Fund drive supports YMCA programs

PARKERSBURG – The YMCA of Parkersburg provides many programs for children and families.

Financial assistance allows some area residents to participate in YMCA programs such as after-school program, full-day child care and summer camp. Money also is provided to help people pay for their YMCA memberships.

Money to provide this assistance is raised during the YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign, which will include a dinner and award presentation at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Parkersburg Country Club. Tickets are $125 and are available by calling YMCA executive director Chad Smith or Kim Sapp at 304-485-5585.

Robert Stephens, president of the Bernard McDonough Foundation, is the 2013 recipient of the Edwin L.D. Dils Heart of Our Community Award by the YMCA and will be honored at Thursday’s event.

The YMCA of Parkersburg has raised $114,000 toward meeting its $116,800 goal in this year’s fund drive, Smith said. The organization will continue to try to raise money throughout the year as additional requests for financial assistance are received from area families, he said.

The Parkersburg YMCA provided $107,000 in scholarship money for programs last year.

The Y’s summer camp, from June 12 through the beginning of August, will provide activities for 150-175 children, Smith said.

About 75 children receive full-day child care each day and 400-500 children are enrolled in the after-school program at the YMCA.

The Sharks swim team is another strong program provided by the YMCA for area youth, Smith said. Swim lessons and other youth sports are offered.

The number and popularity of YMCA programs have skyrocketed in recent years, said Smith, who was named executive director in December 2006.

Shellie Leeson is organizing family events, a new program at the YMCA. She can be contacted on Tuesdays at the Y.

The YMCA serves as an advocate for children and provides exercise options for adults, said Dr. Ort Armstrong, president of the YMCA of Parkersburg’s Board of Directors.

Armstrong said the decision three years ago to return to honoring a community leader has helped the Strong Kids Campaign.

The organization is trying to get young, single adults back into the YMCA, Armstrong said.

YMCA membership has dropped over the years as fitness centers have opened in the area, YMCA officials said.

The YMCA of Parkersburg has 4,200 members and 1,800 membership units, which can include several family members in a unit.

The Y has facilities on Broad Street and Market Street in Parkersburg.