YMCA Expands Financial Assistance Program

Erie, PA – The YMCA of Greater Erie is expanding its financial assistance program – an income based program that ensures all people have equal access to YMCA programs and services regardless of their ability to pay.

“YMCAs are vital charitable organizations that want all people to feel welcome regardless of their personal circumstances,” says Gerry Vandemerwe, YMCA of Greater Erie CEO. “Perhaps its job loss, an extended illness, divorce – or any number of unforeseen situations – that cause an individual or a family to re-evaluate their involvement at the Y.  It’s in these stressful times that the Y can be most helpful in filling the gaps until they are back on their feet.”

The Y’s Financial Assistance Program is funded through generous contributions to the Y’s Annual Campaign; the Y returns more than $1 million annually in scholarships and free programs and services back to the community.

“The program’s expanded structure now includes four levels of income and subsidy to make sure that our program reflects the median household income of Erie County (Source: Erie Vital Signs County – $48,000, City- $36,000).  Y’s are reflections of the local community; we want a program that is flexible to help people when they need us most,” said Vandemerwe.

For example, a family of four can earn as much as $75,300 and qualify for a 25% subsidy and that same family of four can earn as much as $25,100 and qualify for a 75% subsidy. Each award considers factors such as income, family size, household expenses and personal circumstances.

“When our son began his battle with Leukemia, we cut back on expenses because of the weekly trips to the Cleveland Clinic.  The additional regular expenses for gas, meals and hotels hit us hard. But the YMCA knew the importance of the stress relief that exercise could offer and provided us with

a scholarship which helped us through the journey. We continue to donate to the YMCA’s Annual Campaign to help others going through their own personal journeys,” said Mike Sparks.

Vandemerwe stresses that applications are handled with the utmost confidentiality and discretion. “We don’t pretend to know what is going on in someone’s personal life.  We find, more often than not, our public persona is not necessarily an accurate reflection of what is going on behind closed doors,” said Vandemerwe. “If the Y can help you and your family, simply come to your local Y location and ask for an application for the Financial Assistance program – or you may download from ymcaerie.org.”

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