YMCA Strong Kids Campaign Kicks Off

The YMCA of the Chesapeake recently kicked off its 2011 Strong Kids Campaign at a celebration in the Easton Family YMCA’s Thomas E. Hill Center for Youth Development.   The Strong Kids Campaign keeps the Y available for kids and families who need it.  With the help of grants, member and community support, the YMCA of the Chesapeake will award over $375,000 in financial assistance in 2011, up significantly from 2005 when $40,000 was awarded.  Programs supported by the Campaign include the YMCA’s day camp, Camp Lazy Days, dinner club, St. Michaels youth program, afterschool programs, Caroline County wellness programs, Queen Anne’s County afterschool program and overall YMCA membership and programs.

According to Robbie Gill, CEO of the YMCA of the Chesapeake, “We don’t turn anyone away due to financial need.”  He adds, “Nearly one quarter of children in our summer camping program received assistance in 2011.”

This year’s Campaign is aimed at soliciting support from the YMCA members themselves.  Gill comments, “We want to give our members the opportunity to make a difference by participating in the Campaign this year.  Every dollar raised goes to help someone.”

At the kickoff, Nancy Labat, Director of Community Engagement, stated, “I am reminded every day that there are people who really care about our community here at this YMCA.”  She shared a story at the celebration about a father faced with the challenge of raising his three children alone and how YMCA members assisted the family in helping the father find a job after he lost his job and to care for his children while he was working.  She adds, “Our job and mission is to be where we are needed in the community.  This story exemplifies that love, compassion and a sense of community can heal a family.”

Shirley Gooch, Chairperson of the 2011 Strong Kids Campaign, and a YMCA member since the 1960s explains that the needs in the community have changed, with social pressures increasing for our children, both parents having to work, and a growing elderly population.  She states, “The YMCA recognizes these changes and that is why I continue to support the Y.”  She adds, “I recently heard that what makes good leadership is a person who can create an atmosphere of ownership.  Robbie Gill has made this whole community feel like they are owners of our YMCA. We support the YMCA because of its good leadership and because these are programs we believe in.”

One in five YMCA members currently receive financial assistance to participate in membership and YMCA programs.  Gill adds, “In these tough economic times, taking time to care for oneself and one’s family is crucial.  The YMCA makes sure these opportunities are always available.”

For further information about donating to the YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign, contact F. Graham Lee, Chief Development Officer, YMCA of the Chesapeake, at 410-822-0566.

In photo: The YMCA of the Chesapeake recently kicked off its 2011 Strong Kids Campaign at a celebration in the Easton Family YMCA’s Thomas E. Hill Center for Youth Development. Pictured left to right are Graham Lee, Chief Development Officer, YMCA of the Chesapeake; Jennifer Strickland, COO of the YMCA of the Chesapeake; Shirley Gooch, YMCA Member and 2011 Strong Kids Campaign Chair;  Blenda Armistead, YMCA Board Member and Financial Development Committee Chair, YMCA of the Chesapeake; Nancy Labat, Director of Community Engagement, YMCA of the Chesapeake; and YMCA of the Chesapeake Board Chairman Bob Perkins.

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