through their eight branches in Travis, Hays and Bastrop Counties. They also provide Afterschool Child Care at 16 licensed sites in three school districts, and at five
YMCA Learning Centers in affordable housing developments.
In Austin, across the nation and around the world, the accomplishments of the Y over the years reveal a mission to constantly search for innovative ways to meet community needs.
We all know the Y is a great place to expend energy and build community, but many people might not know how their programmatic work impacts our at-risk community. The Community Investment Grant YMCA has received from United Way will help them bring their ESL program to 60 additional at-risk children and caregivers in East Austin and Manor, so they can improve their social wellbeing and pave the pathway out of poverty.
According to Manor ISD, “a majority of students faces multiple risk factors to academic success as 74% are at-risk students, 77% economically disadvantaged, and 38% have limited English proficiency.”
In 2012, YMCA of Austin became one of the first YMCAs in the country to offer the ELR program. Since then, ELR has served nearly 400 children and 400 caregivers in Austin/Travis County. It is one of the most accessible and sustainable early childhood and parenting education programs in our community. Being a free and bilingual program offered in English and Spanish has also allowed the program to succeed in serving underprivileged families.
“The YMCA of Austin is dedicated to the transformation of community through its various programs. The YMCA is a welcoming place for all that strives provide a sense of belonging and hope for all people.”
Currently, YMCA of Austin is getting ready to host four Early Learning Readiness graduations the second week in December. This fall semester they have the opportunity to open up two new sites and serve families in the East Austin/Manor area of the city. Families are very excited as this will be many children’s very first graduation.
Not only does the Y make a huge impact with their ESL program, they are also offering a continual stream of programs year round, serving a variety of needs for families. They offer:
-Afterschool Child Care
-Ace It! tutoring program
-Summer Day Camp
Find out more about these programs online.
“We work with all ages and all abilities and are always looking for ways to make an impact in people’s lives.”
– Miriam Aubert,
Community Outreach Program Director
There are also a number of moving impact stories on the YMCA of Austin website, and one of our favorites is focused on Elvia Hernandez. Elvia was once a young girl in a low-income family, who’s mom was trying to make ends meet. She wanted to be a part of the activities at her local YMCA, but knew they didn’t have the resources to make that happen. She opens up about her experiences then, and now in her “Impact Story.”
“I know growing up, we couldn’t afford that…my mom worked two jobs, and there were four of us, and I didn’t get to do all these activities….and, it’s like – man – what if I can help a kid do those activities that I’ve always wanted to do….I can help someone do that, and it really feels good.”
Elvia has gone from sneaking into her local YMCA as a child, to donating part of the money she now earns as an employee of the Southwest Family YMCA, in hopes of giving kids like her opportunities that she never had.
Stories like Elvia’s are what makes YMCA of Austin a special place. The patrons and the staff are committed to the mission, whole heartedly. Miriam Aubert, Community Outreach Program Director thinks that she works with the greatest team around. She says their team is comprised of “people who love serving the community and giving back to others. They come to work ready to invest in and encourage both the caregivers and their children.” When asked about their dedication Miriam shared that “[last week they] did not have program running due to the school break, [but she asked the teachers] at a meeting if any of them had any extra time to come and help organize and prepare curriculum.” She was expecting a few teachers to show up, but was pleased to report that “the reality is that we had each and every teacher stop by to provide help. This is a testament to who they are. They always want to give our families the best!”
“If I were to sum up in one sentence what I get to do, I would say I get to witness the work of community heroes’ day in and day out.”
YMCA of Austin is currently enrolling families for the upcoming Spring semester that will begin in January 2019. There will be four sites located in: North Austin (Guerrero-Thompson), East Austin (Brooke Elementary), Manor (Blake Manor Elementary) and South Austin (Houston Elementary). If you or anyone you know might be interested in this enriching opportunity, please call the Y office at 512-236-9622 to register. The YMCA and the Early Learning Readiness program are always looking for volunteers to come and support the great work our families are doing throughout various programming. Find out more about getting involved online, and stop in to see the good work they are doing at your local branch! As they say I’m sure you will find many ways to have a good time at the YMCA.
Story By: Morgan Messick, Mission Advancement Communications & Grants Manager