BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — As soon as the Battle Creek Family YMCA closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, the staff shifted their focus to providing community services, said CEO Jill Hinde.
They closed all of their services, from the fitness center to yoga classes, she said.
However, they kept their daycare open and limited it to children of parents who are working on the frontlines.
“Under the governor’s order it’s for essential workers. So, it’s workers for the city of Battle Creek and then we also have Bronson Battle Creek workers. Bronson is just a mile down the road,” Hinde said during an interview with FOX 17. “We’re really glad to be able to help those frontline healthcare workers and also the essential service workers for Battle Creek.”
It’s called the Emergency Relief Day Camps and it’s grown to 47 kids, she said
The kids were in small groups and in different rooms when FOX 17 visited on Tuesday afternoon. A handful of kids were sleeping in one room, a few others were playing basketball in the gym, while others were reading children’s books at a table.
“They do art,” Hinde said. “It’s nice to have a big Y facility so they do a lot of physical activity. I think they’re doing Spanish lessons right now.”
However, before each child and adult entered the building they stopped at a table near the front doors to have their health checked.
“We take everyone’s temperature. We log that,” Hinde said about their medical protocols. “We have masks and gloves, hand sanitizer, and try to mitigate the risk as much as we can.”
Parents have to pick up their children outside in the parking lot, she added.
However, parents tell them that they’re grateful for their service.
“We actually have some third-shift employees at the hospital that have care for the kids, but that bring their kids so that they can sleep during the day,” Hinde said. “So it’s really kind of serves multiple services to keep people working.”
Hinde said they’re glad to provide the daycare service and they’ll be doing it for as long as needed.
She added that the kids have been ‘resilient.' Being with them, gives the staff a chance to make their lives a little more routine amid the uncertainty of the pandemic.
“They brighten your day, just to see them,” Hinde said. “They obviously know the world is different but we try to give them as much normalcy as we can.”