The big splash: $200,000 more need to make Y's pool a reality

| 01 Nov 2017 | 11:43

— Plans for a pool at the South Orange Family YMCA in Monroe are inching closer to a reality now that the Y has raised $400,000 toward its $600,000 fund-raising goal for its $2.2 million expansion project.
But, despite the great success at raising two-thirds of what the Y needs to make that happen, officials know raising that last $200,000 is challenging.
"Summer started off very strong but the gifts have slowed down with families traveling over the summer and then getting kids back to school," said Y Branch Executive Director Ross Miceli. "It's totally understandable, but it's time for us to get back on track. We know there are a lot of people who love what the Y offers their families and who have expressed their support of the pool. We need them to show their commitment to this community project with a contribution to the fund-raising campaign."
Two bodies of waterThe pool will actually be a 25-yard, four lane lap pool with another body of water adjacent to be used for swim lessons, water exercise classes and family swim times.
"Having two bodies of water will allow the Y to run programming simultaneously at the same time, catering everyone’s needs," said Miceli.
The Y opened in 2011 and has grown its membership every year, Miceli said. In tandem with a growing membership is a growth in programs for adults and children, exercise and health-related classes and sports offerings.
Currently, the Y has 8,500 member units, said Miceli, which equates to roughly 1,700 families and another 400 adults.
"We are bursting at the seams," he said. "We take pride in what we offer this community and we are committed to expanding that."
Three years ago, the Y surveyed membership and the surrounding Monroe community The overwhelming response was that the Y needed more space for additional family programming, sports leagues, classes and a pool, Miceli said.
Vested interest in the communityThat information proved invaluable as Y officials looked to see how they could take those survey results and use them in their long-term planning efforts, he added.
"On May 25 the YMCA took a leap of faith based on our members' feedback and bought the SOFY building," said Miceli. "This proved and showed the community we are here to stay and showed our vested interest in this community. When YMCAs build or expand, that means they are committed to sticking around for a very long time, if not for forever. The South Orange Family YMCA plans to be here forever."
Miceli is continuing to reach out to reach out to area businesses seeking support, showing them the various naming opportunities that will give those businesses additional exposure while supporting the project.
Donations for the project can be financed over five years to make it easier for both businesses and individuals to support the Y's plans.
"We need the support of businesses, we need support of the community and we need the support of our members," said Miceli. "We believe this is completely doable. We just need people and businesses to remind themselves of how important an organization like this Y is to the greater Monroe community. We fill that critical gap that schools and communities can't due to staffing or finances. And, this community needs a pool. We are the one organization that can make this a reality, and we can do that by reaching our fund-raising goal."
'Puzzle' parties Additionally, Miceli said many residents have already held "puzzle" parties at their homes, where Y staff explain how their support of the campaign helps "to add one piece to complete the puzzle of making a pool and expanded services a reality."
For example, he said, Monroe residents Kim and Bruce Carpenter held the first of many community puzzle parties which raised $5,000 for the project.
"Puzzle parties are great way to bring awareness to the campaign and in addition raise funds toward the overall goal," said Miceli. "Our staff will go to any home or office and would be thrilled to talk to everyone about the great plans the Y has. We understand the dynamic of this community and recognize all the controversy going on. However, the Y is a staple within this community. The Y is in a crucial spot and in order for us to expand, we need to get this last amount of money."
'The Y is every where in the community'Miceli spoke confidently about the Y's reach in the greater Monroe area.
"I can tell you without hesitation that the South Orange family YMCA directly or indirectly positively impacts the lives of everyone in southern Orange County," he said. "It can be anything. Maybe your child is part of an after school program in one of the schools. Maybe your child has gone to our Camp Discovery. Maybe our staff has shared health and wellness and exercise information at one of your community or business meetings. Maybe your group has attended a community program at the Y - where we give that space to an organization for free. Maybe you've run in one of our 5K events or been one of 600 people at our recent community Halloween party."
That's why Miceli is so passionate.
"The Y is everywhere in this community, just as it should be," Miceli said. "With the exception of a few holidays, we are open every day from dawn until darkness, reaching out to make this community a better place. Please remember that. Help us to further expand on the good work we do by supporting this campaign."
- Nancy Kriz