Greater Somerset Y annual campaign ‘strengthens community’


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Greater Somerset County YMCA (GSCYMCA) celebrated the support of donors during the Association’s Annual Campaign Celebration.

At the virtual event held on March 30, Annual Campaign Chair Lisa LaVecchia, senior vice president and wealth management advisor at Merrill Lynch, congratulated campaigners for reaching 97% ($1,465,281) of GSCYMCA’s 2022 $1.5 million fundraising goal, and spoke of the great need that exists in the community and what it will take to strengthen it.

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“One of my favorite aspects of the Annual Campaign has been the opportunity to engage and connect with donors and to share the remarkable impact that donations have on transforming the lives of so many neighbors. The challenges of the last three years have increased the need for many. Through it all, GSCYMCA, as a cornerstone of our community and in many ways a first responder, has not stopped providing vital programs and services in all of its 149-year history to those who need it most. That is why we are so grateful for the support of our generous donors and the stewardship of our passionate volunteers,” LaVecchia said in a prepared statement. “Together, as volunteers, donors, and staff we are a powerful force that strengthens community.”

During the event, GSCYMCA commended the efforts of all those involved in the campaign, the compassionate individual donors and businesses, and the caring community members who have seen the rise of suffering, as well as the Y’s response and the positive impact that the Y makes in the community, according to the statement.

While GSCYMCA is close to reaching its 2022 campaign goal, the association endeavors to reach it so the organization can continue to meet the emerging needs in all of its service areas, which now includes Princeton YMCA, increasing the number of people who can receive assistance, according to the statement. Greater Somerset County YMCA consists of Bridgewater YMCA, Hillsborough YMCA, Franklin Township YMCA, Plainfield YMCA, Princeton YMCA, Somerset Hills YMCA, and Somerville YMCA.

GSCYMCA’s Annual Campaign “Inspire. Empower. Uplift.” kicked off on Feb. 2. GSCYMCA’s response to the public health and economic crises has helped untold neighbors throughout the greater Somerset County community pandemic and in the wake of Tropical Storm Ida last year, according to the statement. From spearheading food distribution initiatives, to supporting individuals with special needs, to launching equity and inclusivity projects, to providing safe places for children while parents work, to helping members build a healthy spirit, mind and body, and to alleviating social isolation, GSCYMCA and its volunteers engaged in socially responsible initiatives to help neighbors survive, according to the statement.

Grant Smith, a GSCYMCA member, lives with a brain tumor and counts on the Y for rehabilitation and therapy through swimming and exercise.

“It’s not just a stress reliever. It’s neurologically therapeutic. When the Y reopened in 2020, I was one of the first ones back in the pool thanks to the safety protocols put in place and the Y’s support. Because of the Y, I am doing the best I can do: swam over 600 miles, cycled over 2000 miles, and completed two triathlons. I am not giving up. I live by setting an example, for myself and my children, of doing what I am able to do – always trying,” he said in the statement.

Kiwan and his mother Verné, both GSCYMCA members, are grateful to the Y for helping them to overcome a difficult family situation.

“The Y helped us to feel we were not victims of our circumstances. That we could rise above it. And, the Y’s staff helped me to ensure Kiwan would be on the right path. Without the Y’s financial assistance I would not be able to afford child care, summer camp, or swim lessons. Kiwan’s Y experience has improved his academics, given him a sense of belonging and built his confidence and identity. The Y opened the door to us. The Y believes in us. The Y gave us our shot and, now, the sky is the limit,” Verné said in the statement.

One hundred percent of the Y’s Annual Campaign donations provide direct financial assistance to under-resourced individuals and families, as well as support the Y’s diverse mission-based programs and services, such as rehabilitation programs for cancer patients, enrichment programs for individuals with special needs, child care and summer camp, employment support for the unemployed, and so much more.

In 2021, GSCYMCA provided over $1.8 million in community program support and direct financial assistance to local qualifying individuals and families. GSCYMCA’s impact included, but was not limited to:

  • 50,794 health seekers engaged in virtual, on-demand, outdoor and live fitness classes and swimming.
  • 146,000 pounds of food distributed to hungry households; 58,000-plus served; 365 days of fully stocked food pantry available 24/7.
  • 394 participants in virtual sessions of Career Forum; 52 hours of advice, guidance and support.
  • 169 children age 6 weeks to 5 years in child care and preschool; 1 in 4 children receives financial assistance.
  • 522 students enrolled in School Age Child Care; 1 in 10 students receives financial assistance.
  • 216 children in grades K-8 in Academic Support Centers for virtual learning while parents work.
  • 148 campers engaged in summer tutoring for learning recovery.
  • 1,720 children learned to swim, which helps to prevent accidental drownings and makes the community safer.
  • 72 adults vaccinated at six COVID-19 vaccine clinics with free babysitting.
  • 1,170 lives saved with 390 pints of blood collected at 14 blood drive.

“The past year has been quite challenging, but through it all the Y has demonstrated we are here for good — we have remained steadfast in our commitment to building a stronger community through equitable access. I cannot remember a time when the support of individuals was more vital to achieving this mission. We have made a transformative impact and are now calling on community members to uplift, inspire, and empower every one of our neighbors in the years to come as we recover,” GSCYMCA President and CEO David M. Carcieri said in the statement.

Alexandra Rebay, GSCYMCA’s Board of Directors chair, also stressed the growing need and the Y’s role.

“While the Y’s work in 2021 was certainly inspiring, there’s still a lot more to be done,” Rebay said in the statement. “The Y has always been an organization that has walked or run toward every challenge. Responding to our community’s needs is ingrained in the mission and history of the organization – it’s who we are and it’s what we need to do. We need to continue to step up and act consistent with our long legacy.”

For more information about the Y’s Annual Campaign or to make a gift, contact Chief Philanthropy Officer Kelly Castro at and 908-630-3535, ext. 100, or visit and see the case for support.

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