30 Aug 2021

Greater Providence YMCA


The Greater Providence YMCA may have been forced to close its buildings doors during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the non-profit organization, which has been a presence in the community for 170 years, refused to succumb to the Coronavirus.

Instead, the Greater Providence YMCA, the second oldest YMCA in the country, pivoted its focus. Addressing the needs of the urban core, the Greater Providence YMCA diversified its offerings, pivoting from a gym-and-swim model to supporting Providence’s most vulnerable communities.

The Greater Providence YMCA’s “Pandemic Pivot” included utilizing its 40-plus vans to transport children to and from school and to deliver hot meals to those living in low-income neighborhoods.

With the doors closed to its members, the Greater Providence YMCA’s revenue decreased 50 percent during the pandemic, but the outreach effort and need to offer more vital programming increased.

The Papitto Opportunity Connection was one of several local organizations to respond to a fundraising challenge spearheaded by Malcom Chase, a partner at Canton Hathaway LLC.

“The Y’s mission of helping the community based on its core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility is truly reflected in the way it has shifted its programming during COVID-19 to serve those most in need,” said Arnell Milhouse, a member of the Papitto Opportunity Connection Advisory Board.

The funds will also be put towards swim lessons and water safety programs that will not only teach life-saving skills, but also serve as job training. The Greater Providence YMCA will employ lifeguards who are trained through the program.


“The Greater Providence YMCA is so grateful for the generosity and in recognizing how their donations can make a big difference in the lives of our most vulnerable communities,” said CEO Steven O’Donnell. “Their contributions allow us to continue investing in programs that are making a difference in our community.”

“The Papitto Opportunity Connection is pleased to support programs at the Y that bring education and skills training opportunities to communities in Rhode Island that have been historically underserved,” Coleman.

The pandemic restrictions have somewhat eased, but O’Donnell remains focused on how the Greater Providence YMCA can make its greatest impact in Rhode Island’s urban core.

“It’s without question, the most vulnerable of all our communities,” said O’Donnell. “Our goal is to acquire a large footprint in the urban core of Providence and build a multi-million-dollar state of the art facility and develop programs that positively impact those families that need us the most. This will impact the academic growth, job training and overall culture that provides opportunities to families to change lives.”

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