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Across the country, community rec centers are trying to come up with ways to give back to their communities during the coronavirus pandemic. The Old Colony YMCA, with seven locations throughout Massachusetts, had to think outside the box.

“Like most other Ys in the country, our typical operations have been suspended or reduced, so we can’t serve the community in the ways we’re accustomed to,” said Michael Ricci, the vice president of communications for the Old Colony Y. “We had to think a little differently and get creative.”

The leadership teams at all seven branches put their heads together to think of ways they could give back to their community. The result? Offering first responders and healthcare professionals two free months of membership once the branches are able to re-open.

“This was just a small way to express our appreciation for the people taking care of us, our families and our friends every day,” said Ricci.

The response to this service has gone over well in the community, with more than 350 people have filled out the online contact form. “What’s great is this offer is for future members as well as current members, many of whom are working on the front lines during this crisis,” said Ricci. “So, whether you’re new or you’ve been part of our Y family for a while, we have the chance to say thanks.”

Once the facilities are open, first responders and healthcare professionals can simply visit any of their locations within 30 days and show a workplace badge, ID or a letter confirming employment.

If your facility is struggling to think of a way to repay first responders and healthcare professionals, Ricci said to keep it simple and not overthink it.

“First responders and healthcare professionals have a lot on their minds right now, and their lives have become very complicated both professionally and personally,” said Ricci. “We wanted to make this as easy as possible. It’s probably difficult for these workers to think even a few weeks or months into the future, so we don’t want to add any additional burden or unnecessary steps. Ys have a lot to offer and we should try to give people as much equitable access as possible.”

Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is the assistant editor of Community Rec Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com.

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