Dear Bradford YMCA Members:

We cannot thank you enough for your patience, understanding, and support during the COVID-19 closure. We know this has been a difficult time for many, and we have missed you. We know you are eager to return and we are eager to have you back.  After extensive planning to ensure the safety of our members, staff, and community, we are thrilled to announce that the Bradford YMCA will begin a phased-in reopening entering into Stage 1 on Monday, June 15.  Welcome Back!

Recently we held a staff contest to name our reopening plan so that as staff we can focus on who we are as a Y and a message we can bring to our members.  Our winning name and new tag line is “Building Tomorrow Together.”  Get used to it, because this is what we are committed to - building our tomorrows together!

In preparation for your return, attached is your Welcome Back packet of information.  Please review prior to your first visit back to the Y.  Your packet includes the following:

“Building Tomorrow Together” Reopening Plan: This is a rather extensive document that will give you the details on how the Y will reopen and answer many of your questions.  To access the full plan, go to We are taking the necessary steps to finalize your return so we can progress successfully through the outlined stages.

Waiver & Member Code of Conduct: Per the recommendation of our insurance company, every member must sign a new waiver and member code of conduct prior to returning to the YMCA.  In order to avoid shuffling papers, we encourage you to complete this online prior to your first visit.  Please use this link for adults and for minors, or you can print it and bring it to the Y.

Membership Reactivation Form: We are offering multiple options for you to reactivate your membership.  Please read through the options and complete the form online or return to the YMCA at your earliest convenience.  Use this link to access the form:

Program Schedule Preview: We are excited to offer a summer full of outdoor activities “Under the Tent” for youth, families, adults, and seniors. For a sneak preview of some of the activities CLICK HERE. A complete schedule and registration details will be announced by June 10. We are excited to celebrate the Best Summer Ever!

FAQs: Please refer to the FAQs sheet to answer some frequently asked questions. You can find a list of the rules we now have to follow HERE. We hope this will help you understand what you can expect on your first visit back to the Y.

We have been busy preparing for your return.  In addition to cleaning and disinfecting the entire building, we started some renovation projects that have upgraded your Y including removing the ceiling in the natatorium, replacing the sprinkler system, and cleaning and repainting the ceiling. While the water is drained from the pool, we will have the pool tank repainted and it should look brand new when the project is complete.  The gym floor has been sanded down to the original flooring, restriped and refinished – it looks fabulous!  We have painted many areas in the building including the group exercise room, locker rooms, and bathrooms.  The parking lot has been repaired, repaved, and restriped.  All of the floors have been stripped and waxed.  Completing these projects will eliminate the need for the annual August shutdown.

Due to the multi-functions, spaces, and programs in a YMCA, a phased-in approach is necessary to ensure we are taking every precaution to prevent the spread of the virus, following necessary requirements, guidelines, and recommendations, and creating long-term changes that will prevent closures in the future.

As a preview of the “Building Tomorrow Together” Reopening Plan, you can expect the following:

1. The way we’ll interact with each other will be different, but at the Y, you’ll always be able to connect with people, improve your health and wellness, nurture your children’s potential and help strengthen our community.  As a community partner and cornerstone in the Bradford community for over 130 years, our Y stands strong to serve the community.

2. We are committed to eliminating the spread of the virus within the Y by keeping two very important priorities:  1.  Social distancing of 6 feet or more and wearing of masks (more below on that) and 2. Vigilant and thorough cleaning protocols.

3. The first stage will include indoor and outdoor activities. The indoor activities include the Wellness Center and School Age Child Care (Day Camp).  You will notice that we have moved all of the equipment to promote 6-10 feet between machines.  We will release a number of new protocols that must be followed during the early stages of reopening (spotting, reservations for equipment use, occupancy limits, cleaning of machines, etc.).

4. The outdoor activities will include a wide variety of programs “Under the Tent”.  You will notice a large party tent in the parking lot soon.  In order to hold programs in a safer environment, we will take the Y outside and are planning the Best Summer Ever!  Watch for details.

5. By order of the Governor, masks must be worn in public facilities.  You will be required to wear a mask within the building.  (We are working on getting a waiver to allow the mask removal on cardio machines).  We are concerned about the health risk wearing a mask during exercise presents and are working to find solutions.

6. The pool will reopen as soon as the renovation projects are complete.  We anticipate the pool opening sometime in July.  We will make announcements to keep you informed. We will be announcing a number of outdoor options for group exercise and youth activities.

7. We will continue to offer a wide range of virtual programs for you to access in the comfort of your home.  Please use this option for your convenience, comfort level, and flexibility.

I know you have a lot of questions.  We have tried to answer all of the questions in your Welcome Back Packet.  Please email us at if you have further questions.

Finally, thank you so much for staying with us during the closure.  Your loyalty and trust in the Y drove us to respond to the most pressing needs.  Your support allowed us to create a shepherding program that reached over 7,000 households weekly, helped our neighbors with their groceries or other basic needs, provide emergency child care for essential workers, and host virtual options while people were home.  Thank you.

We invite you to join us in whatever manner you are most comfortable whether virtually or at the Y.  Taking care of your health is more important now than ever before.  We’re here to help you stay active and healthy and improve your well-being.  Together we are a better us … Building Tomorrow Together.  Welcome back to your Y!

Barb Sweitzer

YMCA Update - May 15, 2020

Dear YMCA Member:
We’ve missed you at the Y. The past couple of months have been challenging for all of us and we thank you for doing your part to help stop the spread of the virus – especially for the benefit of our most vulnerable neighbors. We cannot thank you enough for your support during this difficult time – thank you for staying with us by contributing your Y dues to a sustaining membership, for supporting a successful Giving Tuesday Campaign, and putting your membership on hold in great anticipation for the facilities to reopen. The support and generosity have fueled the mission.

During the closure, the Y has risen above the closed buildings and has responded to community needs by providing emergency child care, creating a shepherding program that reaches out to more than 7,000 households weekly, providing groceries and other supplies to households, and developing virtual options to keep people physically active, inspiring kids with STEM and craft activities, and encouraging youth to be active and work on sports skills. We are committed to our mission of strengthening our community through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.

I start all of our staff meetings with a statement and a challenge to the staff, “We are too important to our communities to not position ourselves to be the best that we can be.” I assure you that we are working hard to care for the community today, preparing for reopening soon, and imagining how our Y will operate and serve you in the future. With all of the talk about NY and PA reopening, we are getting a lot of questions as to when the Y will reopen. Please understand that neither state has given the approval for indoor recreation to resume activities. We believe this is still some time out, and although we cannot predict the exact day when the Y will reopen, we are preparing for that day. We also know from the brief survey we sent to members that people range in their comfort level of resuming their daily Y routines.

As we prepare to reopen the doors, please know that your safety – and the safety of all our members, program participants, staff, and volunteers – is our number one priority. We will follow all guidelines from health experts and local officials to ensure that our facilities and practices meet the highest standards of hygiene and safety, and we have modified our policies and programs to facilitate safe social distancing practices. We will open slowly in phases making sure that everything we do focuses on two very important safety concepts – social distancing and a vigorous cleaning regimen.

We will keep you informed as the opening approaches – sharing with you our complete reopening plan, changes in how you will use your YMCA, and the preventive measures we promise to provide. We know you miss your Y, the people you see at the Y, and all the Y means to you – and we miss you more than you will ever know! Now is the time to be patient as we work diligently to serve the community outside our buildings and prepare for our community to re-enter our buildings.

Taking care of your health is more important now than ever before. We’re here for you to help you stay active and healthy and improve your well-being. Join one of the many virtual options that will engage and inspire you to keep active.

In closing, let me extend my thanks and gratitude for the financial support we have received. This closure has and will continue to challenge a sustainable operating model. Together with your support and our promise to operate responsibly, your Y will rise above COVID-19 and continue to be a cornerstone in the community. THANK YOU!


Barb Sweitzer
YMCA of the Twin Tiers


12 nonprofit agencies receive grants from local COVID-19 Response Fund to help impacted residents

Funding from the first round of grants from the fund, established and led by the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation, Dr. Lyle F. Renodin Foundation and United Way in Cattaraugus County, support immediate needs such as food security, housing assistance, services for the elderly and child care services for essential workers.

YMCA of the Twin Tiers received $3,400 for its emergency child care program, which provides child care services for essential workers in health care and emergency services.

Olean Food Pantry received $3,200 to allow the pantry to purchase additional food supplies. The pantry has seen its supplies depleted as the demand for help among its clients has increased dramatically over the last month.

Cattaraugus County Department of Aging received $3,000 to support the Cattaraugus County Department of the Aging’s Meals on Wheels program, which has seen a significant increase in requests from county seniors. The program now is also providing seniors with essential groceries, cleaning supplies and activities supporting mental wellness in addition to its usual meal delivery services.

Catholic Charities of Buffalo received $2,200 to help provide for Cattaraugus County clients’ essential needs such as food, transportation costs and hygiene products.

Cattaraugus Community Action received $2,200 to provide Trac phones and minutes to support virtual case management with clients, many of whom are in difficult situations of abuse and domestic violence and may lack internet access so that they can continue receiving case management and counseling services.

Genesis House of Olean received $2,200 to help provide food, hygiene items and baby items such as diapers and formula to clients and community members in need.

The Master’s Plan received $2,200 to help the organization provide food and essential items, including Personal Protective Equipment, to families in need in the northern part of Cattaraugus County.

Saving Grace Outreach received $2,100 to help the agency provide emergency food supplies in the Cattaraugus/Little Valley-area of the county.

Salvation Army received $1,900 to help provide additional food supplies and rent and utility assistance as they are seeing an increase demand from area individuals in need.

St. Bonaventure University’s Warming House, which is currently the area’s only open soup kitchen, received $1,600 to help continue its food service programming and also to help provide sanitizers.

Olean First Baptist Church received $1,600 for its We Are His Hands program, which provides food vouchers for area grocery stores to Olean residents as part of an outreach program, which has expanded to growing needs of program beneficiaries.

St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store received $1,400 to support the purchase of food for the agency’s food pantry and emergency funds to support clients with rent and utility payments.



YMCA Update - April 4, 2020

YMCA Organizing a Community Effort to Engage Target Populations During Pandemic

Y works with community partners to reach out to at-risk members

We are in unprecedented times. We are confronting a new enemy that threatens our health and well-being and, most importantly, our peace of mind. We could despair, panic, or we can respond. The Y is responding in organizing an effort to mobilize the community in a shepherding program encouraging local residents to care for one another. “The well-being of members, staff, volunteers, and our entire community is our priority. We are adjusting our efforts to spread the Y caring spirit throughout our community,” said Barb Sweitzer, CEO, YMCA of the Twin Tiers.

“While developing our COVID-19 Response Plan for the YMCA, we focused on how the Y should rise above our closed buildings and serve the community when people need us most. Our planning process led to our core mission of strengthening foundation of community and we began identifying the gaps during these unprecedented times, and how we respond in support. Among many action items, a Community Shepherding Program evolved."

The Shepherding Program is very simple. It is people caring for people and people caring for their community. Y staff and volunteers are given their “flock” of people that they will “shepherd” during this period of isolation. It is an organized effort to leave no one forgotten, alone or isolated. Although the program targets five distinct target groups it is important to recognize that there are other vulnerable populations. The five targeted areas are: aging seniors, people who suffer from mental illness, inter-generational families, low income families, and children left alone at home while schools are closed. Each of these targeted populations has unique pre-existing challenges that could heighten during this COVID-19 crisis. Sweitzer added, “I believe that we will have more casualties caused from isolation and added pressures than from the virus itself. As a community, we can rise to help our neighbors and make a difference.”

Imagine the aging senior who is home alone, afraid to go outside because he or she is very vulnerable to the coronavirus. This person begins to lose hope while are running out of food and essential supplies. A caring voice checking in and inviting him or her to engage in a few minutes of normalcy though a conversation could mean so much in a time of isolation. A simple phone call and act of compassion will give a beacon of hope. The Y envisions the difference it could make if when a “shepherd” calls his or her “flock” every day or two and relationships grow as seniors look forward to the interaction that breaks up the period of loneliness.

Imagine how the added pressures and uncertainty caused during this time affect people living with mental illness. Individuals already suffering from depression and anxiety are feeling discouraged and hopeless. The Shepherding Program reaches out to Swizzy’s Cause participants and other identified people who are struggling during this time, and it assures them they are not alone and that someone cares. Imagine the growing population of inter-generational families of aging grandparents raising grandchildren. In a normal workweek, the grandparent relies on the school day to get respite and store their energy to care for the child after-school and into the evening. With schools not in session, the care of young children is expanded to the entire day of hands-on parenting. They do it willingly and with open arms, but caring for young children while experiencing lower energy as an aging person can be daunting especially when it is day after day with no end in sight. Shepherds can help by suggesting low energy activities that will help the grandparent persevere.

Imagine families already struggling financially living paycheck to paycheck. The news of losing a job due to COVID-19 is devastating, and it becomes more difficult to comprehend how they will provide the essential needs for their family. Having a “shepherd” to help them think through the available resources and assistance in the community could bring hope to a situation that seems hopeless. Imagine children who go to after school programs like the Y. These kids love their Y and prefer to be with their friends in organized activity and supervised play rather than going home or anywhere else. The Y or their favorite after-school activity is closed, their school is closed, and they have lost their daily interaction and supervision. There are a lot of lost kids out there. The shepherding program can make a difference in connecting kids virtually and engaging them in positive alternatives.

“How we respond and how we help during this time will define how our community rebounds.” If you would like to be a shepherd and give caring support to a flock, please call Megan Jennings, Community Shepherding Program Director at 716-701-1376. As the Y finalizes its organization of the program, shepherds will be included in a brief training, provided with scripts and available resources to share with their flock. You need not be an expert, you just need a caring heart who has time to connect with others. Together we will keep our community strong during a time of wonder and uncertainty.

YMCA staff are currently reaching out to Y members to assess any needs they may have such as food, toiletries or simply someone to talk to. Sweitzer continued, “The YMCA is so much more than a swim and gym facility. We’re a community and a cause dedicated to strengthening and protecting the spirits, minds, and bodies of our friends and communities. Our team is actively trying to engage members who may need us most during these difficult times. Certain populations are more vulnerable during extended periods of isolation so we’re implementing a shepherding program to look after them. We want our members to know we may not be able to open our facility doors to them right now, but we’re still able to support them by reaching out and assisting them in other ways if possible.”






YMCA Update - March 23, 2020

Dear YMCA Member:

Just like every crisis before, we come together in the name of our humanity. And just like it’s been for the last 135 years, our Y is here for good.

Thank you for your patience as we communicate the effects of this change. It’s been a complicated time for everyone, and we appreciate you bearing with us. Your Y leadership staff has worked tirelessly the past week responding to some of the most pressing needs of our community and narrowing our focus as permitted by state and national mandates. Since the Olean Y started in 1885 and Bradford Y in 1889 and expanded its reach across three counties in the Twin Tiers including a facility in Wellsville, the Y has adapted and changed to meet community needs and strengthen the foundations of our community. I will outline a few ways we are doing our part to keep our community strong.

Help Us by Keeping an Active Membership
We need all hands on deck. Members who continue to pay their monthly membership dues are our Sustaining Members – because they are helping us be resilient during this chaotic time. We are asking you to stay with us. We understand that everyone is not in a position to do so and we need you to do what is best for your situation. Here are your options:

1. Be a Sustaining Y Member: Allow us to keep your monthly membership draft active. Your dues will be considered a contribution to the cause and be used to focus on sustaining YMCA operations and meeting community needs during this crisis period. If you choose to do this, no action is required on your part. We will continue to draft your membership and will provide you with documentation of your charitable gift at the end of this period. You can change your mind at any time should your situation change.

2. Place Your Membership on Hold: We know many people are scared and feeling the pressures of this situation. If you are unable to be a sustaining member by contributing your Y dues, place your membership on hold. We will discontinue your monthly membership draft and resume the draft when we reopen. There is no charge for putting your membership on hold during this shutdown period. You must call the Y to put your membership on hold. Please call your home branch, and we will make the necessary changes. A YMCA representative will be available Monday through Friday from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm.

We’re in this Together

Thank you for working with us to create a history that demonstrates how we came together and served those who needed us the most. Let us tell the story of the meaningful ways in which we responded. Let that be the story that is remembered. Here are just a couple ways your Y is responding:

- Emergency Child Care Services: The Y is providing childcare services for employees of hospitals and medical facilities, nursing homes, group homes, and First Responders. We are caring for their children so they can care for our community. Paying for childcare is a new expense for these emergency workers, and we need to find ways to provide the financial assistance necessary so these critical care workers can continue their crucial work.

- Community Shepherding Program: We have already been piloting this over the past week with a select group of our members. The Shepherding Program is an organized effort to check in with our most vulnerable populations: seniors, people suffering from mental illness, families with unique challenges, people who are suffering financially, and children who are being left home alone. Neighbors helping Neighbors: more to come.

- Virtual Health Initiatives: We know the Y is an extension of your family, and we remain honored to serve you. While we can’t serve you in-person, you can become part of Y360, a new virtual initiative led by Ys across the country. We have your favorite classes brought to you by top instructors now available at home. Start taking classes now at: Y360 on Youtube.

Working Responsibly with Compassion
We are working around the clock uncovering every stone to reduce expenses and minimize the extreme financial burden that this will cause our nonprofit organization. We are looking at how to finance the deficits we will face. Not unlike other organizations, we have had to make some very difficult decisions that affect the lives of our 350 employees. Our employees are our family, and we care deeply about the personal challenges this position will place on them. We have the opportunity, right now, to decide what the future looks like. We want a future of generosity, social justice and equal access to critical resources. We are learning a lot in real-time, and we’re adapting.

Remaining Resilient and Strong
We can’t thank you enough for your support and understanding. We're working on other ways we can support our community. We will continue to communicate with you through our website, Facebook, and direct emails to members. (If you have not received previous emails, now is a good time to update your email address. Send an email to today.)

Most importantly, this is not forever. We’re standing by you during this trying time and ask that you stand by us as well. There’s a bright future ahead, but the only way we will get there is together. Thank you.

Barb Sweitzer

YMCA Update - March 16, 2020

Dear Valued Members and Families:

We understand that the closure of our YMCA facilities may have felt abrupt and untimely. Under these extraordinary circumstances, we know closing was the right decision. We serve thousands of people daily, both young and old and all in between. As such, we do not want to put our community at risk of contracting this highly infectious virus. Our top priority is the health and well-being of our valued members and staff, always. All of us at the Y are grateful for the outpouring of support, and we will continue to live our YMCA mission of serving and strengthening our communities.

Closure for any length of time is a significant threat to our non-profit organization. We need to come back strong: financially, programmatically, and personally. Join us in this effort. We ask that you continue to pay your membership dues so that we can use this revenue during this time of uncertainty. If you choose to donate your membership dues, no further action is necessary. Thank you! If you would like to do something different, we understand and are able to assist. Our member service representatives are available by phone, 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday. Please call your home branch.

The Y employs over 350 employees, and we are dedicated to caring for these individuals who, in turn, care for you. Our leadership team has made the decision to temporarily pay all staff through the initial stages of this challenge. We appreciate your help in these efforts.

Membership: We know the Y is an extension of your family, and we remain honored to serve you. While we can’t serve you in-person, you can become part of Y360, a new virtual initiative led by Ys across the country. We have your favorite classes brought to you by top instructors now available at home. Start taking classes now at: Y360.

Programs and Services: We are committed to the continuation of our programs when we reopen. Please see below for specific program details:

Progressive Swimming, Gymnastics Lessons, and Kinderclub: The current session is scheduled to end April 4. We will automatically re-register participants to the session running from April 20th to May 30th at no additional charge. Should you choose not to attend the April 20th session, you can receive a prorated credit for remaining classes that can be applied to your membership or future programs.

Youth Sports: All skills camps and soccer leagues will continue upon reopening. You will receive information on the rescheduled leagues as soon as possible.

Adult Volleyball and Soccer Leagues: All remaining games will be rescheduled upon reopening.

Fitness Programs, Peak Performance and Mission Maintain: These will resume and be extended upon reopening.

Special Events are cancelled and/or postponed until further notice. This includes 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament, Family Fun Nights, Super Saturdays, Healthy Kids Day, Kids' Fest, Say Yes to the Prom Dress, and Spring into Shape. We look forward to rescheduling these.

We know you still have questions. We do too. Please know we are committed to doing everything possible to secure the future of the YMCA and all of its services. For updates and more information, please keep checking back for updates on this website at for up-to-date information, along with our Facebook page at

We thank you for your patience, support and understanding during this unprecedented time. Please take care of yourself and one another. Our community is strong, and together, we will get through this.


Upcoming Events

What's happening at the Y?

schools out
School's Out Club  Starting October 14, 2019  Click HERE for more information.
Kinship Caregiver Program 6-7:30 2nd Wednesday of the Month Click HERE for more information.
Barb quote
FINDING BALANCE. IMPROVING LIVES.   JESSICA SWEITZER MEMORIAL FUND When a young Olean mother lost her life to mental illness after struggling…

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