I got a chance to attend last week’s Strong Kids Kickoff for the Greenpoint YMCA and it was PACKED! Over 100 members of the community attended including Council Member Stephen Levin and local artist and Y volunteer Tim Kelly who works with the kids on an installation of the Puzzle Art Project. And to top it off ExxonMobil presented a check for $25,000! It was definitely an inspiring night.

The Greenpoint YMCA celebrated with an evening filled with art, performances, meaningful speeches and enthusiastic volunteers to kick off the 2010 Strong Kids Campaign. Local business leaders like Paul J. Pullo of Metro Fuel Oil, Chair of the Greenpoint Y Board of Managers, and Frank Carbone, Chair of the Campaign, gathered with over 120 guests, including community leaders, volunteers, parents, and children at the Greenpoint YMCA to enjoy the festive event.

Council Member Stephen Levin, Greenpoint resident and representative of the 33rd District, asked for the commitment of the community and for those “who are willing and able to give” to support the Greenpoint Y’s life-enhancing programs. Executive Director Melvin Tse noted that of the over 4,000 children in the Y’s programs in 2009, 80% of them participated for free or with financial assistance provided by the Strong Kids Campaign. This year, the Y will raise $150,000 to support the kids and families of Greenpoint.

The positive impact of the Y’s programs was highlighted by the installation of the Puzzle Art Project, by local artist Tim Kelly. Tim volunteers with Y youth participants of all ages 5 days a week, working with them on art as a means of self-expression. The beautiful installation took up the entire back wall of the gym, and featured art by youth participants who work with Tim on how to share their feelings like hopes, dreams for the future, fears, and conflicts. These sentiments were echoed by Vincent Evans Smith, a Y Scholar, who spoke and thanked the Greenpoint Y for “keeping [him] out of trouble, away from violence and giving [him] a second place to call home.”

At the end of the evening, Dan Grapski from ExxonMobil presented a giant check for $25,000 to the Greenpoint YMCA. Despite this extremely generous gift, there is still so much more work to be done. To support the Greenpoint YMCA, or for more information, please click here or contact Julia MacAllister, Director of Fund Development and Communication, at 718-389-3700 or jmacallister@ymcanyc.org.

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