Little Free Library Lands at Smith Family YMCA

The Smith Family YMCA is now the proud home of a Little Free Library. There are more than 60,000 of these free book exchanges worldwide, and each of them operates on one basic principle: “Take a book, return a book.”

Located to the right of the Y’s entrance, this Little Free Library is available to the entire community. By providing 24/7 access to books, we hope this service will foster a love of reading for the youth in our area.

If you’d like to donate a book or two, you’re more than welcome to do so. Just simply place them in the Little Free Library. There are also opportunities to post information on community events and programs. To learn more, visit us at the Front Desk.

Special thanks to the Kiwanis Club of JolietJoliet Public Library and YMCA Teen Achievers. Without their help and support, this would not be possible!

Teen Achievers: Now Developing Future Leaders in Plainfield

Teen Achievers, one of the YMCA’s most rapidly growing programs, expanded into Plainfield South High School at the start of the 2017-2018 school year. Through this new partnership, the Y has been able to strengthen its commitment to youth development and teach more students to believe in themselves and strive for success.

Under the guidance of the Y’s Teen and Young Adult Advancement Team, the Plainfield South program has met on a weekly basis since October. Topics of discussion often center around coursework, college preparation, career development and life skills. In March, several students visited seven universities throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington D.C. as part of the program’s annual college tour.

Teen Achievers at Plainfield South
Year 1 By the Numbers

  • 24 Student Participants
  • 10 Freshmen, 13 Sophomores & 1 Junior
  • 11:1 Female-to-Male Ratio
  • 7 Students Attended College Trip through Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington D.C.

Since 2005, Teen Achievers has been offered at Joliet Central and Joliet West High Schools. In that time, 93 percent of the graduating seniors in the program has advanced to institutions of higher learning.


Maurice Fears, Executive Director – Teen and Young Adult Advancement
[email protected]
(815) 729-9638, ext. 610

Awaken Summer Imagination

Healthy Kids Day is April 21

Summer is a time when children can let their imaginations run wild! From creating their own to plays to building forts in the backyard, there’s no limit to what kids can dream up—provided they’re properly supported.

The Y wants to ensure all kids in our community awaken their summer imaginations through healthy eating habits and physical activity. Because when a child is happy, healthy, motivated and excited, something amazing is inevitably going to result. When children have the opportunity to grow and reach their true potential, they can accomplish great things.

That’s why, on Saturday, April 21, all Greater Joliet Area YMCA locations are hosting Healthy Kids Day events to ensure families have the tools they need to help kids stay active and engaged all summer long. Attend one of our Healthy Kids Day celebrations to learn about summer program options, participate in activities and take home exciting giveaways.


C.W. Avery Family YMCA
9 a.m.-Noon

Galowich Family YMCA
10 a.m.-Noon

Morris Community YMCA
10:30 a.m.-Noon

Smith Family YMCA
1-3 p.m.

In celebration of YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day, the Y offers the following tips to help families develop healthy habits:

  • High Five the Fruits and Veggies – Make sure kids get at least five servings a day, the minimum number nutritionists recommend to maintain healthy childhood development. And to keep kids’ taste buds evolving, have everyone in the family try at least one bite of a new fruit or vegetable at least once a month.
  • Read Together – The summer is a great time to enjoy books, and 30 minutes a day goes a long way! Take trips to the local library or create a family reading challenge to see who can log the most minutes of reading. Encourage youth to create their own stories as well.
  • Get Moving! – Activities that require movement also help kids flex their mental muscle. Use materials in unique ways: ask youth to build models, manipulate tools or develop their own theatrical scenes.
  • Play Together – Play may be the best way to prevent childhood obesity. By putting more play into your family’s day, you will soon find yourself getting the activity that will have your family feeling energized and strong.
  • Make sleep a priority – Doctors recommend 10-12 hours of sleep a day for children ages 5-12 and 7-8 hours per night for adults. Sleep plays a critical role in maintaining our healthy immune system, metabolism, mood, memory, learning and other vital functions.

11th Annual Giving Gala Raises Nearly $140,000 in Scholarship Funds

The Greater Joliet Area YMCA raised nearly $140,000 in scholarship funds at the 11th annual Giving Gala held Feb. 24 at the Bolingbrook Golf Club. The event included dinner, auction and live entertainment for 365 guests.

The Greater Joliet Area YMCA has been serving families, regardless of age, income or background, from throughout Will County and its surrounding areas for 90 years. Since its inception, the Giving Gala has raised more than $875,000 to benefit families within those communities, helping to ensure that no one is turned away from the Y due to the inability to pay.

The evening’s mission focus was brought to life by three videos that shared YMCA stories of impact. Guests were then asked to “Raise the Paddle” in an auction-style format to support the Y’s scholarship program. Contributions ranging from $5,000 down to $50 were made, totaling a record-high $50,000 in YMCA scholarships. One featured story was of Patrick, a Morris Community YMCA summer camper and Gala guest who delivered a surprise invocation after the audience viewed a moving video detailing how the Y’s scholarship program provided him with the “Best Summer Ever.”

Oswego’s Randy Miles volunteered his time as the event’s auctioneer. The top auction item was a two-week stay in a Hawaiian condo. After a lively bidding war, the package was auctioned twice, raising a total of $5,000. Other live auction items included a Chicago Entertainment package with “Hamilton” tickets and a Maserati Levante rental provided by Continental Auto Sports, as well as unique Cubs and White Sox experiences that included game tickets, transportation and signed memorabilia. Prior to dinner, guests also had the opportunity to bid on more than 100 silent auction items while enjoying complimentary cocktails and appetizers. The Gold Coast Orchestra gave a dance-inducing performance to end the night.

In the fall of 2019, the Y will host an all-new fundraising event that will lift up its mission and honor YMCA Annual Campaign supporters, while also continuing the Giving Gala’s tradition of excellence. Additional information will be announced at a later date.

This year’s Giving Gala volunteer committee members included: Annie Barrins (Morris), Rob Epley (Plainfield), Kathy Goeken (Shorewood), MaryKay Hrdina (Plainfield), Mark Johnson (Plainfield), Maria Macris (Joliet), Nick Macris (Joliet), Mary Olson (Morris), Kristin Orban (Joliet), Ryan Peterson (Plainfield), Karen Rouse (Plainfield), Adam Underhill (Minooka), Mike Wickkiser (Morris) and Barb Ziegner (Joliet). Senior Development Director Julie Wilkinson and Annual Giving Manager Brittney Halliday provided staff leadership.

Sponsors Included:


Caterpillar, Inc.


BMO Harris Bank

CITGO Lemont Refinery

41 North Contractors LLC
Edward Jones
First Midwest Bank
D’Arcy Buick GMC
Grundy Bank
Law Offices of Samuel J. Erkonen, P.C.
Midland States Bank
Morris Hospital and Healthcare Centers
Plainfield Area Chamber of Commerce
Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center

Hometown National Bank

DeGeus & Associates, Inc

Mahoney, Silverman & Cross Law Firm

Rathbun, Cservenyak & Kozol Law Firm

Charles Vincent George Architects
Coilplus Illinois

Edward – Elmhurst Health
JP Morgan Chase
Rod Baker Ford

Connelly Electric
Friedrich-Jones & Overman-Jones Funeral Homes & Cremation Services
Hamilton & Antonsen

Barvian Realty – Coat Check
Carlson Holmquist-Sayles Funeral Home – Wine Pull
Edward Jones – Check Out
Heartland Bank and Trust – Silver Circle
Laurie Peyla Rambo, Spring Realty – Heads or Tails
Lucas, Thompson & Wise, LLC – Champagne Display
SERVPRO of Joliet – Valet
State Representative Mark Batinick, 97th District – Check-In

Alpha Media- WJOL AM
Impact Outdoors
Morris Herald News
Herald News
Joliet Chamber
Plainfield Chamber
Shorewood Chamber
Grundy County Chamber
New Lenox Chamber
Graphic Promotions

Greater Joliet Area YMCA Receives 68K Donation from Joliet Township

From left to right: Maurice Fears, Dan Vera and Jim Watts

The Greater Joliet Area YMCA received a generous $68,000 grant from Joliet Township to fund youth programs and services. Joliet Township Supervisor Dan Vera presented the donation to YMCA President and CEO Jim Watts and Executive Director of Teen and Young Adult Advancement Maurice Fears during a March 22 Board of Directors meeting.

Part of the gift will fund a service-learning trip for a group of Joliet high school students who participate in the Y’s Teen Achievers program. This summer, the students will travel to Houston, Texas to work alongside teens from other YMCAs across the country and help rebuild communities devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

The donation will also allow the YMCA to revamp the supervised playroom at the Smith Family YMCA, located at 1350 S. Briggs Street. This high-usage space is home to hundreds of area youth who attend the Y’s before and after school care program. The space will receive a facelift that includes new paint, furniture and a refrigerator, and additional games, storage and technology.

Lastly, the gift will provide summer camp scholarships for low-income families. For 10 weeks during the summer, YMCA camp provides area kids with a safe, stable place to learn and grow, and receive a healthy meal and snack when school is not in session.

As one of the nation’s leading nonprofit charities, the YMCA is committed to strengthening local communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Through its financial assistance and scholarship program, the Greater Joliet Area YMCA works to fulfill its mission of ensuring that its programs are available to everyone and no one is turned away due to the inability to pay.

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