MAHONING VALLEY Children's Museum, YMCA enter into partnership

Children from the museum can use the YMCA facilities and vice versa.
YOUNGSTOWN -- With the Children's Museum of the Valley as a backdrop, officials from the Youngstown YMCA announced a partnership with the museum.
The YMCA also launched its "Partner of Youth" fund-raising campaign.
Mike Shaffer, director of the central branch of the YMCA, noted that both organizations share common goals when it comes to youngsters.
He said kids from the Y can go to the Children's Museum for a day camp and the youngsters at the museum can use the resources at the YMCA.
Elizabeth Nohra, executive director of the museum, said that the partnership is a perfect fit for both organizations.
"We look forward to working with the Y not only to help families in the Valley to provide resources, educational and health and physical fitness, but also to be a part of the sweeping changes in the downtown that are happening now," she said.
YMCA officials have set a $233,000 goal for its "Partners of Youth," which will provide financial assistance for those unable to afford membership fees or participate in the programs. The funds raised also will be used to develop new programs.
Shaffer emphasized that no child is ever turned away from a YMCA program for an inability to pay for a membership or program fees.
He said the need for the campaign is especially critical since one out of five children receive some level of financial assistance to participate in programs.
Shaffer said that last year some $300,000 was provided by the YMCA to area children and families to enable them to take advantage of such activities as learning to swim and playing in youth basketball leagues.
Many children need help
Tom Grantonic, director of the Davis Family YMCA in Boardman, said that contrary to some popular perceptions, there are underprivileged families living in the suburban areas that also need financial assistance to get their children involved in safe and wholesome activities.
Ken Rudge, executive director, said the Youngstown YMCA has one of the largest youth basketball programs in the country with participation levels for boys and girls exceeding more than 1,300 children.
The combined YMCA facilities have a total of 20,000 members, according to Rudge. However, he said 20 percent of the membership could not take advantage of all that the YMCA has to offer without some financial help, much of it on a sliding scale basis, from the "Partners of Youth" fund-raising effort.
Tom Hodge, president of the YMCA board, offered an example of how a father, who was laid off from his job, was able to remain active in the Indian Guide with his children because of the assistance he received with funds raised in the community.
More than 80 volunteers have been enlisted to serve in the campaign drive and will attend a Feb. 15 organizational meeting at the Children's Museum of the Valley.
The YMCA, which has been in the community for 122 years, is the largest, nonprofit social service agency in the Mahoning Valley. Local businessman Joseph Pipino, executive vice president of Gallagher-Pipino Insurance, said he is optimistic the campaign will be successful in reaching its goal.
A spin-a-thon, held recently at the Central Branch, raised $40,000.