What does 50 years of service to the community look like? At the Y, it has meant generations of families finding their way through health and wellness opportunities. Countless friendships fostered. Individuals finding strength in numbers. Children learning and growing. Affordable childcare, nourishing meals and friendly check-ins. Whatever the need, the Ocean County YMCA has been there through it all. And now the Toms River nonprofit needs your help.
Next month, the Ocean County YMCA will celebrate its 50th anniversary of service to the community. Although the nonprofit will not celebrate the milestone as planned, it has developed a Recovery Fund to ensure that it will come back stronger and better in 2021. To that end, the Ocean County YMCA’s Board of Directors is committed to raising $250,000. With their personal donations and funds raised, we are nearing $100,000 towards this goal. To aid in these efforts, the Grunin Foundation has started a $50,000 in Celebration of 50 Years of Service Matching Challenge Grant. The foundation will match every new donation to the Ocean County YMCA dollar for dollar through the end of the year up to $50,000.
“The Ocean County YMCA is a hub for health in our community,” said Jeremy Grunin, President of the Grunin Foundation. “From empowering youth to providing a place for seniors to stay active, the Y works to improve mental, physical and social health for all. During the pandemic, they haven’t missed a beat, ensuring programs stayed running safely whether virtually or in-person. As the YMCA celebrates its 50th anniversary, the Grunin Foundation is proud to support the Ocean County YMCA while they continue to elevate our community and economy by keeping residents active and healthy.”
With the upcoming 50th Anniversary of the Y, Ocean County YMCA Board Member, Brian Tramontano, shared what he has valued most throughout the years enjoying all that the YMCA has to offer. Brian states, “My favorite time here at the Y is watching my daughter and son take swim lessons in the same pool where as a child I learned to swim. Passing this valuable life lesson from generation to generation is an amazing experience.”
This holds true for so many Y families in Ocean County. “This is why we are sending this appeal to you,” explained Michael P. Ritacco, Board Chair of the Ocean County YMCA.
When the Ocean County YMCA was forced to close its doors in March due to COVID-19, the nonprofit did whatever was necessary to help meet the needs of its neighbors. “Despite the devastating impact that this pandemic had on our programs, members and staff, the Ocean County YMCA has continued to step up to serve our community’s most compelling needs,” shared Peter T. Rosario, President & CEO of the Ocean County YMCA.
Throughout the shutdown, the Ocean County YMCA continued to honor its promise that social distancing would not become social isolation. “We served thousands of meals, created virtual content for people of all ages, including a weekly Zoom meeting that provided a personal connection. Telephone outreach initiatives were put into action to protect our most vulnerable members, we implemented online learning opportunities, and remained connected with our followers on social media,” added Rosario.
Over the summer, programming began to shift from online to outdoors, serving 131 summer campers and 62 swim team members (which has now grown to 194 during the fall). The Ocean County YMCA also provided a total of 80,505 meals to those in need throughout Toms River. Most recently, the Ocean County YMCA opened its facilities during school hours to provide children with supervised space to attend virtual classes as parents returned to work.
“At this most critical time, we need all past and present members of our Y family to come together and support the Ocean County YMCA,” said Ritacco. “With your help, our YMCA will provide the next generation with a welcoming, safe place where the front door is open to all.”