Matawan, NJ (March 29, 2018) – Local residents and businesses were encouraged to join forces with The Community YMCA to strengthen vulnerable neighbors at the YMCA Annual Community Campaign launch on March 28 at the YMCA Children’s Achievement Center in Matawan.

The Y’s “Be A Hero For A Better Us” fundraising campaign will raise support to ensure that children, families and individuals in need can access affordable childcare, summer camp, therapeutic counseling, cancer recovery and other essential programs and services offered at the Y, said Laurie Goganzer, President and CEO of The Community YMCA (the Y), which serves 20,000 people across Monmouth County and areas of Ocean County.

“This eight-week campaign makes it possible for the Y to deliver our mission to ensure that everyone – regardless of age, income or background – can access the Y,” Goganzer said. “We can only help children, teens, seniors and adults in need achieve their full potential with the generous financial support we receive from our community,” she added.

Annual Campaign Chairman Ted Nappi, a member of the Y Board of Directors, noted that last year 1,747 families in the greater Monmouth County community received financial assistance to learn, grow and thrive at the Y. “The purpose of this campaign is to bring our community together to donate to the Y to build a better us,” he said, “to provide access to programs that teach, protect, connect, heal, nourish and encourage all in our community who need us.”

Mandy Hanigan, a Red Bank parent, said the Y’s support has helped to strengthen her 7-year-old daughter, Mari, who experienced respiratory distress at birth that left her with mild cerebral palsy. Until recently, Mari, a student at Red Bank Charter School, could only walk with assistance. However, swim therapy and other activities at the Y have helped make it possible for Mari to walk on her own, Hanigan said.

“The water is truly liberating for her,” Hanigan said at the campaign launch. “We are thankful for everyone at the Y, and she’s going to keep on swimming.”

Nappi said the Y aims to raise $125,000 through the community appeal to support the overall Annual Campaign goal of $405,000. In addition to individual and family support, Annual Campaign proceeds help underwrite community health and education initiatives such as water safety, childhood obesity prevention,  learning loss prevention and school-based therapeutic counseling.

Christian Buckman, a Y board member and chairperson of the Annual Campaign community appeal, stressed that while the Y is best known for its swim program and fitness facilities, it has a strong focus on social services that has made an impact on the health and well-being of the community. The Y operates the Bayshore Family Success Center in the Leonardo section of Middletown, she said, which helps connect stressed families to social services at no cost and offers a welcoming place for families to enjoy time together.

Teddy Van Duysen of Leonardo shared in a video presented at the launch that the Y’s Bayshore center helped him transition into a new role as a single father to his 7-year-old daughter with access to supportive services and a caring environment.

A highlight of the evening was a presentation of a $12,000 donation from the Y’s swim team, the Aquarockets. Every year, the team hosts a swim meet to benefit the Annual Campaign, and over the past 21 years has raised more than $180,000, Buckman said. “They are champions in and out of the water,” she added.

Goganzer closed the program with an appeal to the community to support the campaign. “Help us continue to be source of strength and a safe place for everyone in our community. Together, we can build a stronger us.”

To volunteer or for more information about the Y’s Annual Campaign, contact Stacy Vasta, Associate Director of Development, at giving@cymca.org or 732.671.5505, ext. 120.

To make a donation to the Y’s Annual Campaign, visit www.TheCommunityYMCA.org/donate.

Matawan Mayor (R) Joseph Altomonte celebrates the launch of The Community YMCA’s Annual Campaign with (L to R): President and CEO Laurie Goganzer; Chairperson, Board member and Annual Campaign Chairman Ted Nappi; and, Board member and Chairperson of the community appeal Christian Buckman. Nelyda Perez, Assistant Superintendent of Special Services and Programs for the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District, thanks Colleen Verriest, the Y’s Vice President of Counseling & Social Services and Child Achievement, for partnering to help children thrive in before and after school programs.

About The Community YMCA

The Y is a leading nonprofit charity that strengthens communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The Community YMCA serves more than 20,000 residents in greater Monmouth County, NJ through programs such as: preschool, before and after school care, summer day camp, teen leadership, arts enrichment, health and wellness and personal and family counseling. In 2017, the Y provided $871,250 in financial assistance and program subsidies to strengthen 1,746 children and families in Monmouth County. For more information, visit TheCommunityYMCA.org.