“The Y is more than a health and fitness facility. It is a place dedicated to the development of the spirit, mind and body of those we serve, believing that everyone deserves the chance to benefit from a Y experience,” said Kevin McAlexander, president and CEO of the Franklin County Family YMCA.

To make that belief a reality, a fundraising gala will be held at the Early Inn at the Grove on Saturday, Aug. 17 beginning at 6 p.m. Tickets are available for $100 per couple and include a meal for two, live music by Barefoot West and a silent auction.

“We’re really excited,” said Jessica Thomason, the Y’s director of membership. “It’s a great band, great food.”

All the money raised will benefit the Y to help the nonprofit offer financial assistance for childcare participants and other community-centered programs.

As the Y’s summer day camp for kids came to an end last week, Jamie Stump, the nonprofit’s childcare coordinator, was busy organizing the Y’s before and after school childcare programs for when school started this week. She said the Y has expanded its programming this year to include all elementary schools in Franklin County, except Sontag, which is covered by Henry Fork Service Center.

Before and after school care is available at Rocky Mount, Burnt Chimney, Boones Mill, Windy Gap and Dudley elementary schools while after school care is offered at Glade Hill, Lee Waid, Ferrum, Callaway and Snow Creek.

Stump said more than 250 children were in the after school program last year and estimates that there will be about 300 children this year. The Y began offering after school care in 2000.

This summer’s Y kids’ day camp had 225 youth registered with an average of 120 to 135 students attending each day. This final week of camp included many students whose parents teach school and had to return to work this week.

Tiffany Creech had enrolled her 5-year-old daughter, Delaney, in the day camp so she could go back to school to get ready for her students. Creech said she “knew she [Delaney] was safe and happy and able to socialize.”

This was 9-year-old Kayleigh Brubaker’s third year attending the summer day camp. She said she especially liked doing arts and crafts, swimming and taking field trips to Splash Valley and Waid Park.

Sheena Shelton, who has worked at the Y for three years, is the school-age childcare assistant coordinator. She said she loves the experience of being with all ages. “I like to be a part of their life and hope they remember this as a good experience,” she said. “My main goal is to have a positive impact on their lives.”

Shelton’s own daughters, who range in age from 7 to 12, have attended the camp for three years.

In addition to expanding the childcare program, Thomason said the Y has added new wellness programs and new equipment at each of the locations. The Y also has renewed its commitment to fight chronic disease in the community by offering Script Fit for medically referred training and the Rock Steady program to combat the effects of Parkinson’s disease.

The Y currently has 2,473 membership units that include individual and family members, which represent about 7,100 individuals, Thomason said.

Sandy Adams enrolled her children in the Y program to help them develop self-confidence. “Three years later, and they’ve grown because of the love they’ve been shown,” she said. “They have learned social skills, swimming and how to get along with others. They’re not shy anymore and are excited to tell me about their day at the Y!”

George Washington, a longtime member and former board member, said the Franklin County Family YMCA is a staple in the community. “It helps define the community, similar to that of the Harvester.”

McAlexander added, “Every week thousands of area residents rely on the Y and the programs provided here to improve the quality of life for them and for their children.”

Tickets for the Aug. 17 fundraiser are available for purchase at the Y in Rocky Mount or at www.franklincountyymca.org under the Events link.

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