Filling community needs is theme as Y kicks off $1.1millon drive


The words were about community and the appeal was for money Tuesday morning.

“Achieving our goal enables us to have the greatest impact,” Christopher Hurd told an audience of more than 400 at the Crowne Plaza.

Hurd, who is chairman of the YMCA of Greater Providence annual $1.1 million appeal, made the point at the conclusion of the Y’s annual breakfast, which included emotional stories about the impact of the Y on peoples’ lives from Jackie Gendron of the West Bay Y and Rachael Craven, a graduate of the LiveStrong program at the South County Y.

Craven talked of her battle against cancer, her love to run and the “shame and fear” that comes with being diagnosed with cancer. The Y’s LiveStrong program placed her with others with cancer and that gave her fresh hope.

“Life is worth fighting for,” she said.

Mayor Scott Avedisian, who was the keynote speaker, talked about how the community comes together to address issues on a broader scale. He spoke of the “Warwick 13,” a coalition of nonprofits that work together to streamline service and address community needs. The Kent County Y is a member of the group.

“The Y’s services are particularly important because they focus on the well-being of the whole person: from cancer programs to fitness and wellness programs, seminars and providing a supportive, non-judgmental environment, the Y helps people to become healthier in many aspects of their lives, not solely from a physical perspective,” he said.

Avedisian also mentioned the Y’s recent partnership with the Providence Center for those seeking to recover from substance abuse.

Hurd called the program “groundbreaking” and the first of its kind in this country.

Avedisian described it as a partnership where people in recovery become Y members to get “peer-to-peer support and other services designed to promote healthy lifestyles.”

James Berson, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Providence, said the Y is being called upon to address the critical needs of chronic illness for adults and children, “driven by lifestyle choices and the environment, and the achievement gap of our children.” He called upon those leaders, concerned Rhode Islanders and concerned human beings, “to step up, do more and once again work together to solve the problems of our time.”

“Our communities need the Y and the Y needs you,” he said.

The program concluded with Greater Y board member Joseph White calling on everyone to raise their right arm and then remove their nametags. He then asked people to remove the names from their plastic holders, which revealed to them that the nametag was also a pledge form ... pledge forms with the guest’s name conveniently attached.

No one needed any instructions from there. The Crowne ballroom was silent as people made pledges to the drive and placed them in boxes at each table.


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