YMCA provides childcare for essential workers

Emergency Pop-Up Camp helps parents during COVID-19 outbreak.
YMCA Emergency Pop Up Camp. Photo courtesy of YMCA.
YMCA Pop Up Camp. Photo courtesy of YMCA.

In response to the shelter-in-place order and COVID-19 pandemic, The YMCA of San Benito County has started an Emergency Pop-Up Camp to accommodate the childcare needs of parents considered essential workers and have no other childcare options. The camp is located at the Y’s facility at 351 Tres Pinos Road in Hollister.

“We want to help support our medical personnel, first responders, grocery store, county, city, restaurant employees and all those who have no other option for safe and nurturing childcare,” said Mayra Zendejas, YMCA of San Benito County executive director.

Following San Benito County Public Health Services’ recommendations and standards, the camp will have limited capacity and increased cleaning/disinfecting schedules. Besides YMCA employees, parents and other adults won’t be allowed inside the facility during program hours.

Crystal Canchola, senior program director, told BenitoLink that the kids all come together at 9 a.m. and do a relationship-building activity, followed by a snack before getting to academics. At 11 a.m. the kids have a health and fitness class for 45 minutes, then arts and crafts followed by lunch. After lunch, the kids pick back up on academic studies.

Staying indoors can be difficult for the kids. Canchola said that a “can we please go outside” plea on March 23 led to the group walking around the empty parking lot and drawing chalk art on the sidewalk.

While the YMCA camp is not free, there are financial assistance scholarships available for families in need of support. The camp costs $35 a day and the scholarship program pays up to 50% of that cost. 

“We are here for the community,” said Canchola.

The YMCA Emergency Pop-Up Camp is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Drop-off is from 7:30 to 9 a.m. For more information or to enroll in the camp, call (831) 637-8600.



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Carmel de Bertaut

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College. She reports on science and the environment, arts and human interest pieces. Carmel has worked in the ecological and communication fields and is an avid creative writer and hiker. She has been reporting for BenitoLink since May, 2018 and covers Science and the Environment and Arts and Culture.