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Greater Rochester YMCA uses ARPA funds to continue community outreach for neighborhoods in need

Max Schulte
WXXI News file photo
Britian Tinsdale spends most days playing basketball at the YMCA Center for Equity on Lewis Street.

The Monroe County Legislature recently signed off on County Executive Adam Bello's wish list for the county's $98 million share of American Rescue Plan Act funds.

The 40 projects and programs that are now in line to get the funding have an emphasis on public health and safety, workforce development and infrastructure.

The YMCA of Greater Rochester will receive $2 million for its neighborhood resource centers. There are currently two, one at the Lewis Street YMCA in the Marketview Heights neighborhood and the other at the Thurston Road YMCA in the 19th Ward.

In the new year, a third center will be added at the Maplewood Family YMCA.

Lewis Street Community Listening Session.jpg
photo provided
Residents of Rochester's Marketview Heights neighborhood meet with representatives of the YMCA of Greater Rochester for a listening session.

The centers' services range from health and wellness classes to food distribution, workforce development and more. Each center was developed with input from the communities they serve. For instance, families can go to the Lewis Street YMCA for UR Medicine pediatric telemedicine visits.

"They actually schedule patients to come to Lewis Street instead of having them travel all the way to Strong," said Jessica Kingsley, the Y's executive director of community services. "They actually have many, many patients, according to their records, within that immediate neighborhood."

The Lewis Street Neighborhood Center opened in September 2020. It was initially a child care center, and then it served as a remote learning center when city schools were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Thurston Road Neighborhood Center opened in May 2022. That YMCA branch is also still a health and wellness operation. The Maplewood branch will remain a full-service YMCA with a gymnasium and pool once its neighborhood center opens in 2023.

Kingsley said the ARPA funding will keep the centers operating for another four years as the YMCA looks for other sustainable funding sources.

"We're able to go back to our communities that have been waiting and give them a little bit of a different hope, especially for the holidays," she said. "So, instead of starting a service and then having to stop because we don't have the funding to continue, that's not going to be the case here."

According to Kinsley, community meetings will continue in each of the neighborhoods where the centers are located to ensure that the services being offered are aligned with people's needs.

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.