eugene ymca press release

Bill And Michelle Service Provide $4 Million Leadership Gift To Create Lasting YMCA Impact In Lane County

The largest single gift toward the Y's Capital Campaign represents commitment to the Y's crucial role in the community.

Eugene, Ore., January 8, 2020 - The Eugene Family YMCA is thrilled to publicly acknowledge Bill and Michelle Service's gift of $4 million to the Y's Capital Campaign to build a new Y. The gift is an increase of $3 million from their prior pledge.


"Bill and Michelle's impact on this Y and our community will be legendary," said Chip Radebaugh, Board President of the Eugene Family YMCA. "It's actions like this from selfless individuals that will grow and strengthen this place we call home. I'm honored to serve on the board with Bill and to have a shared history at the Eugene Family YMCA with Bill and Michelle."


The couple's donation is the largest single gift from private donors to the Y's Capital Campaign. The Eugene Family YMCA was awarded $15 million in August from the state.


"A robust, expanding YMCA is essential to our community's health," said Bill Service, a Eugene Family YMCA Board Director since 2016, past CEO of Elmer's Restaurants, and entrepreneur in the food, beverage and other industries. "Michelle and I are honored to play a pivotal role in creating a facility that will expand YMCA programs."


Bill Service grew up at the Eugene Family YMCA, attending afterschool and summer camp programs. As a high schooler, he attended Y retreats to Mexico, Yosemite and Montreal for the 1976 Olympics. As a teenager, one of Bill's first jobs was at the Y's Welcome Center.


Michelle, who grew up in California, also had formative experiences at the local YMCA. Her first job was as a water aerobics and swim lesson instructor.


They both sold buttered toffee peanuts to fund their Y summer camp attendance.


"A week of summer camp cost $40," Michelle said. "I had to raise half of that in peanut sales."


Those life-changing experiences meant that Bill and Michelle made sure their three sons were raised at the Y. The boys attended swim lessons, summer camp and tennis lessons for years. When they were in middle and high school, the Y was a safe place to hang out with friends after school.


Now, their grandchildren represent future Y kids.


"We believe in the miracles that the Y gives families of all shapes and sizes because we have witnessed its broad and diverse impact over three generations," said Bill and Michelle. "We are inspired and committed to making this project a reality. The case for constructing the new YMCA in Eugene is compelling and timely. We hope others will consider supporting this project in a significant way."


The current Y facility was built in 1955 to serve a community with one-third of today's population. Now, 65 years later, it is in a state of costly structural repair--- no longer able to accommodate nearly 20,000 facility visits each month or reconfigure scale-up its spaces to meet ever-increasing demands for YMCA services.


"Our community without the YMCA is unfathomable," Bill said. "We need the continuity and the breath and depth of innovative programming for the future and we can't do it in the current building."


The Y's new state-of-the-art 70,000-square-foot facility will be built at the corner of 24th Avenue and Hilyard Street. It is projected to accommodate 35,000 visits a month, and it is the stepping stone for YMCA expansion of services and programs to address the county's most pressing needs.


"Bill and Michelle's historic and inspiring gift is not simply a gift to the Y. It is a gift to future generations of Lane County who will benefit from a modern and flexible facility designed to evolve with the needs of individuals and families for years to come," said Eugene Family YMCA CEO Brian Steffen. " The effort toward our community's new YMCA now transitions to an $8-million-dollar major gifts campaign in 2020 to meet the state funding deadline by January 2021 and prepare for the beginning of construction."


Significant project milestones include a $15 million award by the state in the past legislative session; making the second of three land payments to the 4J School District of $712,500 in September 2019; meeting Betty Soreng's challenge grant to raise $1 million for the project; and now, the announcement of Bill and Michelle Service's $4 million gift.


The goal for the Y's Capital Campaign is $34 million.


The Y's plan for the future includes:

Continuing to grow afterschool programs-in places such as Cottage Grove and Bethel school districts where large numbers of students qualify for free and reduced lunch;

Growing disease-fighting and disease prevention programming in areas associated with diabetes prevention, maintaining physical health upon receiving a cancer diagnosis, helping seniors remain independent, and implementing sought-after programs associated with devastating illnesses such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's;

Expanding the aquatic center to teach more youth water safety skills, support rehabilitation care and preventative fitness and offer recreational and competitive swimming;

Operating a teaching kitchen to help families and individuals gain the nutritional knowledge vital for good health;

Offering academic tutoring and programming for youth in the Academic Achievement Center;

Increasing wellness classes and community events in the community room; and

Providing a fully ADA-accessible and flexible floor plan designed by local firm, PIVOT Architecture, to accommodate a significant increase in membership.




About the Eugene Family YMCA

The Eugene Family YMCA is one of the region's leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Each year across Lane County, the Y engages nearly 18,000 people regardless of age, gender, income or background-to nurture the potential of children, teens and seniors; improve health and well-being; and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. In 2018, the Eugene Family YMCA awarded $451,618 in financial assistance. The YMCA has been serving the Eugene-area since 1887.


Media inquires, please contact:

Eugene Family YMCA
Beth Casper
541-686-9622 ext. 240
503-302-8776 (mobile) 


The Y. For a better us.

Founded in 1887, We're Lane County's Oldest Nonprofit.

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January 8, 2020