West Cook YMCA Receives Record Amount of Private Foundation, Government Grants for Program Expansions, Facility Upgrades
OAK PARK, ILL.—December 5, 2014—During recent months, the West Cook YMCA, an independent non-profit organization that serves 10 west suburban communities, has tallied up a record amount, more than $ 230,000 of program and facility grants, during the months of May to November, 2014.
“We’re most grateful to a group of private foundations and government agencies for their creative foresight in providing funds which will greatly assist the West Cook YMCA continue to advance its goals of serving people of all ages with scores of services and programs to foster healthy living, social responsibility and youth development,” said Phillip Jiménez, President and CEO.
Among the grants secured in recent months by the West Cook YMCA have been:
Westlake Health Foundation Grant for Healthy Communities Initiative
The first payment of $ 150,000 for a three-year grant totaling $ 479,000 has been received from the Westlake Health Foundation to fund a “Healthy Communities Initiative” between Westlake Hospital and the West Cook YMCA. The grant is providing free health screenings and assessments, health education and fitness and exercise programs for Proviso Township residents.
“The goal,” Jiménez explained, “is to increase awareness about chronic and preventable life-threatening diseases and to encourage residents to live more active and healthy lifestyles.”
The Westlake Health Foundation grant provides support for a full-time bilingual community outreach coordinator and other staff to conduct health education and screening programs; the cost of screenings, including laboratory analysis, reading medical images, physician reimbursement, equipment and supplies to conduct the program and to track results. And, the West Cook YMCA is providing fitness and exercise instruction, he said.
Illinois Department of Human Services Teen REACH Program Grant
A $ 52,250 grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services funded a Teen REACH program the West Cook YMCA conducted for students enrolled in the 3rd through 5th grades at three Maywood elementary schools.
The REACH program, which translates into “Responsibility, Education, Achievement, Caring and Hope,” concentrated on math, science, literacy, global education, service learning and health and fitness for the teens it served.
Single Residency Program Grants
“Another major initiative has been focused on the West Cook YMCA’s Single Residency Program, the only such offering in the Chicago metropolitan area outside of the city,” Jiménez said.
As many as 127 single men, age 18-80, reside in safe and affordable quarters on the upper floors of the Y building in Oak Park. On average, most residents stay 3-4 years, however some reside much longer and many are in need of continuing support services to address the many challenges that exist in their lives.
The program is designed to assist residents transition to healthy and productive lives. Residents are provided memberships to the Y’s fitness facilities and have access to its computer resource center.
In contrast to most other SRO programs which consume as much as one-half of residents’ monthly income, the West Cook Y is structured to provide housing to its residents who on average pay only 35 percent of their monthly income, Jiménez explained.
The Y’s SRO program has been invigorated recently by two grants:
· a $5,000 capital grant from the Manaaki Foundation assisted in providing improvements to the SRO facilities.
· a $5,000 grant from the Oak Park/River Forest Community Foundation launched a new Residential Support Program that will offer optional case management services to West Cook YMCA SRO residents
The new optional program will be a collaborative process that assesses plans, coordinates, monitors and evaluates the options/services required to meet residents’ health and human service needs. The intention is to assist residents create individual well-being plans that identify and link them to resources and services to improve their overall well-being (e.g. mental health, medical, employment, nutrition) with employability and employment being a priority, according to Jiménez.
A new full-time Resident Director, who has professional case management experience, will be added to the staff.
In addition, through the West Cook YMCA’s partnership with the West Suburban PADS program, a second Case Manager will be dedicated to actively assist residents enrolled in the PADS program transition to employment and self-sufficiency.
Senior Activities Program Grant by Russell and Josephine Kott Memorial Charitable Trust
Aided by a $15,910 grant from the Russell and Josephine Kott Memorial Charitable Trust, the West Cook YMCA’s Senior Activities program will cover continued programming.
This new grant will fund a Senior Activities Coordinator who will organize activities that complement existing senior activities such as wellness and aquatics classes for seniors as well as computer classes.
“The new initiative will bring seniors together, organize a series of field trips and offer a wider range of arts and culture programs that have proven health benefits for older adults. Members have expressed an interest in language classes, book clubs, a senior choir, exploring different cultural foods as well as service learning projects. Our goal with these efforts is to encourage and foster a sense of independence and autonomy,” said Jiménez.
Early Childhood After School Program Grant from YMCA of the USA
A $ 2,000 grant from the YMCA of the USA is earmarked to assist the West Cook YMCA’s Early Childhood and After School program.
Children enrolled in the YMCA’s early childhood program experience an environment that stresses how to be comfortable with themselves and their learning environment. The play-based program affords an age-appropriate level of cognitive development using materials and activities that children truly care about. There are no worksheets but thinking is stretched and expanded daily at the Y’s preschool program.
Older children, kindergarten through 6th grade, enrolled in the Y’s World Kids are provided an opportunity to extend their learning beyond the traditional school day. The focus is to connect locally and also with a bigger world. Children can choose to learn more about language and culture, visual and performing arts, technology, science, sports and games as well as creative writing and dance.