Family Y gets big donation, 99-year lease at Grand Raffle

The Family Y of Fayette County, at its annual Grand Raffle event on Saturday, announced several major developments in its efforts to build a new facility in Vandalia.

Under the theme of “Building the Future,” the fund-raising event raised money for the YMCA’s 2009 operating budget.

But this year, it also served as a platform to announce the receipt of two significant donations toward the construction of the organization’s proposed $2 million building.

Dr. James C. Underwood, president of Kaskaskia College, along with college representatives Bob Funderburk and Jim Beasley, presented the Family Y with a 99-year lease agreement on about 5 acres of land on the college’s 40-acre Vandalia campus. That property for the YMCA is valued at $85,000. In making the announcement, Underwood said that the new facility would be a “great addition” to the local campus.

The second major announcement of the evening came when Liz Heinzmann, Ricky Gottman, Chuck Hutson and Steve Knebel, representing the Old Capital Foundation, presented a check for $1 million to Rick Myers, president of the Family Y of Fayette County board. Additionally, the foundation has pledged $500,000 for an endowment fund once the building is constructed. That endowment will be used to ensure that operating funds are available in the future.

Also announced at Saturday’s event was the hiring of John Ashdown as executive director of the YMCA, effective Feb. 16. Ashdown has been a member of the organization’s board of directors and building committee.

“I’m really excited about the position,” Ashdown said. “I’m looking forward to serving the community and moving the Y forward.”

He said his focus in the beginning will be on fund-raising efforts for the new building, but also will emphasize creating new programs and enhancing existing programs.

“We want to offer a wide variety of quality programs to bring more members into the YMCA,” he said.

He also noted that a series of public meetings will be held to announce major donations for the building.

The Grand Raffle also included live and silent auctions. Gary Hannagan, of Hannagan Auction Co. of St. Elmo, ran the live auction portion of the evening.

The big winners at Saturday’s event were Byron Sikma and Ben Timmermann, who each received $5,000 when they split the $10,000 grand prize. Other winners were: NAPA, $150; First National Bank employees, $25; Keith and Kathy Schaal, $50; Mark Ritter, $75; a group of YMCA members, $100; Bob and Vicki Buzzard, $125; and Don Sheafor, $150.

For more information about the fund-raising effort, call the Family Y at 283-1258.

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