GREENVILLE — The Darke County YMCA kicked off its Annual Community Partners Campaign Wednesday evening, with a total campaign goal of $175,000 for 2016.
The annual support campaign provides funds to provide membership and services for local children and families, enabling them to make more positive and healthy lifestyle choices. Charitable gifts provided through the campaign provide access for individuals and families who want and need YMCA membership and programs but may not otherwise be able to afford them.
“People don’t give to the needs of the Y,” said Darke County YMCA CEO and Executive Director Sam Casalano. “The Y doesn’t have needs. The people we serve have needs. We have the solution.”
The YMCA provides wellness programs, summer camps, water safety classes, youth sports, swim lessons, self-defense, safe after-school programming, childcare and a variety of other opportunities for children and families to interact and spend quality time in a safe and positive environment.
The Y makes these programs and facilities available to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay, so the support campaign enables the Y to provide financial assistance and support programming for everyone.
The YMCA is a charitable, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, so by law, at least 10 percent of its funding must come from donations. Pledges can be paid monthly, quarterly, semiannual or annual. Contributions are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law, and 100 percent of donations stay in Darke County for membership support, child care and programs.
During the campaign kickoff meeting, YMCA Jeff Hufnagle spoke about what the Y has meant to him. Hufnagle was a musician who suffered a devastating stroke five years ago that left him paralyzed on one side and took his ability to speak.
“It took away everything I loved in life,” Hufnagle said.
He went on to spend a couple of years institutionalized in a hospital, and when he got out, he was in a wheelchair. He came to Greenville to live near his family.
“After going to numerous therapy facilities … I wanted to take a little bit more responsibility for my own recovery, so I thought I would join the YMCA,” Hufnagle said. “It was close to home. It was close to work and stuff, so in bad weather, I would have a place to come and maybe walk in shelter.”
Hufnagle feared the water at first, since he had no control over his left side, but he soon found the pool to be one of his favorite self-therapy options. “Today I swam 200 yards,” he said.
He said one of the best things about the YMCA is that it is a safe place. If he falls, he knows someone will be there to help him, and every time he comes in, he knows he will be warmly greeted by everyone he encounters.
“Besides the physical rehabilitation stuff is the social aspect of being able to be with people, where I felt complete cut off from people before,” Hufnagle said. “When I first went into the hospital, part of my brain was destroyed. I lost all of my ability for language. I couldn’t speak, and I couldn’t understand when somebody spoke to me.”
He said it was nice to have a place like the Y where he could be involved, and people knew him by name.
The campaign volunteers each spoke briefly about their own history with the YMCA and what it has meant to them over the years. A recurring theme throughout the stories was the safe space provided by the Y, as well as the sense of community and family.
The mission of the Darke County YMCA is to put Christian principles into practice to benefit all Darke County residents through programs that build a healthier mind, body and spirit, but everyone is welcome at the Y, regardless of age, race, religion, income or ability.
Reach the writer at 937-569-4354 or on Twitter @RachelLloydGDA. Join the conversation at Facebook.com/Advocate360 or visit our website at www.dailyadvocate.com.
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