Throughout this past summer, the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo supported families by providing fun and safe camp programs during the day. To continue its support of the community, particularly working families and school children in Kalamazoo, the YMCA worked with local organizations such as KYDNet, Bronson, and area schools to develop its school support program. “We knew that we had an audience that already wanted this,” said Jim Migliaccio, operations director and youth developer at the YMCA. “Families that we currently had for summer wanted that type of care moving forward when they were going to go virtual. They were used to our setting and how we were able to run our daily schedule.”
Available at the YMCA Maple facility and Lincoln Elementary School, YMCA staff, at a ratio of two staff to eight students, facilitate education support, organize enrichment activities, and ensure that all safety precautions are strictly adhered to. “Our kids are broken out into grade, and we’ve got staff working in different grade levels and helping them get into their classrooms, helping them with any homework assistance along the way,” said Jim. “Our job is to assist those kids to make sure that they’re able to get on and follow along and meet or exceed whatever expectations the school has.”
With the help of the dedicated staff and community partners, the program has been able to provide a sense of normalcy to students and families. “It’s really all of us putting our heads together and having a good conversation,” said Jim. “There’s going to be a time where we will be able to open up our doors and allow school support to come in or somebody to help with mental health.”
As more needs are identified, the community partners work together to adapt and best support the greater community. One area the group is currently focusing on is ensuring that underserved students have access to the programs. “We’re all running on the fly and continuing to talk about what we found in the community to help support all of our different age groups in our efforts,” said Jim.
While the future of in-person education continues to be unknown for many, the YMCA and other organizations are committed to providing support and expanding their offerings as long as the community needs. “It’s coming down to all those agencies raising their hand and saying we’ve got capacity, we’ve got space in our buildings,” said Jim. “We’re willing to do what we need to do and work on education and providing support to kids and families in our community. It takes a lot of hands and a lot of discussion for sure.”