YMCA Community Dinner Touts Inclusion

The YMCA of Rock River Valley hosted its 8th annual YMCA Community Dinner at Giovanni’s. More than 500 people attended the event, which highlighted inclusion services at the Y and the organization’s mission of being a place “For All.” Mandy Harvey was the featured speaker. Harvey is an American singer-songwriter who lost her hearing at age eighteen due to a connective tissue disorder forcing her to abandon her dream of becoming a choir director. She eventually returned to music in 2008 and found herself as a finalist on America’s Got Talent in 2017 where she was Simon Cowell’s Golden Buzzer Winner.

Harvey’s message is universal….Hope, dream, believe, no matter what. As an Ambassador for No Barriers USA, she travels the country to heighten awareness, break down divides, challenge stereotypes, and lead the charge toward a brighter future for all.

“Mandy’s message speaks to us because just as the Y’s mission says we are here for all, she is on a personal mission to do the same,” said Brent Pentenburg, CEO, YMCA of Rock River Valley. “Those words pack a punch. ‘For All’ leaves no room for exclusion and very clearly defines our target audience. Everyone is welcome at the Y regardless of income, race, age, ethnicity, religion or any other category we have given to one another.”

The Y’s inclusion services are an integral part of programs like Kids’ Time after school and summer camp. The goal is to prevent children from being turned away from programs because of disabilities and challenges like autism, ADHD, physical disabilities, and more. 

The YMCA launched its 2020 annual campaign at the dinner. Inclusion services are just one of the many programs supported through generous community donations. The Y has a goal to raise $1.3 million this year with help from annual campaign chair, Mike Broski. So far, the Y has raised $ $396,144.

“Our focus is on developing youth in our community. We never want a child to feel left out or isolated because of their differences,” said Michelle Gorham, Chief Advancement Officer, YMCA of Rock River Valley. “The For All Inclusion Program ensures this doesn’t happen. We need further community support to expand our reach to ensure all families have the resources they need.”

The YMCA also presented four awards during the dinner. The winners are as follows:
  • Judson University 2-year Scholarship – Shavonda Walker
  • YMCA Antonio Little Teen Leadership Award and $1500 Scholarship – Victoria Wu, Auburn High School
  • Antonio Little Memorial Scholarship - Rashad Ahmad, Guilford High School
  • YMCA Community Leader Award – Linda Zuba
  • YMCA Outstanding Business Impact Award – Stateline Church
Funds raised at the YMCA Community Dinner support the programs and services of the Y - opening the doors to all. If you’re interested in making a donation to the 2020 annual campaign, click here or call the Mission Advancement office at 779-500-0800.