By Julia Ludwig and Rosemarie Boucher
The Charlestown YMCA is so much more than the standard fitness center. Yes, with the renovated and expanded gym facilities and outstanding selection of group classes for reasonable rates, it is known as the “best deal in town” when it comes to fitness options.
This is secondary to what we are able to provide to our more vulnerable community members.
From our successful Teen Program to our brand new Teen Women Empowerment Program, we have focused on providing a safe and productive place for Charlestown’s teenage population. We also provide a free Child Watch program with expanded morning and evening hours for busy parents so no one has to miss out on taking care of their physical wellbeing. Additionally, families travelling from all over with sick and injured children requiring care at the Boston Shriners Hospital find respite at the Constitution Inn. In a similar vein, the YMCA runs an emergency shelter called the Dennis McLaughlin House, serving homeless single parent families spearheaded by moms suffering from addiction and substance use disorders.
Named for Dennis McLaughlin who helped to create Boston Against Drugs in Charlestown over 30 years ago (known today as Charlestown Health and Development), the shelter is housed at the Constitution Inn. Residents are assigned to the shelter by the Department of Housing and Community Development and typically stay between 12 and 18 months. With ten dedicated units on a secure floor of the Inn, currently seven families with substance use histories receive the benefit of independence through a wide range of life services including advocacy, employment support, substance abuse education and support, health and wellness opportunities and childcare assistance. While the women focus on rehabilitation and learning skills of self-sufficiency that will take them beyond their time in the shelter, their children have the opportunity to feel safe and carefree in a protective environment.
By lifting up the more vulnerable people in our society, we serve to make our entire community stronger. While the Department of Transitional Assistance and the Department of Public Health provides funding to this program, the YMCA Annual Campaign must supplement these funds in order to serve these families effectively. Donations can be earmarked for the Dennis McLaughlin House to ensure this program receives the support it requires to exist. Additionally, proceeds from tickets to the Charlestown YMCA’s Community Kick Off Party on February 2nd will benefit the 2017 Annual Campaign, including the work of the shelter, directly impacting the lives of these women and children. Join the YMCA staff and Board of Advisors at Blackmoor Bar and Kitchen at 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased in advanced at http://ymcaboston.org/charlestown or call Alexandra Mason at 617-286-1212.
Julia Ludwig and Rosemarie Boucher are associated with the YMCA.