YMCA of Bucks County Staff Provide Community Resources during Pandemic
All branches of YMCA of Bucks County closed on March 14 with a plan to create an online library to help the community continue to stay healthy and active. The webpages found at ymcabucks.org/online are filled with at-home videos from Y staff, including pages aimed at supporting all age levels and topics including at-home fitness, youth physical activities, youth crafts, cooking & learning, nutrition, stress management & mindfulness, and a Women’s Book Club Zoom.
Staff immediately jumped into action, filming videos in a variety of ways. Andrew Yannarella, longtime and beloved sports director at the Doylestown branch, filmed sport technique videos in his driveway, with drills and tips for basketball dribbling and stance correction and baseball throwing techniques.
Megan McCuen, fitness instructor at the Quakertown branch, focused immediately on the senior population, filming full length versions of Y classes including Chair Movement and Movement for Life. She continues to film workouts in her home using stairs, resistance bands and utilizing outdoor spaces.
In Lower Bucks County, Angela Cloak, who oversees childcare for the entire county, mobilized teachers to create videos on a variety of topics including reading stories, science experiments, making homemade salt-dough, cooking instructionals and a hand-washing video by Miss Angela herself.
“Needs and resources for healthy living and wellness, mental health, and financial hardship are all facing our Y family” said Zane Moore, President/CEO of YMCA of Bucks County in a recent communication to Y members. “It is our goal to continue to serve during a time when social distancing is required.”
In addition to serving the community and connecting people, Y staff are finding an unexpected side-effect with the creation of online content in the involvement of their immediate families.
Cathy Spatz, a longtime Yoga instructor at the Y’s Doylestown branch was doubtful that she could speak to mindfulness in video format…until she involved Peter, her 14-year old son.
“Twenty-four hours ago I didn't think I could do anything like the video I'm sending you,” said Spatz. “But thanks to the skills of my son, here is a Mindful Minute.”
The result is a high-quality, sleek and artsy 2-minute video on morning mindfulness, using your favorite morning drink. The video can be found in the Y’s online library on the Stress Management & Mindfulness page. Spatz hopes to continue to contribute new editions to the mindfulness page often.
The library took a few days to create and promotion began recently, featuring different instructors on social media throughout the day. On Thursday, a video featuring Sandy Gatto was highlighted with longtime, weekly class attendees immediately elated and commenting via social media.
“Sandy!!!!,” reads one comment.
“Hi Sandy! Thanks so much for this!!!!” reads another.
A comment from Gatto herself reads: “For years, I have told my students that when I make my yoga video, I was going to use editing and air brushing. I wanted to be 5’4”. Well apparently, there is no editing or air brushing. I hope this brings some calm to all of us. It’s a short gentle practice.”
Gatto also narrates a video of her teenage children, fellow Y staff members, leading an outdoor workout for kids. That video can be found in the Youth & Family Activities page in the Y’s online library.
“We’re in this together,” said Trish Feinthel, chief operations officer. “Everyone is pitching in to do what we can to spread a little joy and online connection with each other.”
Passionate about the power of reading, a Women’s Book Club Zoom will be led by Feinthel herself. Bucks County women will read Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis and discuss via a March 25 Zoom meeting. Interested participants can sign up for the Zoom link, found on the Women’s Book Club page in the Y’s online library. The club already has 20 participants.
The website, located at ymcabucks.org/online will be continuously updated and is available to the entire community. YMCA of Bucks County invites all members and the greater community to join their Move. Learn. Engage. Challenge to stay active, learn new skills, and enjoy family fun activities. Details on the community challenge can be found at ymcabucks.org/BUCKSchallenge. As part of the challenge and online website launch, the Y encourages the community to post their workouts and activities online using the hashtag #BucksCountySTRONG.
“If there’s a silver lining to this situation,” said Moore. “It’s that our staff have come together in this moment of crisis, continuing to live the Y mission and serve our community with their families. I am so proud of this team.”
YMCA of Bucks County is a charitable, nonprofit organization committed to strengthening communities through membership and programs that foster youth development, healthy living and social responsibility for all. Annually, the Y serves nearly 60,600 members and participants at its five member branches, six youth education centers, and eight camp locations across Bucks County. YMCA of Bucks County provides $5 million of community impact annually in the form of financial assistance to individuals and families in need and free programming for veterans, cancer survivors, older adults and more. To learn more visit ymcabucks.org.