Trying to rebuild their lives after leaving a negative family situation, Lorelei and her kids needed child care.
But more importantly, they needed hope
The kind of hope found in a community where you can come as you are and belong.
Lorelei and her kids are just a few of the
in our Greater Vancouver YMCA family who strive every day to be healthy.
Take a journey with us to see how we’re making a difference together.
Regardless of income or background, every parent cares about the same things: that their kids eat their veggies; that they stay healthy, have great friends, do well in school and stay active. So they can be happy.
At the YMCA, we work together to build stronger connections
with other parents
with their kids
... and a place to let off steam and let the kids play. Because parents need time to be healthy too.
One visit to the Bob and Kay Ackles YMCA Nanook House and you can see how special it is. Children are laughing, playing and growing. Passionate staff are investing in the development of kids and supporting and befriending their parents. Parents are meeting other parents, and raising their families together with the encouragement and resources they need.
Lorelei and her two kids—Caleb (4) and Saiyaka (7)—have been a part of the Bob and Kay Ackles YMCA Nanook House for the past six years. “Before coming to Nanook, life was very hard,” says Lorelei. “The simplest things in life become harder once you become a new single mom.”
“When I was homeless, or couldn’t pay my child care fees, the Y was there. There was one time when my son hit me and I didn’t know how to deal with it. I was on my way to Nanook and so I had someone to talk to about it. If I didn’t trust the staff enough to talk about it, I wouldn’t have known what to do,” says Lorelei.
What is provided at Nanook is so much more than child care. Staff assist parents to secure housing, access transportation, and further their education. A full-time cook provides healthy meals and snacks every day. “I honestly believe from the bottom of my heart that every single parent should be at this child care,” says Lorelei.
Every child has a right to access the relationships that lead to a healthy life:
At the YMCA, we work together to build stronger connections
Counsellors to look up to
Teachers & coaches that believe in you
With a deep focus on staying active & living healthy, we help kids create their own social networks with friends and mentors so they are supported to reach their full potential.
“I cried when it was Saiyaka’s last day at Nanook and I know I’ll cry when it is Caleb’s last day.” For kids like Saiyaka and Caleb, YMCA Nanook House is a second home—one that offers a secure, calm environment where schedules, routines and transitions contribute to the child’s capacity to grow and be successful.
“Being a single mom is tough,” says Lorelei. “But my kids, they are my everything. Caleb is so sweet and innocent, and he looks older than he is even though he’s big and strong. Saiyaka was so little, and she’s a girlie girl.”
Each year, families at YMCA Nanook House go to family camp at YMCA Camp Elphinstone on the Sunshine Coast.
“We go through life not realizing how time flies. Kids grow up fast. At family camp, we’re able to get away and spend quality time together and do stuff we normally wouldn’t be able to do together as a family like kayaking and canoeing. I have great pictures of Caleb paddling in the canoe. It’s really cute.”
5,658 outdoor education participants
6,996 day campers
1,774 overnight campers
Today’s kids urgently need us. It’s our responsibility to step in and make a difference so they can grow up and transform our world. That’s why the YMCA exists as a powerful community of men, women and children of all ages and abilities joined together to raise strong and resilient kids.
The YMCA reaches out to all members of the community to create a healthy, vibrant place where we can thrive, together. We play. We’re active. We care, have fun and cause a ruckus... all to make it our home, away from home.
With the confidence she gained, Lorelei started her own dance troupe to raise awareness of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. “I started Butterflies in Spirit to get my missing Auntie’s picture out there, but as more and more people joined, I realized we could represent more women, ” she says.
“At first it was just an idea in my head and then it just took off. It’s really exciting.”
“We come here every Wednesday for the family dinners,” says Lorelei. “It’s one less meal to cook and it’s fun because there are a bunch of activities for the kids to do.”
Building connections between families at the same time as fulfilling basic needs is an important part of life at the YMCA Nanook House. “It’s great getting to know the other parents, so you have people to do activities with during the week.
“The Y is always there for me. I’ve been able to raise my children with a positive attitude and developed a positive relationship with them because of the support of the people and programs at Nanook House.”
to 10,344 people
118,348 hours of service
For 126 years, the YMCA of Greater Vancouver has been providing a safe, secure place for young people to be active and make connections.
This is the first generation of children and youth in modern history who will inherit a lower life expectancy than their parents.
30% of children entering kindergarten are developmentally vulnerable—intellectually, emotionally, socially and physically.
1 in 4
- Because they lack a village—a home inclusive of neighbours—a community.
- Parents are stretched to the max just trying to make ends meet.
- People are not stepping up, not believing they have a role to play in raising kids in our community.
It’s not just children. 50% of people in the Lower Mainland do not feel a strong sense of belonging. Isolation, disconnection, and lack of community have eroded our support networks.
50% + 30%
We need a village. A home away from home, an inclusive place, a community.
A place for us all.
Enter the YMCA
We are Determined to be a
Hopeful place that is
This is The Community We Want.
A community where
- We share a sense of social responsibility
- We experience better health in spirit, mind and body
- Children and families thrive
Everyone is welcome here.
Our facilities serve our community at every income level, across cultures, without boundaries. Everyone gets equal access to the same excellent programming, high-quality spaces and world-class community.
Together we can do this.
The YMCA is unique. It’s the only organization with a mission for children & youth that serves the whole community:
the young at heart
It takes a village, and we are that village.
Our approach recognizes that healthy children and youth can only exist in a community that is also home to healthy families and adults, and we believe that helping young people grow up healthy makes our whole community stronger.
We’re just scratching the surface.
We’re carving out the areas where we can have influence. We’re re-shaping our programs, developing world-class facilities, and building a platform to be advocates to support change—from programs through to policy.
But we need help.
The problems facing our kids require bold community solutions—solutions that we can only achieve if we work together.
After all, our kids are counting on us.
Are you up to the challenge?
The YMCA of Greater Vancouver is a charity dedicated to strengthening the foundations of community.