The Community YMCA marked 140 years of strengthening individuals and communities at its Annual Campaign kickoff Wednesday, Feb. 19, at the Family Health & Wellness Center in Red Bank.
More than 100 local residents and Y members gathered in the gymnasium to celebrate the milestone anniversary and to help the local nonprofit charity continue to make an impact by raising over $1 million this year to support YCares, a financial assistance program that provides reduced and free membership fees and programs to thousands of individuals and families in need.
“The Y has been part of the Monmouth County community for generations,” said President & CEO Rhonda Anderson. “We are proud of the impact that we’ve had in nurturing the potential of youth, helping people live healthier and giving back to our community.”
From its humble beginnings as a safe haven for young men in downtown Red Bank in 1874, to an organization that now serves over 20,000 people of all ages, incomes and backgrounds in Monmouth County and beyond, The Community YMCA has evolved to meet the changing needs of local communities, Anderson said.
The modern YMCA’s role is quite different from its original purpose as a gathering place for young men. The Y supports local families with preschool, before and afterschool care in area school districts, teen leadership programs, arts enrichment, personal and family counseling, and enriching summer day camp experiences. In addition to its signature swim program and fitness focus, the Y has taken on community health issues, such as combating childhood obesity through physical activity and nutrition programs in area schools, and being part of the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign in Red Bank, Anderson said.
One thing that hasn’t changed, Anderson noted, is the Y’s commitment to ensuring that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to be a part of the Y. The Annual Campaign helps the Y ensure that no one is turned away from participating in Y programs and services because of an inability to pay. Last year, the Campaign raised nearly $1 million, which went directly back into the community in the form of membership and program scholarships, the support for the construction of two playgrounds, the opening of the Bayshore Family Success Center in Union Beach and other initiatives.
The 2014 Campaign is led by Y Board member Jennifer Lakefield of Colts Neck, whose family has been a part of the Y for three generations. Lakefield invited Y members, local residents and businesses to become a part of the Y cause by supporting the Campaign with a donation.
The 140th anniversary celebration will continue throughout the year with story contests and history shared on the Y Web site and social media sites and will be highlighted at the Y’s Annual Gala on Sept. 27 at Camp Arrowhead in Marlboro.
To celebrate, The Y is introducing a 140th anniversary story contest on Monday, Feb. 24 on its Facebook page. The entire community is welcome to participate and share personal stories of how the Y has made a positive impact. Even if you’re not a current member, many people have a story to share about the Y. Those who do share a story will be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card. “Each individual story helps tell our story of how we’ve improved people’s lives for 140 years,” Anderson said. To learn more about the story sharing contest, visit the Y’s Web site.For more information about making a donation to support the Y’s Annual Campaign visit the Campaign Web site. To learn more about the Y, or get involved in the Annual Campaign, please contact Stephanie Ferrier, Senior Vice President of Financial Development, at 732.671.5505, ext. 119, email@example.com, or visit TheCommunityYMCA.org.
About The Community YMCAThe Y is a leading nonprofit charity that strengthens communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The Community YMCA serves more than 20,000 residents in greater Monmouth County through programs such as: preschool, before and after school care, health and wellness, leadership, arts enrichment, personal and family counseling and summer day camp. With a mission to serve all, more than $660,000 in reduced and free membership fees and programs is provided by the YCares financial assistance program to individuals and families in need. For more information, visit TheCommunityYMCA.org.