The Cassville YMCA has launched its 2009 Strong Kids fundraising campaign and set a goal of $10,000, which is twice what the local organization raised last year.
With a dip in the economy, the local YMCA is seeing increased usage of the facility and its programs and is also experiencing a rising demand for scholarship assistance. This past year, the number of families in Cassville needing financial help to participate in YMCA programs has more than doubled.
According to Michelle Bredeson, director of the Cassville YMCA, it is the policy of the YMCA that no one is denied membership or program participation due to the inability to pay.
"The Strong Kids financial aid program helps make funds available to assist those in need," said Bredeson.
Last year, local residents raised $5,000 during the Strong Kids campaign. During 2008, the Cassville YMCA awarded $10,900.88 in financial aid for membership and programs. In 2009, that total is expected to exceed $15,000.
Funds raised in Cassville stay in Cassville, according to Bredeson. The money also goes farther in Cassville because the programs cost less to operate than in other areas of the region. For example, a child can participate in a season of youth soccer or flag football for $35 as compared to $55 in the Springfield area.
YMCA programs are built on Christian principles and include a foundation of four character values: caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. Programs offered at the Cassville YMCA include fitness, childcare, youth sports, swimming and arts and humanities classes.
"Research shows that YMCA programs contribute to positive youth development," said Bredeson. "Children who enroll in YMCA programs have more learning opportunities, are more active and spend less time watching television."
This year, donors who donate at the $1,000 level or above will have their name or business logo printed on a banner that will hang in the YMCA facility. Anyone who gives $100 or more will have their name or business listed on another banner.
"We encourage pledges and monthly or quarterly payments to our Strong Kids program, which allows for a larger gift when it can be split up over a year," said Bredeson.
Those who make a donation of $25 provide a young child with two weeks of swimming lessons while a donation of $500 can provide a one-year YMCA membership to three at-risk teenagers. A $2,500 gift would provide five families with full-year memberships.
Members of the Cassville YMCA Board, who include Susie Jacobs, Becky Ryder, Jerry Marple, Lisa Schlichtman, Stacy Runnels, Barbara White and Bob Foulke, will also be making personal contacts with area residents to encourage support of the Strong Kids campaign.
"When people donate to this campaign, they are investing in kids and families, and you can't make a better investment than that," said Bredeson.
Donations can be dropped off at the Cassville YMCA facility, which is located on Highway 248. For more information about the campaign, call Bredeson at 846-1535.