By David Leone
The good news: The Kerr Family YMCA is halfway to its goal of raising $456,789 for wellness and learning programs for people who can’t afford them. The bad news is that they’re only eight days away from the end of the drive.
The Wake Weekly recently spoke with YMCA volunteer and longtime donor Darlynn McCarter about why the Y is so important of a cause to support.
The Wake Forest resident of 32 years has been contributing to the annual drive for 20 years and volunteering for even longer.
“My children were in the YMCA after school and summer programs when they were in elementary school. It made a big difference,” she recalls. “I see Y Learning and Camp High Hopes as opportunities we have right now in our community to provide kids with some of those same benefits.”
This year, McCarter taught Cooking Matters, a nutrition class for the summer camp kids at the Ledford Center on the seminary campus, most of whom have never learned how to identify foods that are high in sugar, and healthier cooking methods, for instance.
With the high prevalence of Type 2 diabetes being diagnosed in children, learning nutrition is as important as ever, she says.
She says most children have heard about diabetes and know it’s a problem, but they’re not so sure what they can do about it.
“There’s that ‘Aha!’ moment when they learned that 100-percent juice has a lot of sugar in it,” she says. “It gives them the information to make their own choices and make better choices.”
The annual We Build People campaign benefits children and adults in the Wake Forest and Wakefield area directly. None of the money goes to fund the Y itself; in fact, it’s just the opposite — member fees and dues, as well as contributions of volunteer hours — support the Christian organization’s annual fund drive.
The Y provides scholarships and financial assistance for all its programs, including Y Learning, the YMCA’s standardized tutorial program; summer day camps; after school programs; youth sports and adult fitness programs, such as Livestrong, which helps people with cancer.
Even with all the volunteers, the programs still require paid staff time, food and materials, bus rentals and other costs, so donations are important.
But people who may wonder if the programs aren’t having the desired effect should have a chat with McCarter. A girl she helped tutor last summer was having the devil of a time with multiplication and division — when they met again this year, she’d become a long-division expert.
“I’m so excited that she’s so confident in what she’s doing,” McCarter adds. “We gotta keep that going, we gotta keep that for these children in our community. In 10 years they could be teaching my grandkids. They’re an investment.”
“I’m living in a world today that my parents and grandparents made possible,” she adds. “I have a responsibility … you need to give back.”
To donate online, see ymcatriangle.org/give/annual-campaign. Make sure to designate the funds are going to the Kerr Family Y, so they can ensure the money is spent locally.