Bradford County Branch YMCA launches 2013 Strong Kids Campaign: Goal is to raise $20,000 for scholarships at the local Y
TOWANDA - When newly divorced mother Melissa Sentiff moved back to her hometown of Towanda in the early 2000s with her two sons, she didn't have the money to send them to the local YMCA.
However, she found out that she could get scholarships that would allow her children, who were ages 5 and 12, to use the Y and participate in the Y's programs, and she successfully applied for the financial assistance.
The scholarships enabled her younger son to learn how to swim at the YMCA and attend the Y's day camp.
Today, her younger son, Mark Grzella, is a certified life guard, and he recently represented Canton High School at the District 4 swimming championships.
The scholarships allowed her older son to use the Y's pool and participate in other activities and classes at the Y.
Today her older son, Jeffrey Cobb, holds an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force and is a police officer in Roanoke, Va.
"I believe the core values that the Y teaches are instrumental in their jobs" as lifeguard and police officer, said Sentiff. Those core values are honesty, respect, caring and responsibility.
On Wednesday, the Bradford County Branch YMCA kicked off a six-week campaign to raise $20,000 to help fund the scholarships it provides to people in financial need who use the Y, said Charity Field, executive director of the local Y.
The scholarships help area residents, for example, obtain memberships to the Bradford County Branch YMCA, attend YMCA-run after school child care programs, and attend the local Y's day camp, she said.
"No child is ever turned away" from participating in a program at the Bradford County Branch YMCA due to the family's inability to pay, Field said. The six-week campaign, which is called the Strong Kids Campaign, helps the Y be able to continue that policy, said Dena Miller, president of the board of directors of the local Y.
The YMCA held a breakfast on Wednesday to kick off the campaign. Attending the breakfast were state Rep. Tina Pickett, Towanda Borough Council President Mark Christini, Athens schools Superintendent Diane Place, Towanda schools Superintendent Steve Gobble, and members of the community and the board of directors of the Y.
The breakfast was sponsored by Hurley's supermarkets.
As part of the kickoff, teachers from the Towanda School District donated a total of $361 to the campaign, Field said.
All of the funds raised by the Bradford County Branch YMCA's Strong Kids Campaign are used locally by the Bradford County Branch YMCA, Field said.
Last year's Strong Kids Campaign raised $18,000, which exceeded the campaign's $15,000 fund-raising goal for that year, Field said.
For information on how to donate to the Strong Kids Campaign, call 268-YMCA. One option for donating is to make out a check to "River Valley Regional YMCA" and mail it to River Valley Regional YMCA, 9 College Ave., Towanda, PA 18848. The Bradford County Branch YMCA is a branch of the River Valley Regional YMCA,
In conjunction with the kick-off breakfast, approximately 30 Towanda School District children, accompanied by teachers and other school staff, walked together to school Tuesday from the Y. The walk, among other things, promoted the health benefits of walking. The Towanda police provided a safety escort for the walkers.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: email@example.com.