Today's families are facing a dilemma like never before, whether it is a single parent raising children alone, grandparents put in the position of raising grandchildren, or families just down on their luck with medical bills piling up. 

The cost of child care is rising, and many children are left at home to fend for themselves after school because of this. Where can these families turn for help with quality child care?

Our answer is the Florence Family YMCA! The Florence Family YMCA was first created in September 1923 as a Railroad YMCA, and we have been at our current location of 1700 Rutherford Drive in Florence since 1971.

The mission of the Florence Family YMCA is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all, but a mainstay in our programming focus has always been developing the minds and bodies of our youth. We are able to offer a safe and nurturing environment for children to grow, thrive and build their self-confidence through three different child care programs: preschool, after school and summer day camp. 

With help from the United Way of Florence County, the Florence Family YMCA is able to offer financial assistance to more than 100 families in our three child-care programs. When you give to the United Way, you are helping families that otherwise would not be able to afford child care. Just $4 per week helps provide two weeks of after-school care for a child. While in the after-school care program, the child is picked up from school, given a healthy snack, engaged in physical activities and assisted with homework.

Without the funding provided to us from the United Way, the Florence Family YMCA would not be able to help nearly as many families through financial assistance. That means less children would be able to take advantage of everything the YMCA has to offer through our childcare programs. The United Way makes it possible for children to experience so many things they would otherwise miss out on, such as swimming, playing games in the gym and outside, arts and crafts and taking some awesome field trips.

Our facility is even equipped with Wi-Fi so students can use their Chromebooks to do their homework. With all of the challenges that families are facing today, it is nice to know that the United Way is helping make lives easier through its partner agencies, such as the YMCA. Your donation to the United Way goes a long way toward helping the community be a better place for everyone. 

United Way funding also helps support our Safety Around Water program. Safety Around Water offers children from low-income families the opportunity to participate in swimming lessons and water safety classes with the goal of being able to survive in a water emergency or to help someone else in a water emergency. During our 2019 session, more than 85 children participated in the program, with 75% of those being able to swim proficiently enough to get to the side of the pool and be able to get another person to the side of a pool during a water emergency.

Outside of the programs we partner with United Way on, the Florence Family YMCA is also committed to providing healthy activity for adults and children in the community. Adults can take advantage of our gym, indoor and outdoor pools and numerous group fitness classes while their kids enjoy our youth activity center. Youth also can participate in our soccer, basketball, baseball or flag football teams, and we invite the whole family to join us to celebrate the nationwide Healthy Kids Day in April.

When you make a donation to the United Way or to our annual campaign, you can be assured that your donation will be used to benefit people who really need your help. Every dollar you donate will be used to make a difference in someone's life. It is always good to know your donations to our area nonprofits are appreciated, and you can see that appreciation through the smiles on the faces of children and their parents as they enjoy all the YMCA has to offer.

For more information about the Florence Family YMCA and the programs we offer, visit florenceymca.org.