YMCA Hosts Annual Support Campaign


Maiya Ezawa

    The Mililani YMCA holds their Annual Support Campaign (ASC) from late-Jan. to mid-March to raise funds for those who cannot afford the full price of their programs. The nation-wide fundraiser consists of a number of volunteers who call households around the area and ask for donations, aiming for an overall goal of $405,000. Last year, they raised over $871,250. The YMCA offers a wide variety of programs to the community, including swimming lessons, daycare and fitness classes.

    “The YMCA creates this environment where kids can be anybody. Their multiple programs and classes give children a chance to learn things and participate in things that not every child has the opportunity to do. The YMCA opens doors for the future, creates outlets of expression and widens the lengths kids can achieve,” said annual top teen campaigner Senior Raena Guzman.

    This year the Mililani YMCA had similar goals to last, with their efforts focused on contacting regulars and finding new sources of money. “Last year the Mililani YMCA raised about $60,000 and that is our goal again this year. The YMCA of Honolulu—all nine branches, plus our Metropolitan office—raised just over one million dollars. Each individual branch goal is set by calculating how much money is given out in the form of financial assistance or scholarships the year prior,” said the director of teen programs and community engagement Bryan Murphy.

    The many volunteers that help to run the ASC dedicate their time and effort to help others experience what the YMCA has to offer. “I actually do not participate in any of the YMCA’s programs anymore but whenever the ASC comes around someone always contacts me to be a teen volunteer. I started because my swim coach asked me to do some call nights, and after that I guess I never stopped,” said Guzman. Sophomore Krysta Reese added, “I’m involved in the YMCA’s teen program, which includes teens who are interested in community service and previous participants of their Leaders in Training program. This year our teen goal is to raise $10,000.”

    The teenage volunteers, as well as the adults, often stay until nighttime to call and get funds from friends, family and local businesses. These donations are tax deductible. “Each year we do some sort of goofy bet or challenge with the teen team; strangely they’ve all been related to my appearance so far, but like the saying goes, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ If they succeed this year, they get to shave my head and dye my beard. The fact that they are closing in on this goal—close to $7,000—ahead of schedule, makes me both exceedingly proud of their work and a little terrified for my soon to be ‘new look,’” said Murphy.

    In addition to the ASC, the Mililani YMCA holds various other fundraisers to assist those who would like to join programs but may not be able to afford it. “There are fundraisers at the YMCA like Splash Dash for the younger kids, bake sales, teen dances, teen sports night, zumbathons, special yoga offers, call nights and carwashes. Each YMCA on island has an overall goal which they want to reach and all the monies raised go straight towards financial aid,” said Reese.

    The programs and activities put on by the YMCA have a lasting impact on those that participate, allowing them to reach out to the community. “I started as a swim student when I was only four years old, joined their swim team when I was nine. I’ve been in and out of their child care programs, fitness classes and at one point I even did ‘spirit dancing’ there. Basically I’ve done it all, and growing up in the YMCA the people know your face, they know your parents, they become like another family,” said Guzman. Murphy added, “I truly believe places like the YMCA are becoming more and more important in our communities. At our core, we are a place where people can simply come together for positive reasons.”  

    The annual YMCA ASC is their biggest fundraiser throughout the year, and helps to subsidize the costs of membership for those in need through scholarship-like opportunities. They plan to continue this annual drive.