The annual fundraising campaign helps bolster programming, as well as ensure that kids who perhaps can't afford to pay for that programming can still have access to the services the YMCA provides.
The fundraising goal for the 2014 campaign is $165,000, and according to past chair of the Greenpoint YMCA Board of Managers Roseanne Antonucci, they are already almost a quarter of the way there.
Jack Lund, president and CEO of YMCA of Greater New York, said this year the YMCA estimates it will serve a quarter of a million young people.
“The Y is all about helping young people grow into a successful, contributing adulthood,” Lund said. “We’ve made a real commitment to help close the academic achievement gap of kids that grow up in poverty, address the epidemic of youth obesity [and] we want to make sure we put college and opportunity for college education in reach of kids that might not even have thought about that before.”
Highlights of the evening included dance performances by the SACC kids and the Y Scholar Teens of Williamsburg Prep, and a zumba session led by Renee Manzolillo and Lyndsey Crofoot of Breakin Boundaries.
Councilman Steve Levin also spoke in support of the adult programming, which he participates in, but emphasized the important place the Y holds for many erstwhile New York youths.
“Here in the gym, I do my Tuesday night Pilates class because I am a member of the Greenpoint Y,” Levin said. “But most importantly, our kids are being served by this Y. And that means that they are going to do better at school, they’re going to be better adjusted, they’re going to be more fit, they’re going to be smarter, they’re going be more competitive for the challenges that they’re going to be facing in the years to come.”
Greenpoint mother Izabela Lutynski said she found the after-school program to be invaluable for her daughter, whom she was raising singlehandedly while simultaneously providing emotional support to her sister, who has been diagnosed with leukemia.
“During that time, the after-school counselors were helping my daughter with her homework, which is good because my English is not good enough to help her,” Lutynski said. “The program is also offering a lot of fun for kids. Ice skating, which my daughter loved. Right now the program is also offering swimming, which is great for kids. Especially when they do not have enough sport activities at school.”
Paul Pullo, chair of the Greenpoint YMCA Board of Managers, presented an award to local youth Sienna Crespo for her inspirational donation to her YMCA.
“There’s a young lady who emptied her piggy bank,” Pullo said. “She volunteered and she donated $58. I think that’s such a wonderful story.”
Assemblyman Joe Lentol and Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna also spoke at the event, both emphasizing the importance of providing social support for the many youths in the city that do not have anywhere else to turn, and who are disconnected from the resources they need to succeed.
“It’s important to understand when we don’t give our children, all of our children, an opportunity to succeed, to be exposed to positive elements and infrastructure within their own neighborhood, that exposes them to a different path,” Reyna said.