Healthy Kids Support the Y Y Stories YMCA Child Care

How donors helped Jerry find child care and open doors for his daughter

Father with Daughter on his shoulders

All year long, YMCA of Greater Toronto members and families share amazing stories about their connection to the Y, and how donors make a difference. Today, in honour of Giving Tuesday, we’re celebrating one of these amazing “Y Stories” — and kicking off our annual Holiday Giving Campaign.

Jerry’s Y Story is one of perseverance, caring, community, and triumph. When his family needed it most, YMCA child care staff showed how much they cared — and became an unexpected and critically important support system.

“Caring adults help to raise caring children, and the people at the YMCA are caring and open-minded,” he says. “The YMCA has had a big impact on my family; they made a real difference.

Born in 2013, Jerry’s daughter, Patty, faced a host of medical hurdles. Her diagnosis of Pierre-Robin sequence meant that it was difficult for her to eat and breathe; without ear canals, her hearing would be impaired, and at just 12 months of age, she underwent surgery to repair a cleft palate.

Although she showed some characteristics of autism, Patty’s physical disabilities made it difficult to determine the extent of her developmental delays, making her future unknown.

While dealing with his own cancer diagnosis, Jerry began looking for child care when Patty was three. His search began and ended at Mississauga Credit Valley YMCA Centre, where he met Tammy, the centre’s child care director. Jerry and Tammy talked in her office for over an hour. He shared his family’s story, including the process of sponsoring his in-law’s emigration from China. Despite their strained financial situation, the family still
came in above the cutoff for government-assisted childcare. But Tammy helped to ensure that Jerry would receive financial assistance from the YMCA, and that his daughter would have a place at the Credit Valley Y.

Patty’s progress was swift and notable as Tammy strove to understand Jerry’s approach. “She wanted to learn from my experience as a parent and collaborate,” he says. “She wanted to know everything about my daughter — her daily routine, eating habits, sleeping patterns, and even how to operate her hearing aids. No one had ever shown an interest like this. I felt like Tammy really understood me.” While Jerry was hospitalized, Tammy sent daily progress reports to keep him up to date and upbeat. “It made me feel so much better knowing my daughter was being taken care of.”

After joining the Y’s child care program, four-year-old Patty began to reach milestones her parents never thought possible: she now engages in imaginary play, an important gauge for children with autism.

“She has tea parties with her dolls, she hugs other children and she can sit still to eat a meal! This is no big deal for other kids, but it’s huge for Patty and has helped me see that my daughter can be high-functioning,” Jerry says with pride. “Before the Y, everything was a blur and I had no plan. But now I see a clear path for her future.”

“The YMCA has changed our lives. After a year at the child care, my daughter is now at E.C Drury School for the Deaf and she’s learning American Sign Language. I never thought that could happen.”

By making a special Giving Tuesday donation to the YMCA of Greater Toronto, you can help create more spaces for children and families just like Jerry’s. Your gifts not only provide access to our child care, health and fitness, and camp programs, but also support critical services in your neighbourhood, such as employment programs, newcomer services, our youth shelter and more. Donate today and inspire more Y stories of caring!

This YMCA participant has shared his story, but for privacy reasons is not depicted in this photo.

If you have a Y story you’d like to share, email Ygivingstory@ymcagta.org.