Y maintains community help, health focus

The YMCA of South Collier, Marco Island.

Although its doors are mostly closed, the heart of the YMCA of South Collier (Marco Y) stays open.

Open to the needs of the hungry. "We continue to partner with the Publix Stores, The Bagel Shop and Starbucks to provide bread and baked goods to impact 400 people daily," said CEO Cindy Love-Abounader. 

Volunteers pick up the goods and deliver to different locations on Marco and in East Naples.

Open to the needs of the front-lines personnel, first responders, healthcare workers and essential workers. “These heroes are on the front lines and have enough to worry about. A safe place for their children to continue to learn, play and grow shouldn’t be one of them," said Love-Abounader.

The Y provides care for school age children from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., with schoolwork assistance from staff.

Open to the needs of seniors, who might feel lonely, isolated and vulnerable. “We are committed to helping them feel connected during this scary time," said Love-Abounader. “We are calling our senior members daily to check in.”

Open to the needs of the vast majority of Y members who like to work out and adhere to the Y's “healthy living” motto. “We are also providing virtual workouts with our Y team with more information to come on that. For now, Join Stacy Witthoff at 6 a.m. on Facebook.”

Love-Abounader's overall message to Y members, Y supporters and potential new members is simply: "Stay with us."

"For more than 43 years the Y has continuously evolved to meet the changing needs of our community,” said Love-Abounader. “And today, our community is going through unprecedented challenges.

"Each year, your Y reaches more than 10,000 people across South Collier County community through programs that help everyone reach their full potential, including the diabetes prevention program, afterschool and summer camp programs, the Safety Around Water program, senior activities, and Togetherhood programs (such as the daily bread run feeding 400 people a day)."

Since the COVID-19 situation arose, Love-Abounader added, the Y shifted its focus and responded quickly as the needs in Marco changed.

“We have partnered with the Community Foundation of Collier County with Collier Comes Together Project to provide assistance to Marco workers who have been unemployed with rent and utility’s needs,” said Love-Abounader.  

"The Marco Island Chamber is also involved in helping with this assistance with a focus on helping businesses to find those needs for their workers and ensuring voices are heard. 

"For food needs, we are asking folks to support Our Daily Bread food pantry on Marco.  This work is essential to our community, and the Y is in a unique position to convene these services.

"But we cannot continue this critical mission without support. If you are a Y member and are able, please consider continuing your membership with us. Your membership dollars help us continue this important work.”

For anyone who is not a Y member, consider joining or donating today to help support our efforts. You can do so by visiting marcoymca.org or call our Welcome Team 8-12 Monday through Friday at 239-394-3144, ext. 0.  

"We are just as eager as everyone to reopen our doors, and when that time comes, we know it will be an exciting day, filled with celebration," Love-Abounader says. "Until then, we will continue to do the work that is needed to keep our children safe, our seniors connected and our community healthy. But we can’t do it alone. Many Blessings to all, and please Stay with Us."