YMCA hopes for funds

Chelsey Roath

Since 2008, the YMCA has sponsored kayaking that is aimed at helping at-risk, low-income juveniles as well as kids from the greater community.

Pepsi’s Refresh program is giving away millions of dollars each month to fund refreshing ideas that change the world. The ideas are submitted online where people vote for them, and the idea with the most votes will receive grants. There are different levels of grants and categories into which an idea can be submitted. Pepsi is looking to find ideas in areas such as the planet, neighborhood, health, food and shelter, and arts and culture.  Each business or individual that applies has the opportunity to win $5,000 to $250,000.

The Marquette YMCA has entered their summer kayaking program in the neighborhood category for a chance to win a $50,000 grant in order to expand the program.

The grant would be used to buy essentials that would help build a stronger program for the community. Of the grant $30,000 would go toward purchasing 20 kayaks, equipment and safety gear.  The rest of the money would be divided among staff wages, training, equipment storage and miscellaneous expenses such as transportation and lunches for the kids.

Sam Crowley, an instructor at the YMCA, is in charge of running the program and has worked at the Bay Cliff health camp since 1996 as a kayak instructor. He is certified for kayak instruction from the American Canoe Association.

Crowley believes in this program and believes in the impact it can have on these kids.

“A lot of these kids look at kayaking but never thought they could do it,” Crowley said.

Crowley went on to describe the kids’ reactions after they experience the program and how their attitudes went from being negative to positive.

“There is a real change in the kids after the kayaking,” he said.

This year, another big change within the program is the YMCA partnering with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Lake Superior Village and a social worker working with the Juvenile Court System. Those in charge of the kayaking program are hoping to hire a teen adviser so the kids can have someone to look up to.

Karen Kasprzack, the supervisor at Lake Superior Village Youth and Family Center, also believes in this program and wants to see it flourish.

“It’s been a great program. It allows the kids to have the chance to interact with nature,” she said.

Kasprzack said that kayaking provides a wide variety of opportunities for the campers. They get to learn about team building and cooperation, but most importantly they are allowed the chance to overcome their fears in the real world. They start to look at obstacles in their own lives and believe they can overcome them.

Those who are interested in voting can go online to http://www.refresheverything.com/ymcamarquettecounty and vote once a day in the month of March. The voting ends March 31.  Those ideas that are ranked within the top ten will be receiving the grant.