WORTHINGTON — The JC Safety Around Water Program will continue for several more years thanks to a check presented Friday morning by the Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation (WRHCF).
Jeff Rotert, the foundation’s executive director, delivered a check for $122,153,88 to Worthington Area YMCA Executive Director Meredith Daley. The total is composed of $8,222 in donations from Winterfest’s Deep Freeze Dip event, $53,931.88 from the Y’s Strong Kids Campaign and $60,000 in matching grant money from the WRHCF.
‘This is the largest matching grant we’ve done to date,” Rotert said. “This will fund the JC Safety Around Water Program for all second-graders in Nobles County for the next five years. It gives them an opportunity to learn a life-long skill that they’ll always with them.”
The origins of the Y program date back to the summer of 2011, when Jami Cummings of Worthington heard screams for help and left her vehicle to save a woman and child from drowning in Lake Okabena. Nine years later, the JC Safety Around Water Program — formerly known as the Jami Cummings Learn to Swim Program — is still going strong, thanks to the generosity of many.
Rotert noted that the WRHCF has been a consistent supporter of the water programming and other YMCA offerings.
“We’ve been a strong proponent of the YMCA and its programming for kids,” said Rotert, adding that the latest grant was originally going to be announced during the March cruise dinner event that ended up never taking place as a result of COVID-19.
Daley, who came on board at the Worthington Area YMCA in March, is impressed with the JC Safety Around Water Program.
“I think it’s invaluable, and we’re really grateful for the foundation helping to provide for it,” Daley said. “I think it’s a great way for kids to get started in the water ... and also for them to open up conversations in their households about what they learned when they went to school. They take their learning outside the classroom.
“It’s also a great way to get the word out about the phenomenal facilities we have here and some of the great programs we have to offer,” she added.
Daley explained that the water safety program will be offered this fall for second- and third-graders who attend Worthington Christian School, St. Mary’s School, Adrian Elementary School and potentially Brewster Elementary School. The program couldn’t be offered this spring, as it is normally, because of the ongoing pandemic.
Once April 2021 rolls around, it’s anticipated that the program will be offered to second- and-third-graders attending Worthington’s Prairie Elementary.
Daley believes the Worthington Y has something special with its JC Safety Around Water Program.
“There are YMCAs that do have generic safety around water programs, but I don’t think many of them have the consistent programs like we offer here,” she said.