When schools and child care facilities started closing, a lot of parents were able to stay at home with their kids. But what about essential workers? Where do their children go when they’re needed at work now more than ever?
“Our charge was to take care of the kids and ensure that there were options for the working parents so that they could go serve our community and do their job and their kids can be in a safe environment while having fun while parents had to work,” explained Andrea Stevenson, the CEO of the Gallatin Valley YMCA .
For the past five weeks, the Gallatin Valley YMCA has been hosting an emergency care camp for children of essential workers.
“They sense stress. They sense unhappiness, uneasiness, and I think this program has been a Godsend for them because it’s been consistency for them. It’s been people who nurture and care for them everyday,” Stevenson explained.
And the program has been just as rewarding for the staff as it’s been for the children.
“In a time of sadness, we get to see these kids laughing and having fun and having an enriching day, and it is the most fulfilling thing that you can do,” she said.
And the parents never have to worry about the cost of the camp because of partnerships with organizations like the Greater Gallatin United Way, who have a lot of confidence in community support.
“We know the need is only going to increase with parents going back to work in the next week or two and so our question for the community right now is, can we stand together, pitch in financially, pitch in and help each other out with making these child care programs available to all kinds of families,” said Danica Jamison, the CEO for the Greater Gallatin United Way.
And for both nonprofits, it’s all about the community.
“Regardless of whether anyone has a child or not, we’re seeing how taking care of children in our community, taking care of parents in our community affects all of us,” Jamison explained.
Many physical locations remain closed, but the heart of the Gallatin County community remains alive and open.