As essential workers seek child care while traditional day care centers are closed during the novel coronavirus pandemic, a Cape Ann couple is looking to bolster one organization that is meeting that need. 

Longtime supporters of the YMCA, Mollie and John Byrnes of Gloucester have donated $75,000 to support the YMCA Emergency Childcare Services. The YMCA set up the child care program in response to the current crisis. 

"We are in awe of what the Y does for family and children," Mollie Byrnes said. "There are people who have nowhere to go in this world and the Y does not refuse anybody."

The current YMCA child care staff is providing child care for children of health care workers and first responders during the pandemic.

There are four emergency child care centers in Y facilities in Beverly, Salem, Haverhill, and Plaistow, New Hampshire.

"EMTs, nurses, firefighters, policemen," John Byrnes listed off. "They all could use this kind of help because regular day care organizations are shut down and there is no place for their kids to go."

As a nonprofit with more than 500 employees, the YMCA of the North Shore, which operates the Cape Ann Y, does not qualify for any federal emergency relief at this time.

When they heard about this, the Byrneses responded with the hopes of supporting an organization they respect. They encourage others to do the same. 

"The Y stepped up to the plate when day care centers were closed," Mollie Byrnes said. 

The Byrnes' gift will assist the Y in its efforts to continue child care services for those who are fighting on the front lines. 

"Mollie and John's generosity never ceases to amaze me," said Chris Lovasco, YMCA of the North Shore's President & CEO. "They simply get the importance of community and are always there for children in need. We are so grateful for them as well as our other donors and members who continue to give to the Y. We could not do this without them."

Anyone interested in helping the YMCA respond to the effects of the COVID-19 crisis in their neighborhood can find more information at www.northshoreymca.org/covid-19-response-fund.

"We hope that other people can join us in helping the Y," Mollie Byrnes said. "Our hat is off to them for stepping up to the plate during this crisis."

Staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or tbradford@gloucestertimes.com.

AID FROM THE Y

In addition to offering emergency child care during the crisis, the YMCA of the North Shore is providing support in all the communities it serves by: 

Providing meals and groceries for more than 500 residents living in YMCA affordable housing. 

Offering Virtual Y, which includes live workout videos and family activities. 

Creating an employee relief fund to support furloughed staff for most of whom there are no hours of work available until the Y can reopen its doors. 

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