YMCA OF THE PRAIRIE | SERVING SOUTH-CENTRAL NEBRASKA

Community Connects to Help Families During Covid

Jessica and Jacob Lux were recent newcomers to Gothenburg when the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March.

They both work at Gothenburg Health (Jessica in patient accounts and Jacob in onsite engineering), and they have two young boys, Liam, 2; and Keagen, 9 months.

“Prior to the pandemic, we had full-time daycare with a local home-based provider,” Jessica said. “We moved here from Alliance late last year and have no family close by who could help us out with watching the kids. I was afraid I would have to quit my job to stay home with the boys.”

Jessica and Jacob Lux, Keagen and Liam

But, the hospital, the YMCA and the community partnered to help the Lux family and other hospital employees retain their jobs and serve the community during the pandemic.

In a matter of a few days, the YMCA transformed into a child-care center for hospital employees. The hospital paid the wages for the child-care workers and provided meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner if necessary).

YMCA Branch Director Julie Czochara said community members donated cribs, playpens and high chairs. The YMCA provided craft supplies, swim diapers, wipes, extra sippy cups, bibs and snacks.

“We were also given great ideas and supplies for STEM projects from the local daycare providers and the school,” she said. “It was a community effort. We would get random deliveries of pens, pencils, crayons, paints and construction paper from Amazon that were all anonymous.”

Jessica said she was impressed by how fast the YMCA transformed into a child-care center.

“When I first walked in and saw all the toys, baby swings, and craft supplies, I was shocked,” she said. “I was also impressed by the entire staff. Everyone was friendly and seemed truly happy to be there.”

The child-care team consisted mainly of YMCA regular full-time staff and part-time high-school employees, including two from Lexington.

“The staff was amazing and really held everything together,” Julie said. “There were times when we had 30 children from 3 months to 11 years old.”

Kids in the day-care had a chance to learn, play, swim and build relationships.

“Liam loved going for walks outside and getting his smiley face from the front door screeners,” Jessica said. “Keagen loves to be in the water, so I know he enjoyed being able to swim.”

Jessica said the YMCA child care helped her family tremendously.

“I had only worked at Gothenburg Health for a little under three months when the pandemic hit,” she said. “Hearing the YMCA was offering childcare, free childcare, was a huge relief!”
Julie said the entire experience was a “true blessing.”

The YMCA child care was offered from March 23 until June 26.

YMCA COVID-19 child care team from left: Brittany Farr (holding Vivianna Mendez), Landon Platter, Abraham Mendez, Jordyn Franzen, Jaycee Stupka, Liliana Sitorious, Kylie Farr, Taryn Miller and Antonia Mendez. Not pictured: Noah Converse and Carley Holbrook of Lexington.

“We really miss the kids, but we are also glad that their daycares are now open and that they are able to go back to their regular routine!”

Jessica said she is grateful to the entire YMCA staff for going above and beyond her expectations.

“The YMCA’s amazing staff put me and Jake at ease and also made our babies feel safe and loved during a very uncertain and scary time,” Jessica said. “For that, we are forever thankful.”

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