MAPLEWOOD, NJ — It is that time of year again: the South Mountain YMCA’s annual fundraiser! This year’s theme is space and the Y hopes to raise $165,000 by year’s end to support its many programs and events.
The South Mountain YMCA is one of six Y branches that make up the Metro YMCA of the Oranges; combined, these six branches impact 75,000 people per year, according to South Mountain YMCA Executive Director James Goodger.
“The annual support campaign kicked off in spectacular fashion at the Hanover Manor,” Goodger told the News-Record earlier this week via email. The kickoff event, held Jan. 23, involved space-themed activities and the chance to meet some real Martians, aka Y staff in spacesuits and green-face.
According to Goodger, the decision to go with a space theme was a no-brainer, “because the SOMA community is ‘out of this world!’”
He added that, this year, the South Mountain YMCA is “helping our community reach for the stars” and encouraging everyone to “get on board” this ship.
And, according to Goodger, this is the perfect time for community members to donate to the Y and become involved in other ways, learning what the Y has to offer.
“As one of our Y parents puts it, the South Mountain YMCA impacts so many children in so many positive ways,” Goodger said. “The funds raised during the annual support campaign make in important impact in our South Orange-Maplewood community. We are able to provide our dynamic programs and vital services for the entire community, including those who cannot afford them. Financial support is provided for full-time child care, summer day camp, before- and after-school care, and participation in athletic, theater and other enrichment programs.”
And Goodger pointed out that, just because a specific person is not participating in Y activities, does not mean they are not benefiting, as the whole community sees the good the South Mountain YMCA does.
“YMCA members are joined together by a shared commitment to strengthen our community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility,” Goodger said. “In our families and neighborhoods, issues such as unemployment, educational disparities and poverty affect the strength of our communities. But where society falls short, the Y, with the help of donors, steps in to effect lasting, meaningful personal and social change.
“People should support the South Mountain YMCA so that every child has an opportunity and every family can get support, so our diverse community continues to thrive,” Goodger continued.
Among the South Mountain Y’s many areas of focus, Goodger highlighted the organization’s commitment to youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.
“All kids deserve the opportunity to discover who they are and what they can achieve, under the guidance of caring adults who believe in their potential. We see every interaction with young people as an opportunity for learning and development — all grounded in the Y’s core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility,” Goodger said. “We help people and families build and maintain healthy habits in their everyday lives. By helping kids, adults, families and seniors from all walks of life improve their health and well-being, we built a stronger community.
“With our doors open to all, we bring together people from all backgrounds, and support those who need us most,” he continued. “We take on the most urgent needs in our community and inspire a spirit of service in return. Our members, volunteers, supporters and staff demonstrate the power of what we can achieve by giving back together.”
According to Goodger, 100 percent of funds raised from this campaign provide financial assistance to local families through scholarships, both for programs and services.
“The South Orange-Maplewood community is extraordinarily diverse with regard to economics,” Goodger said. “Because of a strong YMCA and its many supporters of the annual support campaign, we are about to open our doors wide for all members of the community and ensure access to high-quality YMCA programs. We believe every child deserves a YMCA experience.
“This financial support is also important for families that experience life-altering events, like the loss of a family member, the loss of a job or a financial change in circumstance,” he continued. “In these cases, the Y has the resources to create the financial bridge needed to maintain stability for the children. The fact is that one in 10 children that participate in South Mountain YMCA programs receive financial assistance.”
Other activities planned for this annual campaign include a “Friends of the Y” appreciation event in May for current donors, the famous duck race in Maplewood Memorial Park on Memorial Day and a November party at The Woodland.
“I love the campaign and the events associated with it, like the duck race and donor appreciation events,” Goodger said. “I know this incredibly dedicated and tenured staff loves the campaign; it is what makes working for this nonprofit organization so rewarding. To think that those who are blessed donated to support others, that they do it so that others have the opportunities they have, that they recognize that the Y can level the playing field (is amazing). This is why we are here. The Y is a vital resource and it is just amazing to see the community at large recognize and embrace that.”
To get on board with the South Mountain YMCA’s campaign, visit http://tinyurl.com/smygive.
Photos Courtesy of James Goodger