2015-02-12 / News

SUPERGala: 100 Years of Charity Matters

By Carrie RaCosta
810-452-2645 • cracosta@mihomepaper.com

GENESEE COUNTY — On Feb. 28 the YMCA of Greater Flint will be kicking off its first major fundraising event of the year with their Annual Gala at Camp Copneconic, to benefit the Partner with Youth Campaign.

YMCA staff is hoping those interested arrive donning their best superhero costumes, with their hearts worn on their sleeves.

“This is not your usual black-tie, stuffy, and boring charity event. We have a casual dress code, and we hope as many people as possible dress up in costume. The gala started about five or six years ago to provide a fun way for our donators and the community to celebrate the victories of the camp, and the families who profited in ways financial and emotional from the services we make possible for all,” said Pam Bailey, YMCA of Greater Flint Public Relations and Fundraising Director.

“No one has ever been turned away from the Y because of the lack of ability to pay for something. The community needs to know how vital their support is, and how much it extends way beyond where they think it might. The YMCA encourages those who are members to realize the impact of their support. The funds some may use for fitness extend way beyond personal benefit. The money helps to support those who are relatives, neighbors, and friends-especially those with lack of financial means to enjoy camps, leisure, and recreation in the county,” said Bailey.

In 2014 the YMCA handed out over $500,000 in assistance to families, in and beyond the county.

The YMCA also helped more than 8,000 individuals with support last year, and enabled 35,000 interested campers a chance to experience one, or more of their memorable over-night excursions held throughout the year.

Camps are of a wide variety. Some are tailored for certain disabilities or medical needs, but all events open to the public are geared in a manner so as to accommodate each and every participant’s skills, needs, and interests. This applies to kayaking, swimming, the zip line, horseback riding, and extends through the entire roster of opportunities at the Fenton campground.

“When you have a disability or medical condition the last thing you want to do is go to camp and feel even more different. We offer the same camping experience for everyone. For those with extra needs, we have medical staff on site to assist them, but participation is the same for each camper,” said Bailey.

Every year the YMCA hosts their gala with a different theme and it translates in the entire décor and entertainment selection process, for the very special community evening.

Bailey finds immense joy in the collaborative process she and her fellow staff members coordinate and prepare together for all-year long. No item is left without a themed imprint, including the raffle prize packages.

“This theme has been so exciting. We tried to do things in the most unusual and surprising way. We have a skydiving package, because as you know Superman can fly. We also have a table donated from Flint Handmade with images of almost every superhero incorporated on the top,” she said.

“We are just a local-based organization. We try to use local talent. It just made sense,” Bailey said of seeking the artistic creations and warmth of pairing with Flint Handmade.

This month’s gala was a concept brought to reality by YMCA Associate Director Shelly Hilton, who began her work with the organization decades ago working at the camp’s Fenton Township location.

“It is her baby-was her brainchild. She just loves this so much. It has been totally a work of love from the beginning. The whole thing is fantastic,” said Bailey.

This summer will be special for staff, campers from the past and the present too,

“We plan to have throw-back camping adventures in the style of the 30’s and 40’s, culminating with a major celebration on July 25 bringing together visitors from the past with the newest ones to experience the camp,” said Bailey.

YMCA Summer 2015 is set to be an outstanding one, in honor of Camp Copneconic, and 100 years in providing unforgettable and often otherwise unattainable adventures, of much joy and benefit without discrimination.

For tickets to attend the YMCA of Greater Flint Super Gala, or to donate items for the event or camp: Shelly Hilton at 810-732-9622. Donations for the Partner with Youth Fund to provide scholarships for needy children to attend camp and use the YMCA services: Pam Bailey at 810- 232-9622.

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