Update: YMCA campaign asks community to ‘be the drop’ to create ripples of change

Photo by Terry Vlisidis.

Update (Thursday, Jun. 15, 2023):

The YMCA of Eastern Ontario has announced that the Estate of Larry Gibson is again offering to match donations to the annual Strong Communities campaign.

According to a release from the YMCA, the Estate will match donations up to a total of $40,000.

“We are extremely grateful for this generous gift and encourage you to make your donation while you can double your impact. Every $1 donated provides $2 in support of kids, teens and seniors in our communities,” the YMCA said.

Help them reach their goal of $420,000 by making a donation today on their website.

Original article (Thursday, May 11, 2023):

The YMCA of Eastern Ontario is launching its Strong Communities campaign to improve access to Y programs through its financial assistance programs.

The focus of this year’s annual campaign is on small acts creating big change. Any donation, no matter the size, can be the drop that creates the ripples of change for people in our community, the organization expressed.

The YMCA shared the story of Cheryl, who was supported by the organization’s financial assistance program:

One day, two years ago, Cheryl got out of bed and fell to the floor. She was dizzy and her head was pounding. She felt exhausted despite having had a full night’s rest.

“I was terrified,” she said.

With determination, she was able to get herself to an emergency room. Unfortunately, a diagnosis was many months in the future, as she was sent to round after round of specialists. It took almost a year to discover that she had suffered from a stroke – the kind that doesn’t show up easily in diagnostic tests.

While the diagnosis was welcome, and medication helped with the headaches, it didn’t help Cheryl’s balance. At just 50 years old, she was only able to walk with support, often using the walls of her home to help propel her to-and-from her home “office” where she worked.

That’s when she discovered the YMCA of Eastern Ontario and had a fitness program designed just for her. Six months later, she is able to walk on her own and, although she still has a way to go, she is on the road to feeling like her former self.

“I don’t know what I’d do without the Y,” Cheryl said.


Each of us has the power to do a small act that can create big change, the YMCA noted in a media release. No matter how big or how small, we can be the drop that creates a ripple to make a wave that helps people just like Cheryl through the YMCA’s financial assistance program.

“As a charity, we have a mission to help people reach their potential whether they are nine or 90,” said Rob Adams, CEO of the YMCA of Eastern Ontario. “No one is ever turned away from the Y because of their inability to pay. Our financial assistance program removes financial barriers that would exclude people from the programs they need.”

According to the release, the YMCA supports 22 per cent of memberships through financial assistance, an increase from 20 per cent pre-pandemic. Support for kids attending summer camps has risen from one in five to one in three over the same period.


One of the big stories coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the increased need for interpersonal connection and the toll the pandemic has taken on mental health, the organization stated.

The Y said that it has seen a surge in the number of teens accessing teen-specific programs like Teen Night at Brockville Y where up to 200 teens drop in on Friday nights for a meal and to socialize in a positive and safe environment; or the Alternative Suspension program at Kingston Y where teens get support during short-term school suspensions and long afterward. 

The YMCA also shared a story about Charlie, who was referred to the Y by his probation officer. His mom walked out on him and his sibling in early December, leaving them alone in a one-bedroom apartment that flooded. A staff member from Connect Youth said: “We’re supporting him to get connected to housing services, Chidren’s Aid Services, etc. I asked him today if he had anything he looked forward to under the circumstances. [Charlie told me:] ‘YMCA Teen Night every Friday. It’s the only thing I go to for now’.”

Continued support for teen programs is the only thing that stands between Charlie and the empowering programs provided by Y mentors, the organization expressed.

Be the drop to help Charlie and other teens in our community.


Jessie is eight years old. She loves reading and dinosaurs, and wants to be a scientist when she grows up, according to the YMCA. Her eyes sparkle when she talks about her day camp experience last summer when she attended Urban Explorers. She loved learning about local plants and the important role that insects play while she earned Y value beads and made new friends.

Will you be the drop that helps Jessie attend summer camp again this year?


Every dollar raised through the Strong Communities campaign goes directly to people just like Cheryl, Charlie and Jessie, the YMCA stated. The Y’s financial assistance program ensures that those who need it are not denied access to healthy programs – programs that really make a difference.

Help them reach their goal of $420,000 by making a donation today on their website.

“People can make a donation and they can participate in our three key fundraising events: Send a Kid to Camp launches next week; the Gord Brown Memorial Golf Tournament on August 16 is already sold out but there are still opportunities for sponsors; and a perennial favourite, the George E. Smith Memorial Fire Truck Pull is slated for October 14,” Adams said. “We all have the power to be the drop that can really change someone’s life.”

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