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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, May 04, 2019 1:00 am

Furthermore ...

At-risk teenagers on YMCA's radar

To learn more

Contact Marty Pastura at (260) 918-2140 or email marty_pastura@fwymca.org.

Most probably think of physical fitness when they think of the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne, but the organization builds more than strong bodies. Its ambitious new fundraising initiative seeks to raise $10 million for a Youth Development Endowment Fund emphasizing “transformative experiences.”

“Over the last several years, the Y has intensified efforts to engage teens through more appealing programs that attract young people with an array of interests,” said Angela Hughes, chair of the YMCA Metropolitan Board of Directors, in a news release. “In 2018, we served 47,500 adolescents and teens during some of the most difficult times of their life. But that's not enough. We keep hearing statistics about a generation of kids in despair – drug abuse, bullying, violence, suicide – right here in Fort Wayne. We want to position the Y to do more for our community by addressing this crisis – with preventative programs that help teens experience a sense of purpose and belonging. Our goal is to encourage young people – with love, hope and a vision for a successful future.”

The endowment fund will be used to support programs that “develop soft skills, build character and create experiences that encourage teens to become responsible, productive adults.” The majority of its distribution will support YMCA programs, but other area youth-serving nonprofits aligned with the Y's mission also will benefit. 

“Our community has shown incredible generosity toward the Y, which has allowed us to make a difference in many lives,” said Marty Pastura, president and CEO of the YMCA. “Young people are our future's greatest natural resource, so we think it's important to expand our capacity to serve them.

“There are countless organizations equipped to help youth in crisis. However, through our research, we didn't find any endowment that exclusively funds programs aimed at equipping young people with essential life skills that will prevent them from missteps in the future. We believe this is an investment in our youth that has the potential to truly pay dividends for generations to come.”

The Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne will house the investment, which was established with $275,000 from the YMCA, including a $25,000 gift from Wells Fargo.