“What did I get myself into?” I asked myself after being employed as the School Age Director for the Southington YMCA for only three months. That night I sat down after putting my girls to bed and thought about my “why.” Why did I take this job? Previous to this job, I was a stay at home mom to my two beautiful little girls.
After only a few minutes of thinking, I had a huge smile on my face. All I could think about was the amazing counselors that work the Before and Aftercare programs. I thought about all I had seen in the past month; outdoor activities, scavenger hunts, science experiments, talent shows, STEM programs, staff teaching salsa lessons, and Hawaiian-themed parties, just to name a few. The next morning I came into work and saw the email below in my Inbox.
“This is my son’s fourth year attending the YMCA Before and Aftercare program. I am writing to let you know how much my son loves this program, how the team of counselors have touched his life, and what I have personally experienced as I drop off and pick him up.”
“My son is an early drop off at 6:30 a.m. At that hour in the morning, he is always welcomed and greeted. The staff takes interest in how he is doing and compliments him if he is dressed up or wearing a new shirt. Sometimes there is music playing to pep up the early birds. When I arrive to pick him up at the end of the day, he doesn’t want to leave because he is having so much fun, either in the gym or playing with the kids in the cafeteria. As a parent, that really says a lot about the program when your child doesn’t want to leave.”
“Over the years, staff members have come and gone as peoples’ lives change, but their kindness, caring, and attentiveness to the kids has not. My son has grown close to several counselors over the years. I see them as mentors for him…big brothers…big sisters…people who care…give advice…help him to understand situations…forgive others and to say “I’m sorry” if he hurts someone. I believe, because of the YMCA staff and the YMCA values, my son will be an even better person as he grows up.”
“Now picture this in your mind….You walk in to a crazy cafeteria with 40-plus kids…They are playing games, Legos, crafts….There is a staff member playing Headbandz with a group of kids and has a card stuck to his forehead…They are all laughing…Another staff member is helping with homework, and a couple of fifth graders are practicing their instruments….Some kids are having to sit because they were running and as loud and crazy as it is, there is order, there is control, and there is fun. This is what a parent wants to experience and see at the place where their child has to be because the parent has to work.”
“I am very grateful to the schools and the YMCA for working together and making this program available to the families of Southington.”
More than ever, parents work full time leaving themselves wondering what their child(ren) will be doing after the school bell rings at the end of the day. When the school day ends, our staff helps children with homework, keeps them active with games in the gym or outside, encourages their creativity with our arts and crafts, and promotes healthy living by providing healthy snacks and teaching kids about making healthy eating choices.
All of this is done while providing a fun, safe, and nurturing environment for the children with a strong emphasis on the Y’s core values of respect, responsibility, honesty, caring, and fun.
So to go back to my question, “What did I get myself into”? Well, I got myself into something great, something inspirational, and something that is bigger than just a job. I got myself into a program that can change children’s lives, a program that can make parents feel better about being at work while their children are in childcare.
I often think myself, “I can’t wait for my daughters to be in this program.” The email I received states that childcare programs are a place “where their child has to be because the parent has to work”. This is absolutely correct. However, at the Southington YMCA, the before and aftercare program is a place where children want to be.
If you should have any questions or would like more information about the School Age Program, please feel free to contact me directly at 860-426-9547 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jacquelyn Seeger, School Age Child Care Director, Southington-Cheshire Community YMCA