SOAR mentor John Wylie, SOAR mentee Diesel Armstrong, President/CEO Mark A. Dennis Jr. and Cyndi Armstrong. Photo courtesy of McGaw Y

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With community support from individuals, businesses and organizations, McGaw YMCA raised a record-breaking $230,000 at its Annual Gala on Jan. 23. More than 400 people attended the Gala, which provides essential support for McGaw YMCA’s educational and leadership programs for Evanston youth.

President and CEO Mark A. Dennis Jr. said, “In our 130th year, we have a collective responsibility to excel in strengthening community life for everyone. That’s the ultimate measure of success.”

Attendees began the evening by entering MetaMedia, where they could talk with middle-school “makers” about their projects in technology, science, and design. The lab was established with a grant from the Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation and has beome a haven for hundreds of Evanston youth.

“The gala is…so important for supporting all the worthy youth programs at the McGaw YMCA,” said Y supporter Penny Sebring. “The MetaMedia kids are not only learning new skills, they are learning to appreciate each other and work together while having fun. All of this helps them build the foundation for becoming successful adults.”

Lynn Ryan, who sponsored the event with her husband, Jay Ryan, also chaired the Gala planning committee for the fourth year.

Funds raised at the Gala will support youth programs like the summer learning program Y Readers, scholarships for Camp Echo and the Children’s Center, mentor activities for Project SOAR, college tours for Y Achievers, supplies and projects in MetaMedia, and others.

“The Y Gala is…a cross-section of so many wonderful things about Evanston,” said Joe Flanagan, former McGaw YMCA board member and president and CEO of Acquirent. “You’ve got the University represented, the high school, grade schools, all the political forces, not-for-profits – everybody mixing it up. It is one of the few nights a year where there’s that kind of interaction.”