Wapak YMCA campaign aims to change lives

Longtime Wapakoneta businessman Van Wright stood in the middle of a community room at the Wapakoneta Family YMCA he helped build more than 10 years ago. All eyes in the room were on him.

“We’re in one business — the life changing business,” Wright said. “No one has more value at the Y than another, we’re all Y members, we’re all part of the same community. There’s only one way that can happen — and that’s with the scholarship campaign.”

The annual event for the Wapakoneta Family Y and its volunteers is a campaign to raise funds to be able to award “scholarships” to those unable to afford the full cost of a YMCA membership. Wright, who was instrumental in bringing a YMCA facility to Wapakoneta 12 years ago, is chairing the effort. Alan Davis is the co-chair.

This year’s campaign goal is $65,000 — keeping in mind that last year’s effort raised $70,000 it is considered attainable. Wright told those gathered at the kick-off to keep in mind that last year’s total scholarships had a value of $90,000.

“There is a need in the community,” Wright said.

One hundred percent of the monies raised stay in the community, Wright told the volunteers gathered at the kick-off event Tuesday morning at the local facility.

“When people ask, ‘where does the money go?’ that’s what you tell them,” Wright said. “All of it goes to the community.”

Scholarships are awarded based on need. A committee meets monthly to consider the requests and every recipient pays something out of pocket. Eight hundred and twenty seven individuals benefitted from scholarship assistance last year, assistance was also given to day camp and childcare participants, SPLASH program attendees and for Healthy Kids Day.

The volunteers gathered for the kickoff heard from two scholarship recipients, one whose degenerative disc issues are a bit alleviated from time she spends in the pool, and a custodial grandmother of two girls who wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate in Y programming.

Wapakoneta YMCA CEO Josh Little reported 100 percent of both the Y staff and the board of directors had helped kick start the campaign with pledge donations. On Tuesday he also accepted a check for $1,000 from the Wapakoneta Rotary Club, presented by Ron Gaisor and a check for $1,500 from the Wapakoneta Sertoma Club, presented by Jon Derryberry.

While the Y accepts donations year-round as a “charity of choice,” the support campaign continues through March 7.