It was freezing outside, but inside the Greenpoint YMCA Wednesday night, the Y kids and their supporters were bringing the heat.
More than 125 people filled the 107 year old gym to watch the kids sing, dance, step and Zumba as the Y kicked off its Annual Campaign – a 12-week fundraising initiative to reach its goal of $165,000. Nearly $40,000 has already been raised through donations from Y staff and board members. The money will be used to provide financial assistance to North Brooklyn children and families.
Decorated with a Valentine’s Day theme, appropriately, it was the heart of the Y, its kids, who took center stage at the Annual Campaign kickoff. Its School Age Child Care (SACC) program kids wowed the audience with an enthusiastic rendition of “Almost There” by Anika Noni Rose. The song about reaching your goals comes from the “Princess and the Frog.” Later, the Y scholar teens urged the audience to Step Up and support the Y through an inspired STEP performance.
But it was Suyana Crespo, a 7-year old from Y afterschool, who stole the show. Crespo captured the attention of the Y board when she broke her piggy bank and donated all her savings, $58, to the Annual Campaign. Attending with her mother and brother, the charismatic Crespo confidently spoke about why she likes the Y, especially her teachers. She was presented with a crystal award by longtime board chair, Paul Pullo, who predicted that someday she might be board chair.
“This is a great motivator to make sure that every child has access to services such as these,” said Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Reyna representing her boss Eric Adams. “As our Borough President says ‘hurt people hurt people.’ It’s important to understand that when we don’t give our children, all of our children, an opportunity to succeed, to be exposed to positive elements within their own neighborhoods, it exposes them to a different path. When we are talking about supporting the Y, we’re talking about supporting the family unit.”
The Greenpoint Y served over 10,000 people last year, including 3,500 kids who participated in afterschool, summer camp, teens in Y Scholars and teen center, as well as family programs such as a monthly Dive In movie series, Parents Night Out and Youth & Family Swim.
“Our 2014 Annual Campaign will ensure that no family, child or adult is turned away,” Pullo said. The Chairman also reiterated his commitment to building a new, larger facility for the Y to expand its programs and services, a goal which YMCA of Greater New York CEO Jack Lund promised to support.
This year’s fundraising theme is The Y. So Much More. “We are more than just afterschool programs, more than just a gym, more than just swim classes – we are that and so much more,” added Greenpoint Y Executive Director Keith Hicks. “We are a community enriched by all of you.”
“The Y is the bedrock of the community it is in,” said Councilmember Steve Levin, a Greenpoint Y member. “It’s a resource that everyone in the community can use. So if you think about how we’re growing our city in the years to come, I want to emphasize how important it is that there’s a great Y in every neighborhood.”
“Your kids are our kids and we’ve got to help each other,” Assemblyman Joe Lentol, an honorary member of the Y board, told the parents. “That’s what life is all about.”
For more information about the Y’s Annual Campaign, to volunteer, donate or be a part of a great cause, please go to ymcanyc.org/greenpoint.