By SHERIDAN ROY
The Southington-Cheshire Community YMCA kicked off its 2019 fundraising campaign on April 4 with the theme: “for a better us.” The YMCA focused on what it means to live in 06489—Southington’s zip code—and how one single digit difference could change everything.
The SCCYMCA fundraising goal of $350,000 helps aid Southington residents in a variety of ways through programs at the YMCA.
“It’s easy to be blind to the need right here in Southington,” said board of directors president Paul Bedard. “But, ultimately, no one is turned away from the YMCA. It’s not a hand out, but a helping hand.”
Tamara Lanthrop and her children are a testament to Bedard’s words. The single mother of three shared her tale of hardship and how the YMCA came in to help her rebuild her life after the unexpected happened.
She was living in a rented home and working as an emergency medical technician when the landlord announced the home would be sold. Lanthrop traveled to be close to her brother in New York in the meantime, but had trouble finding a place to live. She was living in a hotel while being turned down by numerous landlords, unable to afford a three bedroom apartment but not being qualified for a two bedroom with three children.
Lanthrop tried to get help from the state of New York but was denied. She ended up in a motel in Danbury, then Southington, still commuting to work in New York as a part-time EMT. She was approached by the department of children and families (DCF) who threatened to take her children, and was denied by homeless shelters. In the end, she found the YMCA.
“The YMCA opened a whole new world for us. They took my kids into daycare, allowing me to go to work, and I knew they were in a safe environment where they could thrive,” said Lanthrop. She just graduated from her paramedic program in December 2018, and saved up enough to rent a place to live in the meantime.
“We had lost everything and only had the clothes on our backs,” she said. “This community filled our apartment with furniture, clothes, a washer and drier—everything.”
Tresa Baczewski also shared her experience with the YMCA through the LiveSTRONG program after learning she had breast cancer.
“The program was so comforting to me. I had a sense of belonging,” said Baczewski. “No one should battle alone. My LiveSTRONG family encouraged me and gave me the tools to continue on.”
One of the programs at the YMCA, Race4Chase, memorializes one of the young victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Chase Kowalski. As part of the 2019 fundraising campaign, the YMCA hopes to raise $15,000 for this year’s triathlon.
The YMCA will be doing a 26-day challenge—one day for every victim of the incident. For each day of the challenge, a volunteer will run 2.6 miles. Each runner will raise $350. The fundraising allows for youth to participate in Race4Chace at no cost.
To donate to the 2019 fundraising campaign or to learn more about SCCYMCA programs, visit www.sccymca.org, call (860) 426-9610 or stop by at 29 High St.