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Y to start fundraising campaign

The Southside Family YMCA will be having a “New Year, New Y” fundraising campaign during the month of January to “help serve a greater community that may or may not be able to afford membership” without the help of donations, according to Brad Watson, the Southside Family YMCA board’s vice chairman.

Brad Watson

“I think that the support our community has shown the YMCA over the last year and a half proves the value they see in having it in our community and the fact that they really want it here,” Watson said, regarding the role the community has played in the YMCA’s financial turn around. “It is something that serves every person in our community regardless of their race, creed, financial situation — it doesn’t matter. Everyone is welcome, and it’s a nice thing to have in our community.”

In September, Watson announced the YMCA will receive a $150,000 matching grant from Centra Southside Community Hospital over the course of the next three years and noted changes for the Y between 2016 and 2017 as including a repaired pool where preventative maintenance is done regularly, all bills having been paid and the mortgage payment having been brought down to $8,000 a month compared to a previous monthly payment of $19,000.

“It has been a heck of a turnaround in a short period of time,” Watson said in September.

The YMCA’s Board Chairman, Roma Morris, said those interested in contributing could give at the YMCA, contact anyone on the board or contact the center’s executive director, Stephen Blewett. She said there may also be an option to contribute online at http://www.southsidevafamilyymca.org/.

“This is such a nice facility for our community, and it’s the only one in our seven-county area … like this that offers so many good services,” Morris said.

According to Blewett, approximately 12 percent of Prince Edward County residents are members of the Y, 40 percent of permanent Town of Farmville residents are members and roughly 4,000 people, from infants to seniors in the five-county area, are served.

He said the Y offers financial assistance to anyone who cannot afford to pay the full membership price but who wants the opportunity to use their facility or programs. Currently, 45 families are a part of the program.

The Y also offers before and after school care for 35 children in Prince Edward County. These children receive help with homework and healthy snacks.

“I’ve worked for the Y for 19 years, so all up and down the east coast, some large organizations such as the Metropolitan D.C. Y, the Raleigh Y, the Virginia Beach Y as well as the Greenville Association, and (I) truly know that the YMCA is community,” Blewett said. “It’s from an 8-year-old who’s learning how to swim to that 92-year-old who comes and swims laps. We’re really about taking care of mind, body and spirit, and it’s amazing, on a day-to-day basis, the different types of people you can see here at the Y, and that just shows you how much it means to the community.”