The South Sound YMCA’s Annual Campaign is underway and volunteers are on a mission around the community to get the word out about what the YMCA does with the charitable contributions that it receives. Many people are familiar with the health and fitness aspects of the Y, like the gym, pools and fitness classes. However, those services make up a small part of what the YMCA offers to the people it serves.
Last year the South Sound YMCA put a total of $652,327 back into the community. Over half of that money came from the Annual Campaign. This year’s campaign goal is $345,000 which will go a long way towards South Sound YMCA’s charitable mission.
Jennifer Willms, Director of Development for the SSYMCA, says that reaching this goal would be impossible without hard working volunteers. These volunteers are out in the community building connections and getting the word out to others about the good that the association does for so many in Thurston, Mason and north Lewis counties. Volunteers are often recipients of YMCA scholarships themselves or have seen somebody else succeed from the help that the YMCA has been able to give. “They become passionate about it because they see firsthand the impact that the Y makes in the community,” Willms shares.
Mary Gibbons is a local physician and the Briggs Branch Annual Campaign chair. She has found that volunteering at the YMCA is not only a fulfilling experience, but an opportunity for personal growth. Gibbons points out that volunteers gain valuable leadership skills and experience working within nonprofits. “Having a good Y is foundational to a community,” Gibbons says.
Scott Beckwith is the Downtown Branch Annual Campaign chair. “The good done by the YMCA won’t just happen on its own,” Beckwith states. “A lot of people have been touched by the YMCA in their life.”
Each YMCA is run independently of others across the nation. This allows each association to tailor their goals and programs to the needs of the community they serve, while still keeping an eye on the overall values of the greater YMCA organization. The South Sound Y currently offers a number of programs geared towards our region. A few are highlighted to demonstrate the magnitude of the South Sound YMCA’s involvement with the people of our area.
For dual working families and single parent households, providing reliable and affordable before and after school care can be a challenge, which is why the South Sound YMCA provides this service at 29 sites in and around Thurston and Lewis counties. Known commonly as Y Care, the sites are state licensed and provide curriculum-based care designed to foster social, emotional, physical and academic growth for the children they support.
Single mother, Dani Madrone, sends her daughter to Y Care. “When I finally secured stable employment, my biggest concern was where my daughter would be before and after school,” Madrone shares. “Regular office hours are not compatible with school schedules.” Madrone’s concerns are the same as so many parents. “When I learned about the YMCA’s after school care, I found the perfect solution,” she continues. “I could drop her off at school in the morning, and pick her up there at the end of the day. The staff are friendly and reliable, and the cost of care was affordable with my new job. I don’t know what I would do without Y Care.”
Livestrong at the YMCA is a 12-week program created for adult cancer survivors. The small group program is designed to help survivors transition back to normal life or to their new normal with support from other survivors just like them and with a focus on health. The Livestrong program is provided at no cost to participants when they are ready for it. Without the Annual Campaign, this program would not be available to the many cancer survivors throughout the community.
Support for the Annual Campaign also provides funding for Power Scholars Academy, a five week program which helps lessen the effects of summer learning loss, or the summer slide. The summer slide is a challenge faced by many children, but particularly children from lower income homes or children with other obstacles like learning disabilities. The South Sound YMCA is the only site to offer Power Scholars in the state of Washington and provides this program with a partnership with BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life). This program is not just a benefit to students and their families, but also teachers and classrooms as a whole. With more students returning to school in the fall prepared to begin new material, less in class time can be spent on review and catching up.
Last year’s Power Scholars showed measurable growth, gaining between two and two and a half months in their reading and math skills. Power Scholars begins its third year this summer with a goal to reach 240 children in the Olympia, North Thurston and Tumwater school districts. This program is provided at no cost to families. It is made possible by the generous contributions of our community through the Annual Campaign.
These three programs are just a few of many the YMCA has to offer, which is why the Annual Campaign is so important.
Willms wants to remind prospective donors that no contribution is too small. There are a variety of ways to donate, from one time contributions to monthly or quarterly pledges. Donors can give online, call the YMCA to set up a donation or visit the Briggs or Downtown branches in person. For those who cannot financially contribute, but still want to help, consider the number of volunteer opportunities the Y has to help out throughout the community. The Annual Campaign runs through March 29.