Kennett Area YMCA kicks off annual fundraising campaign

FRAN MAYE - The Kennett PaperThe Kennett YMCA has kicked off its annual fundraising campaign. Pictured from left: Doug Nakashima, executive director of the Kennett Area YMCA, Jenna Bowman, Kesi Bowman, Anielle Standing, Izzy Standing, and Naomi Young, chair of the community campaign.

KENNETT SQUARE >> The Kennett Area YMCA held its 2016 annual campaign kickoff Tuesday night at the Market at Liberty Place. The money raised will go to help families who can’t afford things like child care, sending their children to summer camp, or learning how to swim.

“This allows us to provide financial assistance for anyone who needs it in our community,” said Heather Richter-Merritt Connolly, associate executive director of the Kennett Area YMCA.

Connolly said that last tyear, the Kennett Area YMCA provided $623,000 in financial assistance to 2,545 local families. The funds also helped more than 200 children learn to swim, and provided child care to families living well below the poverty level.

Doug Nakashima, executive director of the Kennett Area YMCA, said not one is turned away due to an inability to pay membership fees.

At the kickoff event, all vendors at the Market at Liberty Place donated 15 percent of the day’s receipts to the cause.

The campaign is part of a larger goal by the YMCA of the Greater Brandywine to raise $1.3 million in the next six weeks.

“We are really excited and proud of all we are going to do for the community,” said Bob Shope, board chair for the YMCA of Greater Brandywine. “There are a lot of Y stories. When you hear these stories, you’ll be inspired,”

Despite Chester County being the wealthiest county in Pennsylvania, many families and children are in significant need. Funds raised provide programs and services that without the Y’s support would not be available.

Kids learn vital water safety lessons to help prevent them from drowning in the Safety Around Water program, which last year reached thousands of children in Chester County. The 1 out of 10 kids home alone in the summer get the opportunity to discover the fun of summer camp where they make friends, learn new skills and experience character building lessons every day. In 2015, close to 5,000 kids, who otherwise would be home alone, had fun in summer camp.

Leo Parsons, campaign chair, talked about the reason ‘why’ he finds it so important to support the work of the Y in the community,

“For me, it’s the kids. Every child in the county needs access to learn to swim or go to camp or be with other families and kids in a safe environment. I didn’t realize until my wife, Maryanne, started taking our own kids to the Y all of the services it provides and the impact it can have on a family. All of this made me think even more, that this is where I really want to be involved and have an impact” said Parsons.

To give or learn more about the annual campaign, visit www.ymcagbw.org/donate/giving.

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