South Sound YMCA – Changing Lives In Thurston County


south sound ymcaBy: Amy Rowley

On February 23, over 125 people will kick off the Y’s Strong Kids campaign.  Their mission – raise $366,000 to support financial assistance for kids, families, and seniors that need the Y’s services the most.

Campaigners will raise money by telling the Y story and sharing how each $1 makes a direct impact in Thurston County.  The campaign will generate about 70% of the total funds that the South Sound YMCA distributes in financial assistance

“The Y impacts thousands of lives each day.  310 people who walk through our door each day would not have been able to participate in Y programs without financial assistance,” explains Susan Callender, Director of Development and Marketing.  The South Sound YMCA anticipates that 60 additional families will lose state assistance for child care and will turn to the Y for direct assistance.

Carolee Johnson, a Y member, volunteer, and campaigner feels this impact personally.  “The Y changes lives.  Since becoming a member, I’m in better shape and I have learned so much.  I want to give back.”

Jessie Banning, a senior at Tumwater High School, is returning for her third year as a Strong Kids Campaigner.  Jessie watched her mom campaign and slowly worked into making her own calls.

south sound ymcaGrowing up in the Y and now employed in child care, Banning raises money so that “other kids can have the same experiences that I did.  It’s a fantastic feeling to secure a donation, even if it’s $5.  It’s helping so many people have an opportunity to use the Y.”

Johnson, who works with homeless youth, agrees and believes “if all these kids had access to a Y program, their life may be different.”

Donations support child care for kids such as Jaden who had difficulty completing homework assignments until the Y Care site director started working directly with Jaden’s teacher.  Jaden’s homework completion and grades have improved.

Financial assistance supports a wide variety of Y programs including summer camp, after school care, memberships, program fees, and the free Exercise & Thrive class designed to help cancer survivors regain their strength and lives while bonding with others who understand their situation.

Johnson was asked by a program director to join the campaign.  “My theory is if a child has something in their life that they love and gives them confidence and better health, then the child is happier, the family is happier and ultimately the community is happier,” she says while explaining why she chose to raise money for Strong Kids.

south sound YMCABanning sums up her experience as a Strong Kids Campaigner – “I have become a better person for helping others.”

To learn more, contact the South Sound YMCA at 360.753.6576 or by clicking here.

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