Longtime Y supporters Kevin and Mary Olson graciously hosted the Greater Joliet Area YMCA’s 2022 Heritage Club luncheon at their beautiful Morris home on Saturday, September 10. More than 40 guests attended the event, which celebrated charitable giving at the YMCA and recognized those donors who have chosen to make a legacy gift to the YMCA.
Heritage Club membership is granted to those individuals who have included a gift for the YMCA in their will or estate plans. Many Heritage Club members have also generously established a named endowment fund or supported the YMCA’s Mission Strong Fund, which helps to ensure that no one is turned away from the Y due to the inability to pay.
Message of Thanks
The afternoon began with Greater Joliet Area YMCA Board of Directors Chairman Guy Christensen welcoming those in attendance and thanking them for their continued support of the Y’s mission. Christensen noted how excited the YMCA was to see the Heritage Club event return for the first time after the COVID-19 pandemic. Christensen then invited Endowment Development Committee Volunteer Jackie Bersano to give an invocation before lunch was served.
Celebration of Charitable Giving
Following lunch, Endowment Development Committee Chair Susan Lee gave a speech recognizing Heritage Club member Paul Gantzert for his many contributions to the Y. Gantzert, a longtime Y supporter, created an endowment fund to provide scholarships to the Y for families living in our community.
Lee also welcomed a surprise guest in William Macias. Macias detailed the impact Gantzert has had on his life. As a child, Macias participated in the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program. Following a harrowing experience around water, Macias said that Gantzert encouraged him to learn to swim and made sure that he was able to attend swim lessons at the Y. The two men have remained friends to this day.
Ensure a Brighter Future
Greater Joliet Area YMCA President and CEO Katy Leclair then spoke about the Y’s Safety Around Water program, which provides free swim lessons to children in Joliet and the surrounding communities.
During the 2022 summer camp season alone, the Y provided more than 1,000 swim lessons through the Safety Around Water program to children from local community organizations, including the Harvey Brooks Foundation and the Institute for Leadership Excellence and Development (iLEAD), among others. This fall, students in Joliet District 86, Troy District 30C, and Fairmont School District 89, as well as children from the Boys and Girls Club of Joliet, will participate in free swim lessons through Safety Around Water.
Leclair thanked the local community agencies and schools which have partnered with the Y to help children learn this valuable life skill, and credited the support of endowment funds and other planned giving support for the continued success of the program.
An Invitation for Impact
Endowment Development Committee Volunteer Donna Zanzola closed the celebration by reiterating the Y’s appreciation for those donors who have generously made legacy gifts to the Y over the years. The YMCA’s doors continue to expand with open arms and it is through gifts like those provided by Heritage Club members that make this possible.
To learn more about Heritage Club membership and the Y’s endowment fund, please visit https://www.jolietymca.org/giving/planned-giving/