October 22nd, 2020

Van Raay donates $100K to YMCA Strong Kids Fund


By Bobinec, Greg on December 5, 2019.

Cor Van Raay presents a $100,000 cheque to Pamela Haapa-Aho, YMCA director of volunteer and funds development, to support the YMCAs Strong Kids Fund. Submitted photo

Greg Bobinec

Lethbridge Herald

gbobinec@lethbridgeherald.com

As part of Giving Tuesday, Cor Van Raay donated $100,000 to the Lethbridge YMCA to help support southern Alberta families with subsidized programming through the Strong Kids Fund.

With a rapid increase of users of the new Cor Van Raay YMCA on the westside, staff have noticed an increase in families and individuals requesting subsidy programming, leaving a rapidly decreasing Strong Kid Fund. A long-time YMCA member, Van Raay heard about the families who might not be able to access the YMCA because they can’t afford it, and wanted to donate for them to have healthy, long-lasting lives.

“Tuesday was Giving Tuesday, and Cor had heard through some discussions through members and staff that our demand for applying subsidy and aid to our members was increasing,” says Ross Jacobs, director of marketing and communications, YMCA Lethbridge. “It increased by 750 per cent. The Strong Kids Fund is a fund that we are consistently collecting for at the Y; it is our primary method of subsidizing youth for our assisted members. Cor heard there might be a chance that we might not have enough money, and he decided to donate $100,000 which is amazing.”

Since opening in May, the Cor Van Raay YMCA has seen great public support of their new facilities and programming. The YMCA provides support to over 900 families in Lethbridge and surrounding area. Jacobs says although they are happy to see their numbers exceed their expectations, the demand for subsidy needs to be met.

“The scale in which we have received both new members, drop-ins and request for subsidy is far exceeding our estimates,” says Jacobs. “In terms of membership numbers, we are at the numbers we thought we would be at next spring and summer, which is a great problem to have. It’s just that when it comes to Strong Kids, that fund provides the subsidy to do the work, so we have no problem with the demand; we just need the funds to subsidize.”

With all donations to the Strong Kids Fund graciously appreciated, the Van Raay donation was welcomed with open arms as many families will be able to partake in programs and activities throughout the year.

“Cor, who is a long-term member, has always been supportive of us. Whenever there has been a need he has been there to help,” says Jacobs. “He feels that his time at the YMCA has helped extend his life and helped him live a healthy life and he wants that for other people in Lethbridge and surrounding communities. To have someone like that, a true philanthropist who just gives to help is awesome, and for us it is very humbling every time he comes and makes donations like this. To have a member who has been with us for over 25 years, to continue to give shows the programming that the YMCA offers.”

Subsidized programming for youths at the YMCA is available through the staff at the membership desk in the front lobby.

Individuals or families are able to ask for assistance and staff will direct you to an assessment to find what type of subsidy they qualify for.

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