YMCA programs are worthy of your support

Editor,

As an active member of the YMCA of Southwest Michigan for over 10 years, an active board member for over 10 years and an active annual donor, it is my honor to support the YMCA in any way I can.

While initially the YMCA was a great place for me to get away occasionally on a lunch hour to attempt to keep my body in shape, I quickly learned that there is a lot going on at the Y beyond what we see when we walk in the doors. The YMCA of Southwest Michigan has grown to be a leader in collaboration with many other groups who are working together for the betterment of our communities.

Our Y served over 12,000 members in 2018. That is a lot of people who have an opportunity to share opinions about what is needed in the community. Through these members, and a multitude of community leaders, we heard that we have several ways to continue to enhance life in Southwest Michigan:

1. We can grow our physical location to serve more adults and teens, which we are doing at the Niles-Buchanan location starting this summer.

2. We can partner with local companies and municipal organizations to expand countywide programs such as diabetes prevention, before- and after-school care for our local students, Livestrong cancer survivor support, and home school support.

3. We also want to make sure that financial restrictions in our communities are not factors that leave anyone out who is interested in joining the Y and/or participating in Y events and programming.

Our Annual Giving Campaign is specifically set up to help offset these financial limitations in our communities. Drowning is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 5-14. In 2018, the Y served over 3,900 youth in our community through water safety and swim clubs to help reduce this tragedy. One in four children is unsupervised after school. Between preschool and before- and after-school programs, our Y served over 550 students in 2018. Two of three older adults have multiple chronic health issues. The healthy programs already mentioned and the sense of community built at the Y are invaluable in the lives of those members.

Our annual giving goal in 2019 is $100,000. These dollars help the Y to keep up with the continuous needs uncovered within our communities so that those who might not otherwise come into the Y cannot only come in but can participate in life-changing activities. Please join me as a member, board member and donor in contributing to the Y in your community today.

Thomas Grant

Granger, Ind.