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YMCA issues call for donations
By JON WILSON
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 17, 2000
ST. PETERSBURG -- Several large gifts from wealthy donors have boosted the St. Petersburg Family YMCA's campaign to build its new headquarters to nearly 70 percent of its $11-million goal.
Now the Y goes to the grass roots.
Starting this week, it will seek to raise about $400,000 from about 1,400 Y members and other individuals in the community.
Groups of volunteers will start by contacting members, who can expect phone calls starting soon.
The community phase of the campaign begins at a difficult time. An outreach director in the Lealman area was charged earlier this week with sexually assaulting two girls and fondling a third.
"It's a concern how everybody is going to react to the YMCA," said Doug Linder, the Y's president and CEO.
"I hope they react that this can happen to any organization, that people will realize that the Y does a whole lot of good things, and hopefully let the Y deal with this and get past it. We've still got well over a hundred people who love and care for kids here," Linder said.
About $7.6-million already has been raised toward building the new Y in the Central Plaza area. It will rise in a vacant lot bounded by First and Third avenues S, between 34th and 31st streets.
Major contributions have included $2-million from Tarpon Springs eye surgeon Jim Gills and $1-million from St. Petersburg resident Eleanor Stewart Marr. The new building will be named the Jim and Heather Gills YMCA of St. Petersburg.
The campaign's community effort also will solicit direct gifts. Donors will be able to buy courtyard bricks for the new building and have names inscribed on them. Bricks with one-line inscriptions are $100; two lines cost $125; three lines cost $150.
The goal is to sell 4,000 bricks, which will be placed at the new building's front entrance, said Rick Montondo, the Y's vice president of financial development.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Shaun King, who is a member of the Y board, will lend his name and personality to the campaign by autumn, Montondo said. King might make public appearances on behalf of the Y or even pop up on a billboard.
Groundbreaking and first stages of construction also are expected this fall, depending on how the permitting process moves, Montondo said.
"The key is we have over $5-million in cash," Montondo said. "It's not like this is all pledged money."
Volunteers will attend one of three meetings scheduled at the Y to prepare volunteers for contacting members. The first is 8 this morning; another is noon Friday and the last is 5 p.m. May 25.
© St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.