Portland, OR. The Oregon Convention Center was filled with over 1,000 YMCA of the Columbia-Willamette supporters for its 150 Years of Service Celebration. The year long 150th celebration, culminating on October 27th, raised $1,375,000. Board of Trustees Chair Carol Terrell, Grammy Winner Amy Grant and YMCA of Columbia-Willamette President and CEO, Bob Hall worked to make the night memorable. (Photo credit, Andie Petkus)

The YMCA Kid’s Choir Opens the Evening Entertainment.

Guests enjoy the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette historical boards display, which helped share the story of 150 years of service that began in 1868.

A generous donation of a Land Rover Discovery from Freeman Motor Co., Carpet Mill Outlet and Financial Reserve Raises $80,100

The 150th Birthday Celebration culminated in an intimate concert from  Amy Grant

From YMCA of the Columbia-Willamette, by Harrison Clifford.

Since 1868, our mission to put the Christian principles of love, respect, honesty, responsibility and service has been at the center of all our programs. Last year alone, we served more than 68,000 people in more than 200 locations, and helped children, families and adults of all ages experience personal growth, strengthen relationships and better communities.

“The YMCA is so much more than a swim and gym,” Bob Hall, President and CEO of the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette said. “The mission of the Y extends to the whole person—spirit, mind and body.”

Bob kicked off the night’s festivities by recognizing the unsung heroes of the last 150 years—the staff members and volunteers of our organization who work with our Y members, participants and parents every day.

“The impact the YMCA has had over these last three centuries is a tribute to YMCA staff, more than it is a tribute to leaders like me,” Bob said. “Everybody in the association, both staff members and volunteers, should know how much we appreciate their dedication, because they are the lifeblood of this organization.”

Over the course of the night, our donors and guests contributed generously to our mission. Funds were raised for scholarships, chaplaincy, the purchase of the Beaverton Hoop YMCA property and the development of our new wilderness camp on the Mt. Hood National Forest.

During the 150th celebration, there were many raffles to choose from, including the opportunity to win prizes such as a Beach Getaway, Portland Date Night, Mini Tesla for Kids and YMCA Lego Camp experiences. Guests also had the chance to bid in the live auction on once in a lifetime experiences to see Hamilton on Broadway, watch the US Open Championship Tournament and relax under the Tuscan Sun in Italy.

The big raffle winner of the night was bidder 516 who took home the 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE, retailed at $36,329—courtesy of sponsors Freeman Motor Company, Carpet Mill Outlet and Financial Reserve.

Following the live auction portion of the night, we asked our donors and guests to help champion our mission by supporting the building of YMCA Camp Duncan’s Woods and the purchase of the Beaverton Hoop YMCA property, through two paddle raises.

The first paddle raise was in support of developing YMCA Camp Duncan’s Woods, a new high-adventure overnight camp for at-risk youth situated on Mt. Hood. The chance to develop this 160-acre plot of land, which was donated by Cindy and Duncan Campbell, is a “once in a lifetime opportunity,” Bob said and will provide positive life-impacting experiences in a safe and welcoming outdoor space for at-risk youth for years to come. Guests were able to see the impact of YMCA Camps after watching Skylar share his Y Story on video—about his own personal growth through participation with YMCA Camp Collins, and how he learned to cope with symptoms of his ADHD.

“The biggest thing camp has helped me realize is that I can be just like everyone else, even with my challenges,” Skylar said. “It’s the smell, the environment, the birds chirping, the horses neighing, the kids having fun and laughing—I enjoy that. I love hearing other people have as good a time as I do at camp, because that’s something important, and that’s something I want to share.”

The second paddle raise of the evening will help us purchase the Beaverton Hoop YMCA property. “The Beaverton Hoop Y has such an impact on youth,” Bob said. “In 2017, more than 10,000 youth were impacted by this facility, and we want to keep that going.” Before the second paddle raise session began, guests were shown just how powerful and transformational the Beaverton Hoop Y facility has been for developing youth in the area—with a video about Donovan Tafua and his mother, who shared their Y Story.

“There’s many reasons why Donovan excelled as a player at the Hoop—every coach that came through there not only had an interest in Donovan, but they genuinely cared for every child that came through the doors,” Donovan’s mother said. “They mentored them to the point where it wasn’t just about what was on the basketball court, but it was about how they become grown men—right before your eyes.”

By purchasing the Beaverton Hoop YMCA, not only are we continuing our commitment to the members we already serve there, we are making a more permanent promise to the Beaverton and surrounding community for decades to come.

In recent years, the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette has made strides in reinvigorating the “C” in the YMCA, making Christian values evident in the culture of our Y and the communities we serve. A large part of this work is thanks to the commitment of our YMCA chaplains—who equip, support and care for our Y family. Audience members were able to witness firsthand the impact of Y chaplaincy, after being introduced to Josh—a former homeless man who got his life back on track after meeting and working with Clark County Family YMCA Chaplain, Roger Button.

“What chaplains do is take the time to care … and administer help to people.” Bob said.

During the night, we also raised funds for scholarships, to continue making our programs more accessible to a greater number of people. Over the last five years our local YMCA has provided $9 million in free and reduced services to more than 25,000 people. Scholarships are critical to our mission to serve all.

The night ended with an intimate concert featuring Amy Grant. At one point during the performance, Grant shared the stage with a children’s Choir for a rendition of “Thy Word.” Following the performance, Amy thanked the children and said “that’s what I love about the YMCA … everyone has a place to belong—especially the children.”

We are thankful to all of our generous donors, all of our sponsors and are especially grateful for our presenting sponsor Hoffman Construction, who helped make the night possible. “We are deeply indebted to all our sponsors, and all of the volunteers who came alongside us,” Bob said. “And who helped make this night one to be remembered.”

“We are happy to be able to support the Y on such a special night for our entire community,” President of Precision Construction Troy Weller said.

The YMCA of Columbia-Willamette looks forward to continuing to foster new relationships and building more thriving and inclusive communities.

“I hope we continue to make impacts in our communities and that we try to keep people connected,” YMCA Board of Trustees Chair Carol Terrell said. “One of the big reasons I love the Y is because everyone can come. The rich, the poor the disenfranchised, anybody is welcomed. And we create that strong sense of community when we all come together.”