EAST HANOVER, NJ — The West Essex YMCA’s supporters, members and staff will assemble at the Hanover Manor in East Hanover on Monday evening to kick off “Calling All Superheroes,” this year’s campaign to raise $160,000 to address pressing community concerns and open access to services for those who cannot afford it.

According to West Essex YMCA Executive Director Helen Flores, who plans to channel Wonder Woman at the kickoff, "you don’t need to wear a cape to be a superhero."

"It requires only a desire to help those in need and the fortitude to follow through, assured that good can always triumph even when times seem dark,” she said. “Every donation has power that is magnified by the community joining forces to invest in YMCA programs that are making an impact and improving lives every day."

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The money raised during the six-week campaign will support local children, families and adults in need, she said. The West Essex YMCA and the other six branches of the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges set a collective goal of $1.1 million.

“The Metro YMCA and its branches are committed to promoting healthy living, youth development and social responsibility, and that requires us to address problems like chronic disease, educational disparities, and poverty that weaken our communities,” said Metro YMCA Chief Development Officer Lisa Kelly.

In addition to providing programs for children, adults and seniors to stay active and socialize, the Metro YMCA and its branches have developed evidence-based programs. According to Kelly, these programs were designed to tackle obesity, support cancer survivors, prevent child sexual abuse, close the achievement gap, ensure quality, affordable child care, make fresh vegetables and fruit available in food deserts, and more.

The Metro YMCA is recognized for its stewardship of charitable donations. Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest charity evaluator, has awarded the Metro Y its top rating for six years in a row in recognition of the organization’s sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency.

Only 5 percent of charities rated by Charity Navigator have received four-star evaluations six consecutive years or more.

To contribute to the annual appeal, contact Kelly at lkelly@metroymcas.org or 973-758-9622, visit www.metroymcas.org/donate, or stop by the West Essex YMCA at 321 S Livingston Ave. in Livingston.