United Way presents YMCA helps change the way you see the world

Published 5:15 am Saturday, February 12, 2022

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(Editor’s Note: This is part 20 of a 22-part series on the partners of United Way of Orange County.)

YMCA offers programs to help build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all. They also offer youth development and social responsibility.

YMCA offers more than swimming lessons and First Aid training. It also offers youth an opportunity to understand the inner workings of government by participating in roles from Senator to Lobbyist to help understand the legislative process while developing critical thinking and analytical abilities.

“Beyond those mainstay programs the YMCA is known for – childcare, swim lessons, sports – we also have civic programs like Youth in Government and Model UN, we are expanding opportunities in outdoor education, and many of our fitness programs can go ‘on the road’,” Kevin Pearson, executive director of the YMCA of Southeast Texas, said.

Currently it offers the YMCA Afterschool at Little Cypress Elementary, Summer Day Camp at North Orange Baptist Church, Y-Reads and STEM activities during the school year and summertime.

“In the past we have also provided afterschool at other school districts and youth sports in Orange County,” Pearson said. “Additionally, many Orange County residents come to the YMCA in Port Arthur for programs and are members of the YMCA facility.”

The YMCA of Southeast Texas has been partnered with the United Way of Orange County, Texas since 2014 and has an impact on the organization.

“This is a fantastic partnership!” Pearson said. “Both the funding and the relationships garnered by being part of the United Way have provided opportunities for the YMCA to serve the citizens of Orange County.”

While the location for the organization is outside of Orange County, its presence is felt.

“Beyond just the programs we regularly offer, the YMCA has also stayed active in the community at special events and we were there to help clean up after Hurricane Laura,” Pearson said.

Y Reads with You began in the fall of 2010 through an opportunity presented by United Way of Mid and South Jefferson County. United Way requested a proposal for funding to start a literacy program in the Jefferson County area to help school districts who would benefit from additional academic resources and assist with reducing the drop-out rate in the state of Texas, according to the website.

For the last 3 years, the Y has added a reading software program called Achieve 3000. This program has assisted with parent involvement and allows students to continue practicing at home. The program helps the YMCA track student progress and helps identify what areas the Y needs to focus on with individual students.

COVID affected the number of people utilizing the services the organization has to offer.

“Pre-pandemic we served over 600 people in Orange County each year through programs and membership,” Pearson said. “Currently we are back up to over 350 kids and adults served through programs, membership, and volunteering.”

Without grants from United Way, the programs the YMCA offers would be limited.

“United Way funds help us to keep fees low for working parents, provide flexibility for us as we design and deliver programs,” Pearson said. “Just as important, the United Way connects the YMCA to corporate partners, to community leaders, and to those in need.  Without the United Way, the ability to connect all of the dots and serve would be far more difficult to achieve.”

The YMCA is also seeking schools to partner with to provide afterschool programming

“The out-of-school time is an important period for engagement of healthy, positive activities for kids,” Pearson said.

To learn more about what the YMCA has to offer, visit www.ymcasetx.org/ or call 409-962-6644

To make a donation to United Way of Orange County, visit https://tinyurl.com/mvb46fy7