YMCA gets up to $500,000 matching grant for recovery efforts

Staff photo by Sam Yu. From left are Chris Colville, YMCA CEO, and Lisa and Marvin Ausherman

Staff photo by Sam Yu. From left are Chris Colville, YMCA CEO, and Lisa and Marvin Ausherman
Originally published in the FNP by Rebecca Savransky on Dec. 17, 2015


Lisa Ausherman remembers learning to swim at the YMCA. Marvin Ausherman remembers playing racquetball a few times a week for 10 years. He said he loved the sport, which often led to friendly rivalries with fellow players.

Their kids used the YMCA. Many people they worked with used the YMCA.

“I can’t imagine a Frederick without the Y,” Lisa Ausherman said.

So when much of the YMCA building at 1000 N. Market St. was destroyed in a Sept. 29 storm that left feet of water inside the building — and racked up about $2 million of damage — the Aushermans wanted to help.

The Ausherman Family Foundation has announced a matching grant of up to $500,000 — its largest-ever matching grant — to help the YMCA with its building repairs.

Donations toward the matching grant will count starting from the day of the storm up until December 2016. If the YMCA raises $500,000 in that time, the Aushermans will double it and the total funds raised will be $1 million.

The storm destroyed electrical panels, pool pumps, sewage lines and HVAC systems. It forced parts of the building to close for weeks.

Immediately after, the YMCA could not provide services for three days. It then moved its key services to other locations and operated off-site. Parts of the building reopened after about 12 days. But other parts took months to repair.

The building is now fully operational, said Chris Colville, CEO of the YMCA. But the repairs left the YMCA in need of funds.

“Ninety days and $2 million later,” Colville said.

The matching grant from the Ausherman Family Foundation will help alleviate the repair costs, Colville said. She’s hoping the community steps up to help the YMCA meet that $500,000 goal.

The Ausherman Family Foundation has been a long-time supporter of the YMCA, Marvin Ausherman said.

“It’s a really, really important component for lifestyle in the community,” Marvin Ausherman said. “In the business community, it’s part of what Frederick has to offer.”

As of this week, Colville said the organization has raised about $105,000.

Colville said the YMCA is essential for people in the community. It provides many different services and is the largest child care provider in the county. It supports senior citizens who need exercise and socialization. It helps people who may struggle with a mental health issue and need to workout for recovery, she said. It provides services free of charge to many Frederick County nonprofits.

So it’s really not about the YMCA, Colville said. It’s about all of the people who rely on it.

When the flood happened — and the building went from fully functional to nearly destroyed in a matter of minutes — Colville said her biggest fear was that the YMCA wouldn’t be able to serve those in need.

“What would that look like?” she asked. “If the Y went away in the community, how would that adversely affect us as whole?”

Colville knew that couldn’t happen.

“I don’t think that’s something that we can afford to experience,” she said. “That was my greatest fear.”

As part of a campaign to raise money for the YMCA and help to take advantage of the matching funds, the organizers’ main goal is to get people to think back to their favorite YMCA memory, said Leigh Adams, director of the Ausherman Family Foundation.

Reflecting back on a time when the Y was there for them, she said, might encourage them to donate — and to get their friends to donate.

Everybody has a Y story, Colville said.

“We want the Y to be sustainable because we want somebody else to have that same experience,” she said. “We want somebody else to create that memory for themselves.”