The McGaw YMCA is continuing to make an impact in the Evanston community even amidst the challenges of the pandemic. Their programs support individuals and members of the community through housing and other various necessities .
Their second Mission Impact Series virtual event, “At Home at 1000 Grove,” hosted on March 4th focused on McGaw YMCA’s Men’s Residence Program, its Resident Members, life during Covid-19 and the vision for its future.
Second Mission Impact Series March 4 Featured the Men’s Residence Program
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As part of its wrap-around services, the McGaw YMCA’s Residence Program focused on three main touchpoints: housing, health & wellness, and employment services. This includes support for housing – both within the residence program and outside of McGaw, referrals for healthcare and holistic wellbeing support, and support in helping residents find and keep employment in the community.
For resident Antoine Williams, the employment services provided through the residence program led to him securing a full-time position at McGaw as a member relations employee. In addition to living and working at the YMCA, Williams noted that the McGaw residence staff has done a good job of creating safe space for everyone.
“Especially now with our current residence staff – they create connections with the men,” Williams said. “The Men’s Residence department at McGaw has also been good about supporting staff and residents within the program to keep the environment safe for all.”
Support During Covid-19
These services that were already pillars of the residence program became even more important during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our residence were struggling with unemployment in higher numbers ever before. 1/3 of the residence required scholarship to be able to pay their rent.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the McGaw YMCA and the larger Evanston community have rallied around the Men’s Residence program to help ensure the men in the program feel safe and supported in their shared housing environment.
After the state shut down in March 2020, the residence program suspended the application process for new residents to maintain a bubble around the congregant living community. McGaw Residence staff focused on responding to current resident’s physical needs, such as providing food, personal hygiene products, face masks and increasing sanitization of spaces. Local restaurants donated food, businesses and local creators donated masks, and during the holidays, a group of volunteers delivered more than 160 gift baskets with hats, scarves and other supplies to residents.
Individual donations and grants have helped underwrite fresh food for the pantry, emergency rent relief and additional cleaning services and supplies. In total, over $200,000 in philanthropic relief helped support the Men’s Residence Program during the uncertainty of Covi-19.
McGaw Residence staff have also focused on meeting the residents’ health and wellbeing needs. Residents and staff were offered Covid-19 vaccinations by through a partnership between the McGaw Y and the City of Evanston Health Department, and the Residence team has been conducting one-on-one wellness checks to help reinforce the importance of mental health. Roland Fouché, Senior Director of Residence emphasized the importance of keeping up with the residents’ mental wellbeing, especially during the pandemic, and said the Residence team has been intentional about creating fun activities and leadership opportunities for residents.
In the months ahead, the McGaw YMCA Men’s Residence program will continue to evolve its goals for housing, wellbeing, employment supports to adapt to the needs of the Evanston community. McGaw recently hired a New Resident Case Manager, Feythia Idris, to address the individual needs of Resident members and help build community.
There are also plans to improve the physical space for the residence program, starting with construction to expand the social space on the ground level in 2021, followed by renovations to the living space. Thomas F. & Susan P. Moran Family Foundation have underwritten the development phase of the renovation project and were preparing to launch the fundraising effort in March 2020. Lessons learned through the pandemic have fine-tuned the vision and McGaw YMCA will start sharing details about the project scope to formally launch the fundraising effort in spring 2021.
According to Williams, “I hope in the future, the outside world sees what the Men’s Residence program truly is. And that they understand that it’s a bigger piece of the puzzle for people who need it.”’
The March 4 Mission Impact Series will include a video tour of the residence, interviews with Resident members, McGaw YMCA leadership and a live panel conversation with the community featuring Nicole Woodard, Chief Operating Officer, McGaw YMCA; Roland Fouché, Sr. Director of Residence/Housing; Allie Payne, Advancement Committee Member and Board Member; Peter Morris, Finance Committee Member and former Board Chair. The conversation will be facilitated by Jodi Wickersheimer, Chief Development Officer.
The Lead Sponsors for the Mission Impact Series are Ann and Russ Covode, The Thomas F. & Susan P. Moran Family Foundation, the Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation and Northwestern University.
We are grateful to the individuals and organizations who are sponsoring the Mission Impact Series, particularly Better Media who issued a 1:1 challenge grant for all donations up to $10,000! With your support, McGaw YMCA can continue to fill the community needs around education, housing and community health.
Consider making a gift to McGaw YMCA today and double your dollars. Every contribution, at every level, makes a difference.
ABOUT THE MCGAW YMCA
The McGaw YMCA is a cause-driven, charitable organization at the heart of Evanston. Over the course of its history, the McGaw Y has touched every facet of the community with its commitment to youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. It continues to promote growth in spirit, mind and body though programs and services for all people, from all walks of life.
The McGaw Y is headquartered at 1000 Grove Street which houses its comprehensive Fitness Center with two pools, the MetaMedia digital lab and maker space for youth, and the long-standing men’s residence. Additionally, the McGaw Y offers programs and services at The Children’s Center, 1420 Maple Avenue, Family Focus Center, 2010 Dewey Avenue, and Camp Echo in Fremont, Michigan. The McGaw Y continues to serve an estimated 20,000 people in the community and welcomes hundreds of members through its doors each day. For more information visit www.mcgawymca.org.