It’s not difficult to imagine that many if not all of us, in contributing to this year’s Progress Edition, will speak of the unique and unforeseen challenges we have faced. The YWCA of Gettysburg and Adams County is certainly no different, but we have been strong and like the community that comprises us, we look forward to the future with great enthusiasm.

The atmosphere in our building at 909 Fairfield Road is different than “normal” if only because traffic is down a bit. Many members have understandably stayed away from large groups and gatherings. However, we are still operating, as always, and there is plenty of life at the YW, seven days a week.

Many of our “constants” that had included races, brown bag lunches, swim meets, and more were tabled due to the pandemic, events important to us financially and to the community. We miss them and cannot wait for them to return.

This time of year, we’d usually be celebrating another successful “Dancing With The Local Stars” at the Majestic Theater, an event we co-sponsor with the Adams County Arts Council. In the spring and fall, we were forced to cancel our two Nearly New Sales, which typically generate over $30,000 and provide much-needed, gently used closing children’s clothing to many families — thanks to participation of nearly 200 consignors.

Also falling victim to the virus was our participation in the annual Heritage Festival in September, as well as our beloved “Three Fields” offering in the Road Scholar program, our Gettysburg-based and managed presentation that annually ranks among the international organization’s top enrolled events. It, too, is an important contributor to our financial formula. All four of our yearly races, including the 30-year anniversary running of the Spirit of Gettysburg 5K, were either cancelled or run as virtual events, providing a small fraction of normal revenue.

We proudly and importantly continued to offer our Child Enrichment Program, Adams County’s largest daycare operation operating CEP under a state waiver to benefit essential workers when other businesses were closed due to the pandemic.

We face a challenge in this area still, as we are subject to mandated reduced capacity for and indoor occupancy throughout the building.

We have nevertheless had many successes.

The YWCA has a long commitment to celebrating the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and although our traditional celebration was cancelled, we’ll wager you have noticed the colorful new diversity signs designed by prior Board Member Katy Giebenhain, and especially the Martin Luther King signs featuring a selection of memorable quotations. You may have also noticed new some additional “Women Behind These Walls” placards in the windows of local homes and businesses. If you stop and read one, you’ll want to read them all!

We joyfully celebrated the successful completion of our Preserving Our Legacy Endowment Campaign; and added benches added to the front walkway, and had a very successful showing at the Adams County Community Foundation’s Giving Spree;

we partnered with Foursquare Church in establishing a Student Support Center for the purpose of aiding families in the community with middle-school aged children tasked with remote learning.

For many, the YWCA is a place to stay healthy. Our swimming pool is in full operation, including classes, and might just be the safest and best place to exercise you are likely to find right now. We’ve also learned to offer exercise classes and to stay connected with members online. You can still play basketball, racquetball, pickle ball – just about everything – just as always. All visitors are required to wear a mask inside the building, which we know can be awkward and challenging, but not impossible. We take great care to keep the facility safe and sanitized; you’ll see us cleaning at virtually every hour of the day.

The YWCA looks longingly toward the future. We are excited about bringing back the things that made us who we are and continuing our mission, fully empowered to succeed.

The day is coming when runners will be lining up for our 5K or Half Marathon, when the building will echo with the sound of happy kids and adults who once again rely on this place as the social hub it’s been for the last 40 years, when we will have a locker room and pool full of swimmers. The Ragged Edge regulars will once again convene in the corner, solving the world’s problems.

Mostly, though, we look forward to honoring our mission and meeting the community’s needs. We are ready to bring Cultural Bridges Training to even more groups, organizations, businesses in the community who can seek to learn or expand knowledge of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; we have plans to returning the Girls on the Run program; our website will be more easily accessible. There’s much more.

Finally, our venerable location at 909 Fairfield Road turns 40 in 2021. We plan to enthusiastically celebrate a structure that has played at least some part in the health and well being of an entire county. You’re on the guest list!

Dotty Dalphon is the executive director of the YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County. Contact her at ddalphon@ywcagettysburg.org or 717-334-9171, ext. 124.

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