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Kishwaukee Family YMCA seeks donors to boost program participation

SYCAMORE – This year at the Kishwaukee Family YMCA summer camp, 10-year-old Belle Irick of DeKalb has made her own ice cream, played matball and made new friends.

“I think I learned how to make friends here,” Belle said. “There’s so many people around.”

About half of the children in the YMCA’s Summer Day Camp program receive financial assistance, although Belle is not one of them. The assistance is made possible through donations from local organizations and individual donors, Youth Development Director Lesley Feyerherm said.

The YMCA’s youth development programs depend heavily on outside funding, Feyerherm said. The Kishwaukee Family YMCA is in the midst of its annual fundraising campaign to help make those opportunities available to local children and others.

YMCA officials say donors make a big difference.

Overall, the YMCA provided $470,346 in financial assistance scholarships and program subsidies to low-income families and nonprofits last year. The assistance helped children access sports teams, swim lessons, or free meals, and also helped adults in need access programs such as the YMCA’s LIVESTRONG support group for cancer survivors.

YMCA also receives multiple grants to fund youth programs. They received a $5,000 grant earlier this summer for their Science Technology Engineering & Math (STEM) program that they matched with funds from its budget.

They also received a $20,000 grant from the American Cancer Society for their Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) program, which fights child obesity by teaching children about nutrition and the importance of staying active.

Also, Youth Engaged in Philanthropy donated a nearly $1,500 grant for YMCA to buy a Nine Square in the Air kit, Feyerherm said. Nine Square is similar to Four Square except that players hit the ball upwards across various beams.

So far, YMCA has raised $107,000 in this year’s fundraising campaign and hope to meet or exceed their annual goal of $146,000, said Debbie Madeley, YMCA director of development. The money will support children and adult programming, and allow residents to access the organization’s programs regardless of income.

Those who would like to send an individual donation designate their gift to be used for a specific program, or donate to the overall fundraising effort, which will distribute the money among various programs, Feyerherm said.

For example, the YMCA’s reading program began because of a local supporter’s passion for reading, Feyerherm said. Since it has been implemented, the library at the Y is now stocked with books, and students are learning in the summer instead of falling backward when they begin classes this fall, she said.

“If there’s something new and exciting, we want to try it if there’s somebody passionate in our community that will help us reach our goals,” Feyerherm said.

How to help

To donate to the Kishwaukee Family YMCA’s annual campaign, visit or call Madeley at 815-756-9577.

More information about programs at the YMCA is available online at

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