eugene ymca press release

Eugene, Ore., March 15, 2020 - The Capital Campaign for a new Y celebrates significant gifts totaling $650,000 that mark critical contributions toward the $42 million goal. 

"This project will be built because of significant, timely contributions like these," said Eugene Family YMCA Chief Development Officer Danielle Uhlhorn. "This visionary philanthropy means that we are much closer to realizing the impact of a new Y in our community--- one that will guide youth to reach their full potential and thousands more to health and wellness and away from chronic illness regardless of age or income."

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust granted the new Y project $350,000 this winter. The Trust helps support community-focused organizations at every level of their development. 

"The events of the last year have only served to further highlight and crystallize the importance of community organizations that help serve and support children and families every day and in moments of crisis," said Jeremy White, Program Director for the Murdock Trust. "We are grateful for organizations like the Eugene Family YMCA that provide safe, nurturing spaces for children, teens, individuals and families to connect and flourish."

Longtime friends of the Y, Herb Merker and Marcy Hammock, committed $100,000 to the project, which they envision will have a similar positive influence on young people as the Y did in the early 1950s for them.

"We remember fondly going to the YMCA in the early 1950s for social events like dances and to play ping-pong," Herb says. "It was a social center when we were growing up and provided positive experiences. We are certain the new Y will serve future generations in the same way."

Marcy's first experience at the Y was in swim lessons, where she vividly remembers the last step of earning her swimming certification: jumping off the high diving board.

As a high schooler, Marcy spent a lot of time at the Y socializing with her friends, many of whom she didn't see during the school day because they had different schedules and classes.

She looks forward to the day the new Y is open to the community.

"It is very important to me that the Y is available to all ages--- seniors as well as toddlers," she said. "It's a place for the community to gather and to find their niche. Different people have different needs. A building as old as the current one wasn't designed for our population now. I think it's wonderful that the new design will fit the needs of today and into the future."

The final design of the new Y includes a teaching kitchen to focus on nutritional education; a high-tech maker space with S.T.E.M. equipment; a splash pad in the Aquatics Center to serve families with younger children; dedicated playgrounds for Y preschool classrooms; additional spaces to offer programs to address chronic illness, such as Parkinson's, arthritis and diabetes; and double the number of group exercise classrooms. The structure also includes seismic upgrades to support, shelter, serve and aid the community after any disaster, including a significant earthquake.

"We believe in giving back to the community, and the Y is a critical component of a strong community," said Joe Karcher, who, with his wife Cathleen, contributed $50,000 to the new Y project. "We focus our efforts on organizations that support families and children, and the Y's work in this realm is exemplary."

Joe credits his time on the YMCA Board of Directors in the 1990s with illuminating his awareness of the breadth of Y programming. He says that the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the adaptability and resilience of this 134-year nonprofit.

"Combined with a recent anonymous gift of $150,000, these contributions showcase the far-reaching support for the Y and its work," said Eugene Family YMCA CEO Brian Steffen. "We are thrilled to build upon this foundation of support and fulfill the vision these donors have for a vibrant, expansive and more impactful new Y in our community."

A groundbreaking and ribbon-cutting date will be announced as soon as the timing of critical funding, including the state's $15 million award from the 2019 legislative session, is finalized.


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 more than 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 2020, the Eugene Family YMCA awarded $413,506 in financial assistance. The YMCA has been serving the Eugene-area since 1887.

March 15, 2021