By MEGAN HUSSEY
Thanks to a grant from a major, locally based company, YMCA of the Suncoast–serving Hernando, Pasco and Pinellas and Citrus counties–will be able to spread more sunshine among area young people.
Beth Gettig, Vice President of Youth Development for the YMCA of the Suncoast, has seen far more than academic and enrichment activities take place in the agency’s before and after school programs. She sees magic.
“Recently we had a nonverbal student who, at the end of the day, turned around and told the staff, ‘I love you,'” she said.
This program that supports children through a daily schedule of enrichment activities like homework time, crafts, games, sports programs, STEM activities and other creative activities itself received some valuable support, via the $1,000 grant just received from Zephyrhills® Natural Springwater.
The grant is part of Zephyrhills® Brand 100 percent Natural Spring Water’s Zephyrhills Brand Feel-Good Movement to award local Florida organizations $1,000 grants “to help support them during these trying times.”
“In total, Zephyrhills® Natural Springwater will be donating $122,000 in Good News Grants to more than 100 local organizations,” read a related news release, “102 different organizations will receive $1,000, along with two $10,000 sustainability grants to organizations helping to sustain the Florida we know and love.”
Among grant recipients was the YMCA of the Suncoast.
“YMCA of the Suncoast is dedicated to creating programs that build a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all,” the news release read. “The grant will be used to help The Y expand their financial assistance program and impact more families. This donation will go a long way to help continue their mission during the Coronavirus pandemic.”
Gettig said that the agency is “fortunate” to receive this grant, which she says will support the 430 children served by its before and after school programs, hosted at local elementary, middle, and high schools.
The program’s activities emphasize fun and active learning patterned after subjects taught in school. If students are learning about volcanos in school, for example, they might get the opportunity to create a model volcano in the before and after school program.
“Our program is high quality, affordable, and convenient,” she explained. “This is part of our mission to be a family-centered organization to support the health and development of these children. And sometimes the children say that they’re having so much fun, they don’t want to go home.”
Although the program carries an admission fee of $57 per week, no child is turned away from YMCA before and after school programs because of the inability to pay.
“Thanks to grants like this one from Zephyrhills Water, we can help more families at this time, that need it the most,” said Gettig. “We strive to help, one child at a time.”
Send your good news notices to community reporter Megan Hussey at [email protected]. Show us your ‘Sun’shine!