Family YMCA of the Desert received a $25,000 grant from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. Although much of the Y’s regular programming is suspended during the pandemic, the nonprofit organization reacted quickly to serve the community by opening childcare for essential workers in April. Since then, full-day childcare is offered at several locations throughout the valley for all families.
“It feels good to be part of the solution,” said Paula Simonds, Family YMCA of the Desert CEO. “The Y has always been dedicated to building healthy, confident, connected, and secure children, so when the pandemic struck our area, our staff and board pivoted quickly. After intense research, we put safety protocols in place in order to continue providing services to our community.”
Family YMCA of the Desert started operations in 1982, and through the years its programs have grown. Before the pandemic, the Y was serving more than 3500 children at 37 sites. Today, the organization is providing full-day childcare and school work assistance to about 80 kids at three locations: the YMCA on San Pablo, Carter Elementary School and the La Quinta Museum. There are still some openings at these locations, where the state requires face coverings, social distancing and a ratio of 2 adults for every 14 children. Once capacity is reached at the Y’s three locations, the nonprofit has an option to offer services at Westfield Palm Desert for 30 more school-aged kids. Family YMCA of the Desert also operates three preschools in Palm Desert, La Quinta and Indio, now serving about 100 kids ages 0-5, with a few openings still available.
“Family YMCA of the Desert identified community needs and responded to them. We sincerely appreciate that,” said Catharine Reed, Vice President of Charitable Programs for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation.
Family YMCA of the Desert submitted the Coachella Valley Spotlight grant application last September, when all programs were running at or near capacity. The nonprofit requested funds to purchase a van to transport children to afterschool programs and on field trips during summer day camp. Anticipating the return of regular programming in 2021, the Y still plans to use the grant funds to replace an inoperative van with an eight-passenger van negotiated with a Coachella Valley dealership.
“Family YMCA of the Desert has served our community for decades, and even in a pandemic they have found ways to support families by providing a safe place for children to go while most schools are closed,” said Jerry Upham, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates KESQ News Channel 3 and KPSP CBS Local 2. “And, when the Y is allowed to offer its many wonderful regular programs, they’ll be ready with a new van!”
Through the Coachella Valley Spotlight partnership with the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation and News Channel 3, Family YMCA of the Desert was featured on News Channel 3 programming, in public service announcements and on kesq.com throughout October. The Family YMCA of the Desert corporate office is located at 43930 San Pablo Ave., Palm Desert. For more information about the organization go to www.ymcaofthedesert.org or call 760-341-9622.