The community-based drive "Save the Waukegan YMCA" led by Waukegan Township Supervisor Patricia Jones received a major boost Nov. 30 as retired Circuit Judge Dave Hall announced plans to walk 100 miles in the days ahead to help keep the 100-year old institution operating beyond Dec. 31 during a community forum at Park Place Senior Center.
Saying "Waukegan needs a Y now more than we ever have," Judge Hall officially launches his fund-raising effort at a noon ceremony on Dec. 1 at Northern Lake YMCA, 2000 Western Ave. He's set a personal goal to raise at least $250-thousand dollars to help the Waukegan YMCA continue to operate including retiring its bank debt. Hall will be seeking pledges of all sizes from individuals and businesses in the community. He'll accumulate miles by walking through neighborhoods as well as the indoor track at Northern Lake. "We'll raise the money. We can make it work," he said. Monies pledged will be collected only if the overall goal of keeping the Waukegan YMCA operating and retiring its debt is successful.
Hall, who's been dealing the past two years with the onset of (ALS), the progressive neurodegenerative disease often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," recently retired from the bench and from his more 30 years of service on the YMCA Board of Directors. While he wears a neck brace, he says he remains completely mobile for now and is fully prepared to walk 100 miles to help the Y.
The distance Hall has chosen represents one mile for each year his family has been associated with the Waukegan Y. His grandfather, Albert Hall, was a leader in the community drive to establish the YMCA building that opened in 1925 and still stands in downtown Waukegan. His great-grandfather, John Hall, helped obtain a YMCA charter for Waukegan and its first building in 1912. That building was located where the Genesee Theatre now stands.
Forms to pledge support for Judge Hall's walk are available at Northern Lake YMCA and online at www.ymcalakecounty.org.
Future "Save the Waukegan Y" community forums are scheduled for Dec. 7, Dec. 14 and Dec. 28 at 10 a.m. at Park Place.
The forums began shortly after the Sept. 28 announcement that Lake County Family YMCA branches in Waukegan and Vernon Hills would close Oct. 31 due to insufficient financial resources to sustain operations on an on-going basis. They continued with a new sense of purpose following the Oct. 31 announcement that the Waukegan Y would remain open through the end of this year to afford the community the opportunity to work together with the YMCA staff to develop a plan to establish long-term sustainability for the Northern Lake YMCA and the continuation of Y services in Waukegan.
Plans to keep Waukegan branch open for two more months followed an announcement that Lake County Family YMCA, the Village of Vernon Hills and the Park District of Vernon Hills had reached an agreement for the Park District to acquire and operate the Central Lake YMCA in Vernon Hills. At the start of next year, the Park District would assume operation of the facility. Because of the complex nature of the Lake County Family YMCA's financial situation, the agreement is subject to final legal and financial reviews. In the meantime, YMCA programs and services are being provided the Central Lake branch.
The Lake County Family YMCA is a cause-driven nonprofit that strengthens the community through programs and services that foster youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Chartered in 1912 as a 501 (C) 3 nonprofit, our association is comprised of the Central Lake YMCA in Vernon Hills and Northern Lake YMCA in Waukegan. To learn more, visit www.ymcalakecounty.org