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Yesterday, the Wall family of Wilton made a presentation to the Riverbrook Regional YMCA of a $5,000 grant from the Arthur J. Wall Foundation to support the Y’s Swim Access program, which provides free swim lessons to Norwalk children to reduce childhood drowning, and the Race4Chase program, a free summer triathlon camp program to reduce childhood obesity.
The presentation was the tip of the iceberg in GOOD news for the Wilton YMCA. The night before, Y officials made the announcement that $200,000 had been raised to give back to the populations served by the Riverbrook Regional YMCA (which serves Wilton, Norwalk and Redding).
Annual the Y raises money through its annual campaign to support financial aid programs. Typically, $200,000 is the amount that is raised each year, and it’s money that enables the Y to provide assistance to anyone who needs the Y for programs or services, but can’t afford it.
“[If] they have an inability to pay, we say, ‘No worries, we have financial aid, our Y is open to you,” explains development director Christene Freedman. “The Annual Campaign really makes sure our Y is accessible to anyone regardless of their inability to pay.”
The money raised through the campaign serves everyone and anyone, funding participation in programs for pre schoolers through seniors.
“Seniors, cancer survivors who want to participate in the LiveStrong program to regain their strength, but with medical bills behind them, they may not have the funds to do so we will give them the funds to do so. Or diabetes prevention; “Delay the Disease,” a Parkinson’s program; Healthy Weight and your Child; blood pressure monitoring, which may give someone a blood pressure monitoring cuff to use at home; pre-school; camp, and more. It’s everyone, from birth to seniors,” Freedman explains.
Half the money from the donation from the Wall family and the Arthur Wall Foundation specifically will support swim access, supporting 30 kids with free swim lessons; the other half will provide funding for 12 kids with free 6-week summer triathlon training camp in the Race for Chase program, open to both Wilton and Norwalk kids.
Working for an organization that does so much is immensely gratifying, says Freedman, who leads fundraising.
“It’s one of my most rewarding roles I’ve ever had at this organization, because we are raising money to give it back directly to the community. It’s not for a new boiler or for a new ceiling; we are raising money for people, and professionally and personally it’s so rewarding. We’re having an impact on people who really do need our programs and services.”
The need is definitely there within the Wilton community, explains Freedman.
“Even in our Wilton community, 1 in 10 people from Wilton need financial assistance to be part of our Y program. Support to our annual campaign insures that no one is turned away from the Y. Every piece from our community, every gift makes a difference. It’s really helping us build a better us. We really are strengthening our community,” she says.
It’s the kind of help Freedman says is incredible to be part of. She credits the entire team effort behind making it happen.
“I’ll be honest, I’ve been in development for 20 years, fundraising goes to the bottom line. We’re in a very special position, because of Bob [McDowell] as our CEO and our volunteer board members from Wilton, Norwalk and Redding who really provide that leadership. We’re a financially stable organization so we’re able to give back to the community,” Freedman added.
She notes that the Y is still accepting donations for the annual appeal to reach its fundraising goal. Anyone wishing to contribute can do so online.