Snowfest Still a Needed Fundraiser for Williamstown Youth Center

By Stephen DravisWilliamstown Correspondent
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The Youth Center still depends on the annual Snowfest fundraiser for support. The 11th annual event will be held Sunday, Feb. 2, at Lansing Chapman Rink and Towne Field House.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Williamstown Youth Center's capital campaign may be in the rear-view mirror, but the non-profit still needs to raise funds going forward.
So this Sunday's 11th annual Snowfest at Williams College is both a chance for families to beat the winter doldrums and the No. 1 fundraiser for the center.
"It's our only big gig for the entire year," Executive Director David Rempell said. "We need it in order to provide the scholarships we provide for children and families and continue all our programs."
Those programs have expanded dramatically in the 16 months since the center moved from its old digs on Cole Avenue to its new facility on the campus of Williamstown Elementary School.
The proximity to the school has — as expected — increased participation in the center's after-school program. A recent letter from board President David Armet reported the center has seen a 35 percent increase in after-school program enrollment in the first year.
The center also has made itself available to the school for indoor recess on extremely cold days. The WYC continues to run a variety of sports programs and camps during mid-year school breaks and over the summer.
And it has reached out to form community partnerships with organizations like Bennington, Vt.'s, Vermont Voltage Premier Soccer Club, which will run a camp at the youth center this summer, Rempell said.
This Sunday, the Voltage will operate a clinic at Snowfest, offering skills drills and 3-on-3 games in the college's Towne Field House.
The field house and nearby Lansing Chapman Rink both are utilized for Snowfest, where for $35 per family and $5 per child, families can skate (rentals available for a nominal fee), participate in arts projects, use the climbing wall under supervision of experienced climbers, play on an inflatable obstacle course and bounce house and try their cornhole skills.
Rempell said the best part of Snowfest is not the money — important though that is — but the quality family time attendees enjoy.
"Seeing families together, enjoying themselves, where you see children and adults working on projects together and just enjoying their time," he said. "I've experienced it as a parent: When you've got young children, life is so hectic that there really are not enough times when you can just enjoy each other."
As for the fundraising dimension of Snowfest, Armet's letter notes that the center's goal for Sunday is to raise $25,000.
Rempell said he was not sure whether the Youth Center's backers realize that the successful capital campaign did not signal an end to the center's financial need.
"I do know that it's almost commonsensical for people to say, 'Gee, they have this beautiful new facility. This is an organization that probably does not need the support that it needed when they were in the old youth center building,' " Rempell said.
"But in terms of our operations, we're still a very small non-profit, and we're trying to do more and more. The financial situation of the Youth Center, which I feel is on a very secure footing, is one we need to remain very conscious of.
"I have not seen anything specific to say that [people think fundraising is not necessary]. But on the other hand, we have a number of people who have supported the campaign generously over a three- or even five-year time period, so folks who might be paying pledges to the Youth Center this year, for example, might not be as prone to make as generous a contribution at Snowfest time as they have in the past. That's one thing we're very sensitive to."

Tags: fundraiser,   winter event,   youth center,   

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