The East Boston YMCA on Bremen Street has been busy all through the COVID-19 pandemic as a neighborhood food distribution site for families and a free emergency day care provider for essential workers.
As the state’s phased COVID reopening plan began earlier this summer things at the Eastie Y have been slowly returning back to normal with some restrictions.
As summer programs began, the Eastie Y provided summer day care for youth with limited capacity and strictly enforced rules and regulations.
Recently another part of the Eastie Y’s operations made a comeback.
The East Boston YMCA reopened its fitness portion of their operation to members at a reduced capacity.
“If this pandemic has shown us anything, it is that East Boston is a strong community,” said the Eastie Y’s Executive Director Joe Gaeta. “It has been 5 months and the community continues to pull together in its time of need. To this date, the Y has served over 250,000 meals, 3,000 produce bags and 6,000 plus hours of emergency childcare for children. The last missing part was the health and wellness portion of the Y’s mission.”
Under Governor Baker’s phased plan, gyms were allowed to reopen in Phase 3 starting July 13.
Gaeta said the Eastie Y took its time to make sure all areas of safety were met before opening their doors.
“Our gym is very safe,” said Gaeta. “The Y has taken measures that either meet or exceed the guidelines issued by the State. Each machine is spaced 14 feet apart and all group exercise classes are held outside. We have a brand new reservation system where members secure space for 45 minutes and are in their own areas while working out, this allows for targeted cleaning of the equipment after each usage every hour on the hour.”
Extra sanitation stations, advanced chemicals and shields are part of the Eastie Y’s plan to keep members safe while on their fitness journey.
Gaeta said members who have returned have been very receptive to the new guidelines and excited about the new levels or precautions that the Y has labeled “Safe for you, Safe for us.” For each entry, members must take a virtual pre-screen before arrival and temperature check to enter the facility, and masks are to be worn throughout their visit.
“Just because the gym side is open does not mean the Y has stopped its other areas of focus,” said Gaeta. “The gym side opens at 1pm for members so that the Y can still be a beacon of food service for the community. We are still giving out grab and go meals and pantry bags at our Bremen Street and Ashley Street locations.”
Gaeta said grab and go service is Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-12 p.m. at Bremen Street and 10am-2pm at Ashley Street. The Y is also still running its childcare center and summer camp at reduced capacities in line with the Department of Public Health.
“We have been very, very busy here at the Y, but we can see the difference we are making in East Boston” said Gaeta. “All of this work cannot be done without the generous support of members who opted to keep their memberships drafting while our gym and programs were on hold, their continued support is what keeps us serving the community.”
Donations can still be made to the YMCA to help with their community efforts. Please contact Joe Gaeta at 617-418-8320 or [email protected] for more information.