YMCA Assists Family in Providing Social Experiences for Son

By: Mollie Shauger | Wednesday, September 25, 2019 | Financial Assistance

Kaitlyn Ghiassi, her husband Erfann, son Danial, and daughter, Laylah.

Kaitlyn Ghiassi, her husband Erfann, and 2-year-old son Danial had just moved to New Jersey from Grenada, where Erfann attended medical school. He had been placed at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston for his clinical rotation, and they were able to find a place to live nearby.

Erfann’s assignment was unpaid and they were living off of student loans, and Kaitlyn was expecting another baby. She wanted Danial to socialize with other kids in hopes this would help him overcome some speech delays, a suggestion that came from Danial’s doctor. She also wanted him to have normal childhood experiences despite a time of transition for their family, and for him to be able to participate in YMCA programs like swim lessons and STEAM classes. 

She learned about the Peanut Shell Early Childhood Learning Center, the West Essex YMCA’s child care location in Livingston, and decided to enroll him there.

She applied for financial assistance through the YMCA and qualified for assistance with child care tuition at Peanut Shell as well for a Y membership. Because of the Y, Danial was able to develop friendships and have an outlet to explore his interests, Kaitlyn said. 

“I saw Danial change and become a more well rounded child. His social, emotional, and intellectual skills all progressed at a quick rate,” she said. 

The YMCA’s Financial Assistance program, or Y for All Fund, is designed to help individuals and families who want to participate in the Y’s programs and services, but have extenuating circumstances, such as caring for a parent, loss of a job, or medical bills. Financial assistance can be used to help pay for YMCA memberships, child care programs and camp. The program is made possible largely by donations from members of the community through the Annual Community Support Campaign.

The YMCA has helped more people like the Ghiassi family. In 2018, the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges awarded $1.8 million in direct financial assistance so that members could engage in a variety of YMCA programs at the association's seven branches in East Orange, Hackensack, Hardyston, Livingston, Maplewood, Stillwater and Wayne.

How to apply

An application is available at metroymcas.org. Applicants will have to explain the circumstances that are behind their decision to apply, and provide documented verification of their income.

How to donate

The YMCA’s Annual Community Support Campaign raises money to help fund the Financial Assistance Program. Visit metroymcas.org to learn more about how you can help all members of the community experience Y programs.


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