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YMCA making plans for after-school care

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

Lori Patterson, CEO of the YMCA of Chilton County, gave the Clanton Kiwanis Club an update on the programs and plans for the fall during a recent meeting.

The YMCA is in talks with potential partners for offering a multiple location after-school program when school starts in August.

“We will start by serving 80 students on this campus,” Patterson said. “… We are in conversations with three local churches to be our overflow sites … so that once we reach that 80-person capacity, kids will have other opportunities and places to go.”

She said the format at these overflow sites would be the same as at the YMCA, including academic time, food, athletics and other extracurricular opportunities.

Safety is a major reason the YMCA offers an afters-chool program.

“In our rural community, we have so many kids that go home to an empty house if we didn’t have an after-school program,” Patterson said.

A focus is also placed on academics and helping children complete their homework, in addition to having fun.

Locations and registration should be announced soon.

Patterson also gave an update on the Lunch Box Rocks program, which provides meals to children in the community.

“That program has really grown … right now we are in the process of raising funding for a delivery van,” Patterson said.

The van would be used to deliver meals to neighborhoods where transportation limitations would prevent children from being able to come to one of the Lunch Box Rocks locations.

She said the program has been able to continue despite the COVID-19 pandemic, while following social distancing guidelines.

The YMCA had offered an essential worker camp for those who were considered essential workers when non-essential businesses were required to close.

“We started that camp with about 20 kids and then we grew,” Patterson said. “As we grew we basically transitioned into summer camp.”

Summer camp will still be offered this year in a limited capacity.

“Summer camp looks a little different this year in that we have to do some social distancing guidelines,” Patterson said.

This included sanitization measures and taking campers’ temperatures and asking questions.

The number of children that can attend has also been capped at lower than normal in an effort to follow social distancing recommendations.

The number of participants has also been limited during fitness classes to make social distancing possible.

Meeting unmet needs in the community is a driving force for the organization.

“I have a board that is very supportive and works very hard to help us meet needs in this community,” Patterson said. “they do a good job of helping us seek funding, as we are a nonprofit.”

She thanked Kiwanis for its support and said the YMCA is grateful to all of the community organizations that support the Y.