YMCA expects annual drive exceeds goal

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — At age 7, Brad Davis was able to join the Central YMCA on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh through a scholarship the Y offered with funds contributed to its annual We Build People campaign.

Today, as manager of the new Alexander Family YMCA that this year replaced the Central YMCA, Davis sees the annual campaign as key to making a difference in the lives of other children.

“We’re giving kids a wonderful place to come and build strong relationships with friends, role models for them to emulate, and a real positive sense of their future,” he says.

Chaired by Greg Owen, a senior vice president at Wachovia Wealth Management, the Alexander Family YMCA campaign raised $840,000, exceeding its goal of $675,000 and the record-high $658,000 raised last year, says Davis.

Overall, the YMCA of the Triangle Area expects its annual campaign to exceed its goal of $3.5 million, says John Mitterling, senior vice president for financial development.

Chaired by Ann Goodnight, director of community relations at SAS, the overall campaign includes separate drives for the Alexander Family YMCA and eight other branches, plus three camps and the YMCA’s administrative offices.

The Alexander Family YMCA, which opened the first phase of its new facility in August, is believed to raise more money in its annual campaign than any other YMCA branch in the United States, Davis says.

All funds raised in the Alexander Family YMCA campaign are used to support programs for 1,100 children, providing scholarships for children whose families could not otherwise afford traditional YMCA programs such as after-school activities, memberships and summer-day camps, and supporting special programs for children facing particularly difficult challenges, Davis says.

For one outreach program, known as “Y Learning,” for example, the Alexander Family YMCA this year is partnering with five schools to provide after-school tutoring for 150 students not expected to pass the end-of-grade test.

Eight in 10 students who have participated in the 10-year-old program, which could expand to six schools with funds raised in this year’s campaign, have gone on to exceed expectations and pass the end-of-grade test, Davis says.

He says opening of the YMCA’s new facility has helped boost the number of family and individual memberships to over 3,800 from 2,650 a year ago.

With a total cost of $17 million for both phases, the first phase included 60,000 square feet that houses a wellness center, men’s and women’s health centers, a larger gym and an indoor running track.

The second phase, scheduled to be completed early in 2009, will include racquetball courts, a larger swimming pool, and youth and family locker rooms.

The new facility was financed in part with funds from a capital campaign that raised $18.7 million, exceeding its goal of $16.9 million.

That campaign also included funds for Camp Kanata in Durham, and Camp Seagull and Camp Seafarer, both in Arapahoe, and for the new Kraft Family YMCA scheduled to open in March in Southwest Wake County.

Davis says donations to the annual campaign are critical for helping families help themselves.

After a single mother relocated to Raleigh from New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, for example, her three children received scholarships to enroll in the YMCA’s after-school program, giving their mother an opportunity to “get her feet on the ground,” Davis says.

She now works part-time for the YMCA.

The campaign, Davis says, is “giving someone the resources to put their family back together.”

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