YMCA Helps The Community During The Pandemic


Morgan Slusser, Reporter

The Rockbridge Area YMCA has been up and running for over 15 years, striving to meet the needs of the community. Within the past year that has looked different due to the global pandemic, but that has not stopped Bobbie Wagner, Rockbridge Area YMCA executive director, and other hardworking employees from going above and beyond to help the community in as many ways as possible. 

“The Y shut its doors on March 22, 2020 and was closed for a total of 2 months and 22 days,” says Wagner. 

During that duration, the YMCA never stopped working. There was a large need for childcare workers in the community, so the YMCA launched Camp Hope. Camp Hope watched frontline workers’ kids from Monday through Friday during those hard times. The YMCA  also offered free wellness videos on their website, senior welcome checks, and grocery delivery for local seniors, all in the heat of a global pandemic. 

On June 8, the YMCA reopened up their doors for members and implemented mask requirements, hired constant cleaning staff, and enforced social distancing. 

In June of 2020, the YMCA opened summer camp and met the needs of nearly 50 children in Rockbridge County, from Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

“When summer came to an end, and schools announced the plan of virtual learning, we knew that we needed a way of helping students get through that,” stated Wagner, “After lots of planning and help from community partners, we were able to launch two enrichment centers in September.”

Enrichment center counselors work Monday through Friday, not only helping, but teaching students and navigating them through virtual learning. Since September, six more centers have opened. Community partners have opened their doors to the Y allowing these six centers to be up and running. There are enrichment centers at Grace Presbyterian Church, The Gin Hotel, Lylburn Downing Middle, Central Elementary, Waddell Elementary, and even Salernos. 

Over the Holidays, The Rockbridge Area Y started a preschool from scratch in less that 30 days. 

“The preschool doors opened January 4 at a max capacity of 20 kids at only 10 dollars a week. We’ve been open for 2 months, and there is currently a waiting list. None of this would be possible without an amazing childcare team who cares for our families and kids,” said Wagner. 

The Y continues to adapt to the needs of the community through health and wellness programming and childcare services.