YMCA Spotlights its Impact at Annual Campaign Kick-off

The YMCA of Rock River Valley has activated nearly two hundred volunteers for its annual campaign, which allows the Y to invest in the community For a Better Us. The annual campaign kick-off was held March 23 at Prairie Street Brewhouse. The Y exceeded its $1.1 million goal last year and has set out to raise $1.3 million in 2017. So far, $426,460 has been raised this year.

The For a better us campaign is meant to change the perception of the Y and raise awareness of the work it does in the areas of youth development, healthy living and social responsibility to address pressing social issues in the Rock River Valley region. These issues include access to safe places to play; healthy living and prevention programs; college and career readiness programs; and mentorship and volunteerism opportunities—all in service of making us better as individuals, as a community and as a nation.

“Crime rates – especially among teens – is a concern to many Rockford residents and one we’re focused on at the Y,” said Michelle Gorham, Chief Advancement Officer, YMCA of Rock River Valley. “We launched our Project 505 initiative two years ago to increase access for teens, provide mentoring opportunities and instill values through volunteerism. We are proud to report we have 292 teens receiving free memberships and who have contributed more than 8,000 volunteer hours. We couldn’t provide these free memberships without the support of our donors.” 

Benjamin Thompson, 17, is a Project 505 member who is actively involved with Teen Reach, RAISE and Achievers. He spoke at the kick-off and shared the impact the Y has had on him.

“By attending these programs, I have gained a better perspective on the importance of choosing a college, gaining employment and how I can change the world,” said Thompson. 

Research shows that while people know and love the Y, they are not clear about the charitable work that is done, which is often carried out behind the scenes. Below are just some of the ways the Y served the community with the help of charitable gifts.

•    23,327 free lunches served last summer during camp
•    16 kids from Rockford Rescue Mission attended camp for free
•    Togetherhood volunteer initiative recruited 1,379 volunteers who gave 34,000 hours
•    12 of our special friends compete on the Pennock Penguins, the Y’s special needs swim team
•    120 students earned their GED in partnership with the Workforce Connection and Rock Valley College
•    80 women of Muslim faith participate in Ladies Night and learn to swim in a private setting 
•    7 people accepted Christ in partnership with Youth for Christ
•    206 cancer survivors completed LIVESTRONG at the YMCA 
•    1,100 youth in after school achievement programs every afternoon
•    $927,589 provided in scholarships and subsidies to ensure affordable access for all

“The Y serves more than 50 thousand people each year,” said J Hanley, YMCA Major Gifts Campaign Chair. “With the opening of the YMCA Children’s Learning Center in January and the anticipated opening of the Puri Family YMCA in April, we have the potential to reach more people than ever before. We are asking the community to donate to our cause and help us ensure all individuals have the support they need to achieve their full potential.”

If you’re interested in making a donation to the 2017 annual campaign, please visit www.rockriverymca.org/give or call the Mission Advancement office at 779-500-0800.