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YMCA vows not to exclude disadvantaged from membership

Date: 1/21/2009

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD The YMCA of Greater Westfield began 2009 with a new philosophy: "Membership for All."

In light of the gloomy economic climate, the Y has launched a new income-based membership program for those who would otherwise be unable to afford the facility.

"In these tough economic times, the YMCA of Greater Westfield is trying to make it easier than ever to become a member of the YMCA and enjoy all the benefits that come along with it," Gregg Thompson, CEO of the YMCA of Greater Westfield, said. "In an effort to open the YMCA doors to additional hard working individuals and families 'Membership for All' was created. 'Membership for All' enables all individuals and families to get healthy, strengthen family bonds and build friendships that strengthen our community."

Thompson explained that families earning below $55,000 a year and individuals earning less than $35,000 per year are eligible for the "Membership for All" program. He noted that a regular family membership costs $63 per month and income eligibility for the program is set on a "sliding scale." Families making between $54,999 and $45,000 pay $50 per month; families earning between $44,999 and $35,000 would be required to pay $41 per month, and so on.

Thompson noted that this program is funded due to the money received from the YMCA's Annual Campaign, which raised approximately $66,000.

"We are excited about this new initiative and see this as another way the YMCA of Greater Westfield is serving our mission and our community," Board President Dr. Frank Horrigan said, adding that part of the Y's mission is to involve all people in the community, not just those wealthy enough to afford it.

Thompson explained that those seeking membership through the new program should contact the facility in order to set up a tour and determine their income-based membership rate. He noted that those in need of the program must verify their eligibility by bringing in their most recent tax returns or a month's worth of pay stubs within two weeks.

For more information about the "Membership for All" program, contact the YMCA of Greater Westfield, 67 Court St., at 568-8631.