Taste of the Season

by Chris Booth

The second leading cause of child deaths in our country is drowning. The Kernersville Family YMCA wants to extend the education and encouragement of swim lessons to all children so that they have the confidence and skills that is takes to swim. There is no community pool in Kernersville, however, the YMCA is fortunate to have four bodies of water, two that are open year-round. Swim lessons are offered throughout the year and yet there are numerous children in the Kernersville community that are unable to participate in these life-saving sessions.

For some children it is a matter of transportation. The YMCA partnered this fall with the Kernersville Elementary School to offer free swim lessons to all 2nd graders. A YMCA bus picked up the kids at the school and transported them to the Y. For nearly half of these children, it was the first time they had experienced this sort of training. This was possible thanks to a generous donation from an anonymous donor.

For others, it is a simple matter of finances. Even with an improving economy, budgets are tight for many Kernersville families. While learning the life-saving skills of swimming is important, it can be hard to afford after basic necessities that many families struggle with on a daily basis.

The Kernersville Family YMCA will not turn away any child that desires to learn to swim. To keep this promise, staff and volunteers raise funds every year during its Annual Giving Campaign. This endeavor raised just over $190,000 in 2018 to serve the Kernersville community, offering vital classes like swim lessons to any man, woman or child, no matter their ability to pay. It also enables the YMCA to offer free programming such as LiveStrong to cancer survivors and a community cycle class to those who live with Parkinson’s. Scholarships are also available so that families can become members at the YMCA. With nationwide membership now a feature of the YMCA, people can visit any branch, no matter which one they originally joined.

Each December, the Kernersville Family YMCA holds its annual Taste of the Season event. Its purpose is to help raise awareness of the many programs offered by the YMCA and help raise the dollars to help fund those programs, while also providing a fun-filled evening. The Paul J Ciener Botanical Garden will host this year’s event, which will be held on Friday, December 7 from 6pm-9pm.

“This is a perfect way to kick off the holiday season,” said Susanna Nunn, Kernersville Family YMCA board member and volunteer chair of the event. “It is not only a time to socialize with friends, it is also giving back to a good cause.” The focus will be on raising money for swim lessons and water safety for our community. The evening boasts several local restaurants that will be sharing samples of their favorite dishes with local craft beer and wine. An orchestra from Atkins High School will perform. A silent auction will take place, highlighted by tickets to local college and professional sports games. Some other items will include a weekend getaway at a beach house, a family photography package and an after-hours pool party for a group at the YMCA. This year’s Taste of the Season will also highlight special selections from KidsCreate, a group of young artists that sell their artwork at the Farmers Market in Kernersville each year.

Childcare will be offered at the Kernersville Family YMCA. While parents enjoy a night out, the kids will take part in pool party themed activities. They will go swimming, enjoy dinner and play games.

Sarah Valliere, Engagement Director of Group Exercise and Wellness at the Kernersville Family YMCA, will lead this year’s efforts. “Last year we raised over $12,000, even in the midst of a major snow storm,” recalls Sarah. The 2017 Taste of the Season was the largest grossing event ever in the event’s history; that was impressive considering the weather was a challenge and many could not attend. Hoping for better conditions and a focus on helping kids learn to swim, Sarah feels like 2018 could be even more successful than ever!

And that is a great thing, because the need is definitely great! If you are interested in helping to sponsor the event or donate an item for the silent auction, please contact Sarah Valliere at s.valliere@ymcanwnc.org. You can also get your ticket for the event by calling the Kernersville Family YMCA at 336.996.2231 or online at www.KernersvilleYMCA.org. Childcare is available at the Kernersville Family YMCA for an additional cost. Do not wait. The expectation is that this event will sell out!

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