Heritage Club Dinner Serves Up Gratitude, Inspiration

The Greater Joliet Area YMCA held its annual Heritage Club Dinner on Friday, August 4 at the home of benefactors Ed and Gloria Dollinger of Joliet. More than 60 of the YMCA’s closest friends attended this special invitation-only gathering.

Invitees included contributors to the YMCA’s general endowment fund as well as those who have established a named endowment fund. It is often the case that these funds bear the donor’s name or that of a loved one. Heritage Club membership is also granted to those who have included a gift of any size for the YMCA in their will or estate plans.

The Joy of Giving

Frank Margaron, retired Joliet businessman and longtime member of the Smith Family YMCA, addressed the crowd about his impetus for creating an endowment fund in the name of his late wife, Twilla. Twilla passed in the summer of 2010, but the endowment fund bearing her name continues her legacy of love, as its annual earnings help fund swim lessons for underserved children in Will County. Frank was honored at the dinner with a photo collage of grateful children who learned to swim at the YMCA this past summer because of Twilla’s fund.

Two Lives Changed: “No one could help us. No one would help us.”

Michele Grocesly recalled the situation for her and her now fourteen-year-old son Don when they came to the YMCA in 2014. They had fallen on hard times and were living in their car. Through the scholarship program—which ensures no one is turned away due to the inability to pay—the Y offered them a place to shower, stay warm and feel a sense of normalcy during an awful situation. YMCA staff also connected her with resources, leading to temporary housing at Morningstar Mission while she pursued culinary studies full-time at Joliet Junior College.

Michele shared her family’s story at the 2017 YMCA Giving Gala, where she made connections with staff at the Bolingbrook Golf Club. Later, when a sous chef position soon opened there, she applied and was hired. The income allowed her to afford a small apartment in Joliet where she and Don are now proud to reside.

Michele was a special guest at the Heritage Club Dinner where she thanked supporters for caring about her family through their darkest time. Unexpectedly, she reconnected there with former middle school teacher, Kathy Macris, now retired and an active volunteer with the YMCA. There were no dry eyes as Michele thanked Kathy for seeing something special in her, lighting a spark and drive that has carried her through her trials.

An Invitation for Impact

Endowment and estate gifts support the YMCA and the communities it serves by fund life-changing programs for years to come. To establish a named fund, a pledge of $10,000 or more may be spread over three years. Gifts to the general Y endowment are also welcome, with investments of $2,500+ recommended for the Heritage Club. Outright gifts, pledges and stock contributions are accepted.

For additional information, please contact Senior Development Director Julie Wilkinson at (815) 782-0825 or jwilkinson@jolietymca.org.

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