The University Record, October 9, 1995

United Way funds support special Y programs for needy

By Rebecca A. Doyle

More than 100 people found temporary shelter there.

Programs and facilities helped 300 families in Washtenaw County spend time together in relaxing family activities.

At least 35 families found affordable child care there during times of family transition.

More than 300 youth took advantage of day or overnight camping programs this summer.

All of these services were provided at low or no cost to families in Washtenaw County in need.

Not a bad record for an organization that, according to its Vice President Linda Coon, “is mostly known for fitness programs.”

But the Ann Arbor YMCA, Coon says, is much more than gyms and pools and programs for keeping fit.

“There are four major areas—emergency housing, youth at risk, child care and camping programs—through which we distribute funds received each year from Washtenaw United Way,” Coon says.

The Ann Arbor Y, first established in 1858 by U-M students, was the first YMCA in the state of Michigan. In 1904, the Y moved into its first building, and in 1910 opened a pool at the Fourth Avenue site. By 1912, the Y had begun a camping program.

As times changed, so did the programs the Ann Arbor facility offered. In 1987, the full child care operation opened. In 1989, an addition to the building on Fifth Avenue made available 63 more single rooms for men and women, a total of 100.

Those 100 rooms and funds from United Way and other gifts enable the Y able to provide emergency shelter for those who need temporary housing at little or no cost. United Way funding also helps in the area of youth at risk, providing families that might not otherwise have any way to share activities with memberships that allow them to take part in family fun nights, free swim nights and other activities geared to the whole family.

Finding adequate and affordable child care has become an issue for many single parents, and the YMCA offers child care at reduced rates to families that are in transition to single parent/single income as well as those that are financially strained. More than 35 families with children ages 2-1/2 to 6 were helped this year.

Scholarships were awarded to more than 300 children and youth who might otherwise never be able to spend time at a camp. The YMCA’s day camp, Day Camp Birkett, and Camp Al-Gon-Quian, a resident camp, are the sites of many learning situations that incorporate interpersonal relationship exchanges and multicultural experiences with the traditional sing-around-the-campfire and marshmallow toasts.

The Ann Arbor YMCA receives both non-designated and designated funds from the Washtenaw United Way. United Way funds have accounted for $100,000 of the Y’s $3 million budget, although Coon says they have been told to expect less in undesignated funds this year.

The University’s United Way campaign runs through October. Campaign chair Maureen Hartford announced a $1 million-plus goal this year, and a theme that asks donors to “give $1 more per week.” Funds received in the first week of the campaign total $151,779.

Anyone with questions about the U-M campaign can send e-mail to