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posted: 12/9/2013 12:59 PM

Christmas tree sales support YMCA scholarships for families in need

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  • The B.R. Ryall YMCA operates before- and after-school child-care programs as well as day care. Scholarships are available to help families use the child-care programs.

      The B.R. Ryall YMCA operates before- and after-school child-care programs as well as day care. Scholarships are available to help families use the child-care programs.
    Daily Herald File Photo

  • Children and adults can learn to swim at the B.R. Ryall YMCA facility in Glen Ellyn, which also offers a swim team and water fitness.

      Children and adults can learn to swim at the B.R. Ryall YMCA facility in Glen Ellyn, which also offers a swim team and water fitness.
    Daily Herald File Photo

  • The B.R. Ryall YMCA offers a fitness center where members of all ages can take part in exercise programs and health classes. The Y offers scholarships to help ensure anyone can have access to its programs and facilities.

      The B.R. Ryall YMCA offers a fitness center where members of all ages can take part in exercise programs and health classes. The Y offers scholarships to help ensure anyone can have access to its programs and facilities.
    Courtesy of the B.R. Ryall YMCA

  • The B.R. Ryall YMCA in Glen Ellyn has a five-lane pool that is home to swim lessons for all ages, a swim team and water-based fitness programs.

      The B.R. Ryall YMCA in Glen Ellyn has a five-lane pool that is home to swim lessons for all ages, a swim team and water-based fitness programs.
    Courtesy of the B.R. Ryall YMCA

 
 

When you stop to think about what you want out of life, what the B.R. Ryall YMCA in Glen Ellyn offers sounds pretty good.

Healthy, active children who grow up with confidence and a connection to their community. Your own health and sense of well-being. The promise of an active, engaged life as an empty nester or retiree.

B.R. Ryall YMCA of Northwestern DuPage County, like Ys across the country and around the globe, aims to provide "programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all" through its fitness programs, swim lessons and teams, child care, arts and humanities classes and community events, says Dee Dee McDevitt, Ryall's vice president of membership and marketing.

It's the "for all" in the Y's mission that many of us often overlook.

As a nonprofit, the Y commits itself to providing scholarships that allow individuals and families to take part in programs, classes and child care, McDevit said. About 140 families receive assistance each month, and the need is increasing, with more families in Ryall's seven-community service area qualifying for the maximum level of aid, she said.

This month, the Ryall Y is selling Christmas trees to help fund the scholarship program, a fundraising effort with more than 40 years of tradition behind it. Roughly 500 trees are sold each year, raising $20,000 annually for scholarships. The lot is open daily through Christmas Eve at the Y, 49 Deicke Drive, Glen Ellyn.

Today, McDevitt tells us more about the organization's charitable side.

Q. What is the Y's mission?

A. To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.

Q. How do you work toward accomplishing that goal?

A. Through our cause of strengthening the foundations of community with a commitment to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility.

The Y ensures that every individual has access to the essentials to learn, grow and thrive. The Y is, and always will be, dedicated to building healthy, confident, connected and secure children, adults, families and communities.

Last year we gave away $220,000 in contributed support to help those who need it most. Through our scholarship program, we are able to help individuals and families with membership, child care and program fee assistance.

Q. Who do you serve?

A. We serve a very diverse demographic in seven communities: Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, West Chicago, Carol Stream, Glendale Heights, Warrenville and Winfield. We have about 6,400 Y members and hundreds of guests who enjoy our programs and services.

Our primary community served is families with children younger than 10. Our secondary community served is adults, individuals and youth. Our third-largest membership audience is our active older adult community who come to the Y for health and wellness and to socialize with others.

Q. When and why did the organization start? How has it grown?

A. The Young Men's Christian Association was born on June 6, 1844, when George Williams and a dozen of his friends in London, England, established the Young Men's Missionary Society. The movement spread rapidly.

The B.R. Ryall YMCA of Northwestern DuPage County began its life on Jan. 7, 1919, when a group of more than 50 men from all sections of DuPage County met for lunch at the Union League Club in Chicago. After discussions, they agreed to organize and support a YMCA for DuPage County. A committee was elected and given authority to raise a budget. B.R. stands for Bryant Raymond Ryall, 1883-1963.

Today, we serve 6,400 members and have meaningful collaborations with community partners, volunteers and generous donors.

Q. What kind of successes have you had?

A. Last year we provided more than $220,000 in community support to help individuals and families who need it most. We currently have more than 450 individuals and families receiving fee assistance for their Y memberships. We are doing a better job of informing the community about the impact the Y has on others.

This year we have hosted many successful fundraisers and events. Proceeds from the fundraisers go directly toward our scholarship program. Successful fundraisers include the annual campaign, the Race to Ryall and the golf outing.

In the next two months we will host a Christmas tree lot, execute a Thankathon to thank everyone who has supported the Y, and have an end-of-year appeal to raise contributions for community support.

Events and successful programs offered this past year include Healthy Kids Day, summer camp, Camp Hope, Try the Y Week, Community Cookout, Halloween Fun at the Y, the annual meeting and volunteer recognition ceremony and a Senior Pot Luck.

Q. What challenges does the Y face?

A. Getting the message into the community that we are a nonprofit, cause-driven 501(c)(3) charitable organization. We are seeing the need in our community becoming ever stronger, with basic needs like housing, clothing and food being primary necessities. More individuals and families who are asking the Y for help are qualifying for the maximum fee assistance we can provide.

Q. What do you wish the community at large knew about the Y?

A. Every day we put heroes in the lives of others so they can make better decisions for tomorrow. We help individuals find peace, balance and acceptance as we come together to strengthen community for the common good. Our work every day is about the Y's three areas of focus:

• Youth development -- nurturing the potential of every child and teen;

• Healthy living -- improving the community's health and well-being; and

• Social responsibility -- giving back and providing support to our neighbors.

We are the nation's second-largest nonprofit provider of child care and before- and after-school programs. We offer swim lessons, day camp, youth sports, adventure guides, preschool enrichment opportunities, swim team, group exercise, personal training, fitness consultation and orientation, nutrition counseling, health events and more.

Our social responsibility efforts include, but are not limited to, the tree lot, angel tree, annual support campaign, Race to Ryall, golf outing, Camp Hope, community engagement and collaborations with like community partners.

We are family focused with integrated programs and services. Our brand is credible. Our history is rich, local and national.

Values are integrated into program curriculum, our work is based on relationship-building and we have caring, certified staff. We are sustainable by membership fees, program fees, contributed support from donors and grants from foundations, to name a few.

Our voice is nurturing, genuine, hopeful, determined and welcoming. Our four core values are caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.

Our culture is warm, welcoming and friendly. Members and guests tell us repeatedly that they feel so happy when they come to the Y, and feel even better when they leave after a visit. It feels like one big family here at the Y.

Q. How can readers get involved?

A. Our community of members, volunteers, donors and friends all have the opportunity to help young people achieve their full potential, to empower people of all ages to lead healthier lifestyles and to strengthen bonds of community.

During the holiday season we invite the community to support the tree lot by purchasing a Christmas tree at the Y, as proceeds benefit our scholarship program; to support the Y by contributing time, talent and resources; volunteer at the Y; give back to the Y during our end-of-year appeal campaign in December; join the Y; participate in our 2014 events and more.

For information about volunteering, email volunteers@ryallymca.orgwww.brryallymca.org;/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.brryallymca.orgLastly, share your Y story about how the Y has impacted your life by emailing "> to make a one-time contributionmarketing@ryallymca.org;mailto:marketing@ryallymca.org[/URL].

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