By Taliyah Chalmers
It was a celebration fit for a queen, king or “The King.” The 2019 Annual Memphis & Mid-South YMCA Celebration was April 18 at the Graceland Soundstage A across the street from the historic home of the King of Rock N’ Roll, Elvis Presley.
With Graceland in the backdrop, the spotlight was turned toward the men and women who make all the area YMCAs a success, serving more than 4,000 in water safety lessons, providing more than 750,000 meals and operating more than 60 program sites.
The 165-year history of the YMCA was outlined with the organization coming to Memphis at the Fogelman Downtown Y more than 100 years ago.
Inspiring YMCA success stories were shared from Whitehaven to Collierville. Millington resident Mary Hayes shared her journey of being the grandmother learning how to swim. Those associated and helping the organization to fulfill its mission were recognized too.
Each local YMCA handed out awards, including Boomer Leopold (Red Triangle Award), Beverly Robertson (Community Advocate Award), Marybeth Griffin (Outstanding Youth Award), Millington Municipal Schools (Solutions Program Youth Development Partner Award), Katherine Dillender (Service of Youth Award), Vincent Joplin of Delivering Word Bible Church (Christian Mission Award) and Cordova Community Church Journey Fellowship (Outstanding Community Partner Award).
In Millington, Executive Director Lizzie McLean said the success of the YMCA in Flag City is a perfect example of community working together.
“We want to recognize Bethany Huffman and John Roundtree,” McLean said. “Bethany has been my campaign chair to ensure solution youth mentorship program is funded by the community. The Millington Area Chamber of Commerce also supports us at a very high level.”
The YMCA members were also excited to unleash the Y on the Fly program. It was described at the Y on wheels with a van bringing the services of the YMCA to the public. The Y on the Fly will provide healthy meals, books for reading and a chance for children to explore science and art and learn safety in water.
The day concluded with the $1 Million Mission recap. Thomas B. Davis YMCA of Whitehaven raised $30,525, and the Oxford YMCA collected $30,925. The YMCA Childcare Services raised $36,409, and Church Health YMCA of Crosstown collected $52,819.
Then at Northwest Gibson County YMCA, a total of $64,281 was collected over the year. Fogelman Downtown YMCA raised $66,249. Back in Mississippi, the Olive Branch Family YMCA raised $89,414. Then the Sweeney YMCA on Park Avenue raised $100,094.
The Cordova Family YMCA collected $103,513, and the next highest total was raised by the Millington Family YMCA with $129,367. The YMCA at Schilling Farms in Collierville raised $130,145. Then the final contribution came courtesy of the Association Support Center, with $255,282 giving the group a grand total of $1,089,022 to reach the goal.