NORTH BAY -- The YMCA of Northeastern Ontario has lost $3 million as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and is in desperate need of community support to keep programs within its health, fitness and aquatic centres open.

The charity needs $1 million in donations for North Bay and $1 million for Sudbury to keep programs and activities at both facilities running. Without support, both buildings could close.

"It is incumbent upon us that not only we are here for those programs and services coming through the pandemic and recession, but make our commitments on any bills," said YMCA CEO Helen Francis.

Francis said up to 500 full-time and student summer jobs are on the line should the two facilities fully close. The Y expects even more revenue will be lost in the next 18-24 months.

'My Y Is Resilient'

To help the charity rebound, there's a new fundraising campaign underway with the slogan, 'My Y Is Resilient.'

 So far, up to $400,000 has been donated to keep the North Bay facility open, including a $100,000 donation from Francis' husband.

"When she became the CEO a few years ago, I realized everything the Y does -- and what would stop getting done if they don't have the money," said husband Heiko Leers.

Angela McNeil has a special connection to the YMCA. When her son died unexpectedly, she had nowhere to turn to help her with depression until she found the programs at the Y. She said she would be hurt if the programs shut down permanently.

"The YMCA is the heart of our community. Without it, there's nothing," McNeil said. "Coming into the Y was the only socialization I did."

Francis said the YMCA brings in $18 million on an annual basis and not replacing the lost money could mean devastating effects for years to come.

"Our timeline is definitely tight," said Francis. "Right now, we are anticipating that our cash flow really tightens up for us in the New Year."

Anyone who wishes to donate to the cause can donate on the YMCA of Northeastern Ontario's website.