By JOHN GORALSKI
Hacah Boros shared her story to the gathering of local philanthropists and public officials, applauding the YMCA for helping her to get her family back on track after the death of her husband. YMCA member Jerry Polito applauded the staff and the donations for helping him and his grandchildren through a difficult time in his life.
On Friday, March 4, the Southington Community YMCA kicked off their annual campaign with a breakfast that highlighted the way the organization transforms lives in the community. There was no talk about additions or upgrades to the YMCA buildings or equipment. The annual campaign focuses on the work that the YMCA does outside the campus, in the community, for the people who truly need it.
This year’s theme is “Transforming Lives.”
“Lives are changed here every day,” said YMCA Board Secretary Mary Yuskis. “We want everyone to have an opportunity to experience the life-transforming opportunities that happen at our Y.”
This year’s goal is a lofty one: to raise $318,800 for program assistance, scholarships to Camp Sloper, financial assistance for child care and membership. Donations are used to fund the Outreach Program, which provides a free afterschool program for underprivileged youth.
“Not everyone realizes it, but there are families and seniors who are really struggling financially in this town,” said Diane Botsacos, the chairperson for the annual campaign. “We stand in line with them at the grocery store and our kids and grandkids go to school with them.”
Last year, the organization was able to provide approximately $80,000 in assistance for membership and programs, but the rest was used throughout the community. Over $35,000 was used for the Outreach Program. Over $60,000 was used for teen programs, and $77,000 used to assist families with child care needs.
The assistance is not a hand-out. Money is used to build a partnership with those in need, and that’s what makes the annual campaign different than other charity drives.
Boros talked about how the assistance helped her family to get back on track after her husband’s death. The YMCA offered child care, camp scholarships, and Adventure Camp, but the family was able to do its part, raising funds through the Polar Plunge and getting involved in the Activate Southington program.
The assistance helped Boros and her children recover, and they were able to contribute to that recovery process.
“Especially with the loss of a parent, having that community and support system is so important,” she said. “I appreciate everything that the Y has done to make that possible.”
Polito shared a similar story. After losing a job and facing a medical condition, he found himself overweight and dealing with isolation, anxiety, and depression. Through membership assistance, he was able to transform his life, and the lives of his grandchildren, to become an important and dedicated part of the community.
“I know that this place does so much good for so many people,” Polito said. “The Y has been so kind to me, and it isn’t just the membership…They told me that my grandkids would always have a home here at the Y.”
Now, the YMCA will look to build their commitment with an even larger goal than previous years, and that will enable them to reach even further into the community. Once again, the money will be used to help people throughout the Southington community in their quest to transform their lives.
“Every dollar that the Y raises through this Annual Campaign and through special events like the Polar Plunge and Forever in Blue Jeans helps someone in need in our community by giving them a Y experience,” said Deb Denorfia, co-chair of the Blakeslee Society. “It does not buy treadmills or chlorine for the pool or pay the electric bill. Membership dues pay for those expenses. Every charitable dollar raised goes directly to transforming lives for those who need the Y the most.”
To find out more about the annual campaign or to make a donation, www.sccymca.org/social-responsibility/give-to-the-y.