BERNARDS TWP., NJ – On Wednesday, April 11, 2018 community members gathered at Bridgewater Marriott to celebrate the success of Somerset County YMCA’s 2018 Annual Campaign. At the event, Somerset County YMCA revealed that it surpassed its fundraising goal of $1 million, with pledges and gifts of $1,003,526. Exceeding this lofty goal marks record-breaking community support of the Y’s mission to build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.

As a charitable organization, the Y’s cause is strengthening community so that everyone has opportunities to live happy, healthy and connected lives. Funds raised directly contribute to the Y’s financial assistance program, which supports the organization’s charitable promise to serve all, regardless of ability to pay.

For the second year, the Y embraced the campaign theme, ‘Break Through to a Brighter Future,’ which aligns with the Y’s cause, as do staff who committed $102,699 at the start of the campaign. Together with the support of donors and volunteers, the Y provides local individuals and families who struggle financially, physically and emotionally with the strength, support and resources to break through obstacles to a brighter future.

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“It is through the generosity of our members, donors, volunteers and staff that the Y is able to empower individuals and families in our community to thrive and to live happy and fulfilled lives,” said Somerset County YMCA President and CEO, David M. Carcieri. “In fact, 100% of the funds raised in our Annual Campaign are used to provide direct financial assistance to individuals who otherwise could not afford childcare, summer camp, membership and programs. These funds allow the Y to offer critical programs that enhance the quality of life and make a meaningful difference to our kids, our health and our neighbors—all to make our community stronger.”

Somerset County YMCA Board of Directors Member and Volunteer Chair of the Annual Campaign, Ana Duarte-McCarthy of Basking Ridge, led the jubilant celebration, saying, “I am extremely proud that with no less than four winter snow storms, 162 campaigners worked on behalf of Somerset County YMCA to bring brighter futures to even more individuals than ever before. The campaign’s success is a testament to the community’s unwavering dedication to the Y’s cause.”

In attendance to support the Y’s cause were Deputy Mayor Shanel Robinson of Franklin Township; Mayor Vic Sordillo and Councilwoman Carolann Garafola of Warren Township; Mayor Kevin Sooy of Bernardsville; Sara Sooy, Member Somerset Hills School District Board of Education; and Bill Grippo, Principal of MacAfee Road School in Somerset.

The highlight of the evening was stories from community members whose lives have been transformed through their participation in YMCA programs and services.

Eric Eickhorst of Bound Brook conquered what cancer stole from him with the help of the Y’s cancer recovery program. “After treatment, I was at my lowest point, and the LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA trainers helped me regain my strength, my spirit and my courage,” said Eickhorst.

Jeannette Venezia of Hillsborough is grateful to go to work with the peace of mind that her children are being cared for and thriving in before and after school care and camp. “The financial assistance my family received from the Y means so much to me as a single parent. The Y has helped my children grow through new experiences I could not otherwise afford, and by building and strengthening their confidence, self-esteem and independence.”

Benita and Paul Kiell of Far Hills spoke of their love for the Y and dedication to helping others, particularly through swimming. “For many years, Paul and I have coordinated Swim Inc. for adults with impaired mobility. Programs like this are made possible by the Y staff and generous donors,” said Benita Kiell. “We’re very proud to be part of this wonderful organization which does so much for our community.”

Kristen Clark of Basking Ridge flourishes at the Y, as do many children and adults with special needs. “I’ve worked at the Y for 20 years. I’ve also been able to learn and apply soft skills and to socialize with friends through the Y’s special needs adult programs and Special Olympics. The Y is my second home, my family and my support.”

In 2017, Somerset County YMCA’s branches provided over $1,330,000 in financial asistance to neighbors who, otherwise, could not afford childcare, summer camp, membership and programs. Aside from direct financial assistance, over $610,000 was provided in support of programs and services that address the critical social needs of our community. Every year the need for financial assistance is greater than the amount raised through the Y’s Annual Campaign. Somerset County YMCA recognizes there is more to be done to help those in the community who need it most, despite having reached its initial goal for the Annual Campaign.

“Today, more than ever, individual and families need a welcoming place to be, belong and become. They need the Y,” said Carcieri. “It is the generous support of our volunteers, donors and staff that enables the Y to care for and support the most vulnerable among us. Together we can build a brighter future for all.”

For more information about the Y’s Annual Campaign or to make a gift, contact Kelly Castro, Vice President of Philanthropy, at kcastro@somersecountyymca.org or 908-630-3535 x100 or visit www.somersetcountyymca.org/give.

 About Somerset County YMCA

 The Y is the nation’s leading nonprofit committed to strengthening the community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. At Somerset County YMCA, we believe everyone, regardless of age, income or background, should have the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. For information about Somerset County YMCA and financial assistance, visit us at www.somersetcountyymca.org.