United Way helps YMCA assist those in need

Editor’s note: This is the last in a series of articles about the member agencies of the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley.

PARKERSBURG – The Parkersburg YMCA never wants to turn anyone away from membership or child care due to an inability to pay, executive director Chad Smith said.

To make that goal a reality, the Y relies on the support of the community, including the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley.

The YMCA received $43,000 from the United Way in the current funding cycle, money that is split between providing assistance to families in need of child care and helping families afford memberships, Smith said.

“We couldn’t do it without the United Way’s help,” he said. “It’s a huge assistance.”

The amount of help a family receives is based on a sliding scale that takes income and other factors into consideration.

“It’s really on an individual basis,” Smith said. “Most of the time it reduces the fee drastically.

“We’ve had situations where maybe if you’re only looking at the income, they wouldn’t qualify for financial assistance,” he said.

But if someone is facing high medical bills or other hurdles, they could still use the help, and the Y tries to make that happen, Smith said.

Child care options offered by the YMCA include all-day and after-school service, as well as summer day camp.

“If we didn’t provide the assistance, and families weren’t able to afford it, a lot of the time, you would have kids going home to empty houses or getting into who knows what,” Smith said.

“In some cases, they (parents) may have to even quit their job or lose their job,” he said.

Mineral Wells resident Melody Vaught didn’t know what to do when her regular child-care provider’s license was lost and she was going through a divorce while working part-time.

Vaught made too much money to qualify for some forms of assistance, but couldn’t afford the full price of care for her daughter and son. At the same time. she was caring for her father, who had cancer.

The YMCA offered her a reduced rate, which took at least one worry off her plate.

“They gave me enough time, with the discounted pricing, to where I could get back on my feet,” Vaught said. “It helped me to have the comfort to know my kids were going to be taken care of.”

Vaught shared her experience at a recent YMCA fundraising dinner.

“I just think it’s important for people to know how it’s being spent,” she said.

Smith said it is also important to help families afford membership at the Y.

“Families want to get out and do things together; people want to get out and get healthier,” he said.

Membership at the Y leads to savings elsewhere. Group exercise classes are free, and other activities, such as swimming lessons and youth sports, are discounted for members, Smith said.