June 2, 2020

Chamber and YMCA Team Up to Keep Seniors Engaged

In March, the YMCA’s CEO identified an immediate need to connect senior members of the organization, and assist them with maintaining social interactions, during the COVID-19 pandemic and Ohio stay-at home order. Considering the limitations caused by advanced age and the demand for elders to remain independently functional, the program’s mission was to advocate and improve the quality of life for YMCA members. “Our Seniors. Our Priority” was initially designed to ensure those who are retired, elderly, disabled and/or vulnerable had adequate supplies of food and water and could retrieve their prescribed medicine.

Contacting the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, the current C-Change class teamed up with the Central Parkway YMCA (The Y) in this effort. The Y and Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and current C-Change Class 15 worked collaboratively to leverage 65 volunteers from leadership program (like Cincy Next) alumni. These individuals volunteered and built relationships with senior “buddies” via weekly check-ins and enable seniors to connect via social platforms and YMCA programs. 

The volunteer functions centered around digital engagement supported the overall goal of keeping seniors connected despite potential isolation and distance. Over 65 volunteers performed wellness checks, email support, social media management help and mobile phone assistance. This group made 415 calls to seniors, contributing to the impressive overall YMCA’s 5,217 calls. Volunteers provided connections to help stop evictions, provide access to food, deliver Easter dinner, and simply lend a kind voice on the other end of the phone. 

Israel Escamilla of P&G, branch board chair of the Central Parkway Y and C-Change Class 15 member, shared “The opportunity to step up and serve during this critical time has been a special one; it especially hits close to home as I think of my elderly loved ones who live in other parts of the country.”

Some community professionals served as both volunteers and recruiters and found personal inspiration from partaking in the program. Julie Kist, C-Change Class 15, of Wealth Dimensions said “I found a lot of solace in the opportunity to serve my community as a recruiter and volunteer for the YMCA’s Seniors Outreach program amid the unprecedented crisis. Although the conversations were short, it was uplifting to hear the joy radiate through the phone”.

 Many of the volunteers were personally affected by the pandemic and participating in the program allowed them to reflect and contribute. Bob Horstman, C-Change Class 15, of RSM US LLP shared “I was inspired to reach out to a group of members with the YMCA as a result of thinking of my own family.  My mom lives alone about 2.5 hours away as does my 90-year-old grandma.  I’ve been able to Facetime or stay connected with both of them, but it got me thinking about people that may not have that ability or family to fall back on in this time of isolation, so I wanted them to know someone cares.”

If you are interested in volunteering or for more information visit MyY.org. Want to know more about Cincinnati USA Regional Leadership Programs? Contact Andrea Mersmann at amersmann@cincinnatichamber.com

 Article by: LeAnne Armstead, The Kroger Co., C-Change Class 15

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