The area YMCA's staff wants people who have been laid off to know they can still rely on the Y, which is offering complimentary memberships to people who have lost jobs.
Scott D. Mekus, membership and marketing director, said the YMCA wants people to remember its mission of building strong children, families and communities remains constant, even in difficult economic times. Proof of those hard times is being heard often, reports YMCA Executive Director Mark G. Eckendorf.
''We want to step up, help get them back on their feet,'' Eckendorf said about why the agency is offering free memberships at both its Jamestown and Lakewood locations, where there are plenty of opportunities for those laid off to get those feet moving. Between the two facilities, aquatics, racquetball, gymnastics, nautilus, aerobics, childcare, a track, whirlpool, youth development and more are offered.
Scott Mekus, left, membership and marketing director for the YMCA, and Mark G. Eckendorf, executive director, welcome those laid off to the YMCA, where they can get temporary free memberships.
P-J photo by Sharon Turano
There will be free three-month memberships for YMCA members who have been laid off and a free one-month membership for others in the community who have lost jobs due to layoffs. The YMCA also offers those laid off something more, however, said Eckendorf. He said exercise provides stress relief, and, visiting others who are also using YMCA facilities offers a chance to network that could lead to new job opportunities.
''They still have to maintain a healthy lifestyle,'' said Mekus about why he would encourage those laid off to use the YMCA's facilities. Those interested can just come to the YMCA and report they have lost jobs to begin immediately using facilities, said Eckendorf. They will be asked to bring proof of the layoff into the YMCA within the month. Memberships will be extended after paperwork is approved.
Eckendorf said the agency's staff is trying to make joining easy and does not want people to feel embarrassed due to not having employment. He said the tendency for those who have been laid off is to retreat or feel sorry for themselves. Rather than do that, he said, YMCA staff want them to be able to be with others and be productive.
''We want to step up, help get them back on their feet.''
''We feel that this is important to the community,'' Mekus said. Being a United Way agency, offering the free memberships is also a way to show the example of living united, said Eckendorf.
YMCA staff are challenging other area businesses and agencies to offer free services to those laid off also.
''Maybe others will piggyback off the idea,'' said Eckendorf about other area businesses.
''There are people in need out there,'' he said.