A $500,000 grant announced Thursday for the Williamsport YMCA from the First Community Foundation of Pennsylvania - with an opportunity for another $250,000 - gives the organization a major boost in its fundraising campaign for new city facility.
The foundation made the gift as the YMCA board was holding a meeting at its offices at 320 Elmira St. A foundation representative interrupted lunch to say a city Bureau of Transportation historic trolley was waiting to take them to see a "special delivery" at the site of the future Y at the 700 block of High Street across from the Williamsport Regional Medical Center's new entrance.
Most board members and YMCA staff seemed to be surprised by the announcement and were not aware of the foundation's plans. The organization did apply to the foundation earlier in the year for a grant to support its capital campaign, however.
Members of the River Valley Regional YMCA board and members of the First Community Foundation Partnership release balloons after a surprise announcement at the site of the new YMCA Thursday.
YMCA board members take a trolley ride to the site for the new facility on Thursday for a surprise announcement by the First Community Foundation Partnership.
Betty Gilmour, director of grant making for the First Community Foundation Partnership, left, and Erin Ruhl, director of community relations, cut a cake made to look like a check during a surprise announcement at the new site for the YMCA Thursday.
The donation comes about six weeks after the YMCA received its biggest-ever donation - $1 million from Loyalsock Township residents Ronald and Rosalie Cimini.
"We are elated that we're getting the support from the community foundation," said Dave Fagerstrom, president and CEO of the River Valley Regional YMCA,
adding the half-million-dollar grant will go a long way toward the organization's goal of nearly $10 million.
"We're still heavy into solicitation," he said. "We need everybody's support to get this done."
If the YMCA reaches $9.5 million in its campaign by April 1, 2013, the foundation will donate another $250,000, according to Jennifer D. Wilson, president and CEO of the foundation. The $500,000 will be given once construction begins, Wilson said.
The donation comes from the foundation's Impact Fund, designed to make major contributions and steer projects on a positive financial course.
Five hundred orange and red balloons were sent toward the sky after Davie Jane Gilmour, board president of the First Community Foundation, announced the grant.
Wilson said the gift was an important one because of the community and wellness benefits that are provided by the YMCA. She also cited the partnership between the YMCA and Susquehanna Health to construct the new facility on hospital grounds.
"It's compelling to us to see two organizations partnering for the benefit of the community," she said. "It will strengthen the community for years to come."
Fagerstrom said in early September that construction for the new facility was pushed back from this fall to next spring. It is expected to take 12 to 14 months to complete the building.
Plans were announced March 7 for a new 70,000 square-foot facility south of the hospital campus to replace an aging and inefficient structure, YMCA officials said.