The Ocean County YMCA in Toms River is marking its 50th anniversary serving the Ocean County
community with the release of a special anniversary logo that was created by Manasquan-based marketing firm Design 446, and upcoming anniversary gala. “Membership at the Y encompasses all ages,” said Michael P. Ritacco, Board of Directors Chair of the Ocean County YMCA. “Family and older adult members have the opportunity to increase their physical activity, enjoy social interaction, and learn healthy lifestyle skills.”
Proudly serving the Ocean County community, the Y is guided by four core values: Caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. “It is a good time in our history, and we are celebrating all-time record numbers of kids in both child care and summer camp,” said Peter Rosario, President and CEO of the Ocean County YMCA. “We will continue to work every day to advance our cause and strengthen the community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.”
The Ocean County YMCA is in the midst of its new strategic planning process, which is expected to be unveiled early this summer.
- 55,000 Square Foot Facility
- 12 Lane Pool - 25 yards, 4'-9' deep
- 6,800 sq. ft. functional wellness arena
- Cardiovascular Center - includes treadmills, bicycles, elliptical, cross trainers and rowers
- Child Watch Room
- Adult Locker Rooms – upstairs for 18+ and feature day lockers and showers
- Family Locker Rooms – For youth 17 and younger or adults with a child that include day lockers, showers, mixed and same gender changing areas
- 12 Lane Locker Rooms – Same gender for youth and adults with day lockers and showers
Five volunteers who saw the need for a healthy recreational program in the community founded the Toms River Family YMCA. Our YMCA began out of an office space with approximately 500 members.
As community needs grew, a Board of thirty supported acquiring land and building a facility with a pool that opened on West Whitty Road.
As our building, pool space, outreach and school-based programs grew, we were renamed the Ocean County YMCA.
The YMCA opened its 12-lane Aquatic Center, which is home to YMCA’s 300-member OCY Tiger Sharks Swim Team, hosts 7 local high schools swim teams, and hold several county, regional, and state-wide Championship Meets.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awards the Ocean County YMCA a 4-year $200,000 grant for the Toms River Family Health and Support Coalition. The YMCA and the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation serve as Co-Directors of the Coalition.
STANDING STRONG… Stay Safe and Connected
Even though our doors have been closed since March 16th, we have been hard at work in the community serving Crisis Relief Boxes, Grab N’ Go Lunches, implementing virtual programming and homework assistance, making reassurance calls to Y family members and providing social outreach.
“Since the start of this pandemic, our promise to you and your family has always been to not let social distancing become social isolation,” said Peter T. Rosario, President and CEO of the Ocean County YMCA. “We have since served thousands of meals, offered critical virtual content for people of all ages, increased telephone outreach initiatives to protect our most vulnerable members, implemented online learning opportunities and remained connected with our followers on social media”.
Feeding the Community... Empowering our Kids
The Y, in partnership with Toms River Regional Schools, is working to fill that gap by keeping children healthy and well-nourished this summer, ensuring that kids reach their full potential. Approximately 5,000 children receive meals from the National School Lunch Program. The Ocean County YMCA will be serving Grab N’ Go meals Monday through Friday from 11am-1pm until the end of August. Participating youth receive nutritious lunches and snacks daily. This program is the first of its kind in Toms River and is being operated in partnership with the Capital Area YMCA, which is currently providing 2,100 meals daily to residents of the greater Trenton community. “Hunger has a lasting impact on the development of children,” said Rosario. “From the first days of this crisis, we have partnered with Fulfill by packing food boxes at the BEAT Center and distributing Crisis Relief Food Boxes at the Y. Giving kids’ access to nutrition-filled meals allows them to focus, learn and become empowered to reach their full potential. The Y’s Summer Meals Program is a monumental next step in our efforts to combat hunger”.
Virtual Programming & Social Outreach
At the onset of the pandemic, the Ocean County YMCA quickly transitioned over to virtual programming for its many in-studio classes. “From fitness and yoga to meditation, we wanted to make sure the community still had access to all the great programs we offer at the YMCA,” said Rosario. “In addition to our weekly classes, we also offer weekly moments of encouragement on our Facebook page that has been really well received”.
The Ocean County YMCA’s Book Club and Crochet Club also continue to meet virtually. The Book Club has even welcomed New York Times best-selling author Amy Stewart as a special virtual guest. “It is so wonderful to see the community step up during times like this to help bring positive light to others,” said Andrea Amante, Program Coordinator.
Speaking of bringing positivity and joy to others, the Crochet Club has been able to do just that by taking in important social initiatives during this time such as “CLICK for Babies: Crochet a Cap, Help Save an Infant” organized by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. Ladies in our Crochet Club crocheted caps in all shades of purple that were distributed to new parents, along with a video and booklet about Shaken Baby Syndrome. The group also participated in the “Hooked on Crochet” initiative during Dr. Martin Luther King Week of Service by crocheting nests for the millions of displaced and injured birds being rescued and rehabilitated as a result of the wildfires in Australia.
Reassurance Calls & Homework Assistance
Since the very beginning of the shutdown, the Ocean County YMCA was able to keep the lines of communication open with our members to see how they were doing and if we could help them in any way. “From families with children to our senior population, we wanted to check-in with them through these reassurance phone calls to see if everyone was okay,” said JoAnn Kermick, Membership Director at the Y. “To date, we have made over 2,500 phone calls, and, for many of our members, we were one of the only people they spoke to that day.”
Another area that the Ocean County YMCA felt passionate about was homeschooling. “After seeing the burden that homeschooling had on so many families in our area, the Ocean County YMCA stepped into help,” said Jennifer Friedhoff, Senior Youth Development Director. “Our Y Kids Counselors were able to Zoom with students in our Y Kids program to help them with their homework. These 30-45-minute sessions really helped to alleviate the pressure of so many parents.”
Summer Camp at the Y
Registration for our Summer Camp program is ongoing and has been overwhelmingly popular. While camp will be different this year, the Y will provide a welcoming environment for campers to express themselves, try new activities, learn new skills, be creative, make lasting friendships and have a great time! All social distancing guidelines and CDC recommendations will be enforced.
The Y will Remain Closed for All Day Childcare during Virtual Learning
The Ocean County YMCA has announced its membership facility and programs will remain closed throughout the remainder of 2020 as the YMCA transitions to provide on-site childcare and remote learning support for the upcoming school year.
“The Ocean County YMCA has served the county for 50 years, during which we have made it through many challenging times together, none perhaps as impactful for our community and our Y as COVID-19,” said Peter T. Rosario, President and CEO of the Ocean County YMCA. “While we had hoped to reopen the Y to our community this summer, the ongoing concerns around COVID-19 and the pressing need for children to have a safe space to learn and grow during the upcoming school year, have required us to shift our focus and keep our facility closed for the remainder of the year.” With the announcement by several local school districts that schools will be run on a hybrid schedule of virtual and in-person learning this fall, the Y, which typically offers before- and after-school care to children in schools, will now be opening its facility during school hours to provide children space where they can attend virtual classes while supervised by Y staff. The Y will also be working closely with the local health department and following all CDC recommendations for social distancing and cleaning protocols. “As an organization dedicated to youth development, we know how important it is that our children have a safe and enriching environment for learning. With schools remaining partially closed this fall, we are restructuring our facility to provide that environment to children, while also providing essential child care to those parents who need to return to work,” said Rosario. “As always, we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that we remain sensitive of the health and well-being of all populations that the Y serves.”