[Lehigh Valley, June 6, 2014] Three local companies reaffirmed their commitment to the health of the residents of the Slate Belt region by making significant donations to the Slate Belt YMCA in recent weeks. Gifts by Merchants Bank, Deer Park® Natural Spring Water produced by Nestlé Waters North America, and Majestic Athletic, a subsidiary of VF Licensed Sports Group, were announced at a photo shoot in the lobby of the Slate Belt YMCA on Friday, June 6th. Naming opportunities for all three companies will be provided within the core YMCA facility, which is scheduled to open this year. Merchants Bank has pledged $50,000 and is sponsoring the Child Watch area, where young children of YMCA members can play safely under supervision. Deer Park®/Nestlé Waters has pledged $25,000 and is sponsoring one of two athletic fields that will be located on the vast green space on the Y property. Majestic Athletic has made a significant gift, which will be recognized with the naming opportunity for the branch director’s office.
Anthony J. Biondi, CEO and Director, and Tracey S. Smith, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer presented the check for Merchants Bank. Per Biondi, “Merchants has been a cornerstone of the Slate Belt region for over 120 years; the Slate Belt YMCA will join us in that designation for the next 120 years. We have been a proud partner in the effort to build a Y in the Slate Belt in small ways already. Sponsoring the Child Watch is our way of making a ‘bigger splash.’”
Eric Andreus, Natural Resource Manager, presented the check from Deer Park®/Nestlé Waters. Andreus oversees several regional springs that serve as sources of water for the Deer Park® brand, including one in Washington Township. Andreus has spearheaded water donations for several previous Slate Belt YMCA fundraising events, including the annual Walk/Run. “The health and wellness of the communities where our springs are located is important to us. We hope the new Deer Park® Athletic Field will be a place for all in the community to come together to be active and healthy.”
Tom Schupper, Social Compliance Manager, VF Imagewear, and his young son presented the check for Majestic Athletic. “Many of our employees live in the Slate Belt, and Majestic’s roots are in the Slate Belt. It was very important to our employee community relations committee for Majestic to help make the Slate Belt YMCA a reality. As a current member of the Greater Valley YMCA and the parent of children who are learning to swim in the Nazareth YMCA pool, I am delighted the company will be one of the founding corporate partners of the Slate Belt Y.”
Frank Frey, CEO and President of the Greater Valley YMCA, and Jill A’Hearn, Branch Director of the Slate Belt YMCA, received the donations. Frey commented, “The Slate Belt YMCA belongs to and is shaped by the Slate Belt community. Gifts from the community funded the core facility; gifts from the community will fund the pool. The support given today by these three companies brings the fundraising total for the next phase of the project to almost $1M. We need at least $2M to build the type of pool the community wants. The Founders Committee for the Slate Belt YMCA is very grateful to everyone who has ‘made their splash’ so far. We ask that everyone continue to ‘Think Big’ because we aren’t done yet. Everyone needs to give in order to make the remaining phases of the project (the pool and the gymnasium) a reality.”
While the presentation was made in what will be the lobby of the Slate Belt YMCA, dump trucks and backhoes were busy just outside the window. “The site work was that last piece of the project to be started,” commented John Goffredo of Nu Cor Construction. “We couldn’t get outside until after this long cold winter was over.” Jill A’Hearn, who will run the local Y branch, shared her excitement that the project will soon come to a close. “Everyone has waited a very long time for the Y to open. Seeing the daily changes is proof that the wait won’t be too much longer!” No official date for opening has been set at this time but the YMCA staff assures that the community center is on schedule to open in 2014.
About Merchants Bank
Established in 1890, Merchants Bank is a locally owned and operated community bank. Headquartered in Bangor, PA, Merchants has nine branches throughout Northampton County. In 2013 the Bank was recognized for its community involvement and volunteerism through two awards: Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce’s The Spirit of Forks Award as well as The Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley’s Spirit of Volunteerism Award. Merchants believes in the community and knows that having a Y benefits everyone. (www.merchantsbangor.com)
About Deer Park® Natural Spring Water produced by Nestlé Waters North America
Deer Park® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water is the leading spring water brand in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Nestlé Waters North America’s portfolio of beverages offers a variety of options such as calorie-free bottled waters, some with sparkling and natural flavors, and delicious iced teas and fruit flavored beverages with fewer calories than typical sweetened drinks. As Americans are seeking to improve their well-being and that of their families, the availability of healthful beverages is more important than ever. The company’s products are widely available at retail stores and can also be delivered directly to homes. Nestlé Waters North America is the largest bottled water and third-largest non-alcoholic beverage company in North America by volume. This commitment to healthy lifestyles makes Deer Park®/Nestlé Waters and the Y perfect partners. (www.deerparkwater.com.)
About Majestic Athletic
Majestic, a subsidiary of VF Licensed Sports Group, is a leading global provider of authentic sports licensed apparel and branded team uniforms for Major League Baseball. Majestic was started in Bangor, PA in 1976 and employees over 500 associates in Easton, PA. A long-time partner, Majestic shares the Y’s dedication in its efforts to strengthen the Slate Belt community through the areas of youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.
About the Slate Belt YMCA
The Slate Belt YMCA will open in 2014, the only community center to serve all residents in the Slate Belt region. As with all YMCAs, the Y will offer programming for all ages, from infants to active older adults. A large section of the core facility will house a Wellness Center, complete with fitness equipment and free weights. This space will be open all hours the Y is open for adult use; youth use will be scheduled, assuring appropriate supervision. A large, dividable, hardwood floored fitness studio will provide multiple spaces for group activities, from “Mommy and Me” toddler activities to youth sports to cycling and aerobics to fitness classes designed specifically for our Silver Sneakers and other active adult members. Unique to a Greater Valley YMCA branch will be two outdoor athletic fields, where both kids and adults can practice, play and perhaps even compete. The current plan includes building, once fundraising is complete, the only indoor community pool in the region. One advantage of YMCA pools is that some section of the pool is available for free and lap swim almost every hour that the Y is open. This is in addition to the many lessons, classes, and fun aquatic programs offered for every age group. Even though the building is not yet open, the Slate Belt YMCA is already providing Silver Sneakers programming at Weona Park, hosted its second Healthy Kids Day this April, and this summer is once again partnering with individual communities to offer recreation camps. For the second summer the Y and the Borough of Pen Argyl will host two weeks of camp at Weona Park. The Y and the borough of Bangor’s recreation program will offer an additional two weeks of recreation camp and several weeks of swim lessons. For more information on these programs, please contact Jill A’Hearn at 610-759-3440.
About the Greater Valley YMCA
The Greater Valley YMCA is committed to changing lives across our community. At each of our six separate but united branches, we teach the values of living healthy lifestyles, strengthen the family unit and help youngsters and adults feel good about themselves, developing in them a sense of dignity and self-worth. We serve the entire community, from the young child just learning to swim to the active older adult seeking the social, recreational, and physical activities the Y offers. Community members are served regardless of age, race, sex, religious affiliation, or ability to pay. Membership fees are reasonable and several payment options are provided, as are sponsorships. For over 100 years, we have made tangible differences in the communities of Bethlehem, Catasauqua, Easton, Forks, Nazareth, those comprising the Slate Belt region and the Lehigh Valley as a whole. Founded as individual YMCAs as early as 1900, the following branches of the Greater Valley Y merged together under the Nazareth YMCA between 2010 and 2013: the Nazareth YMCA, the Suburban North Family YMCA, and the Family YMCA of Easton, Phillipsburg & Vicinity. The Slate Belt branch was chartered in 2010, construction began spring of 2013, and opening is anticipated this year. At the beginning of 2014, the YMCA Pre K Counts program was relocated, joining the early childhood education programs in the Forks YMCA Early Education Center. The Bethlehem YMCA association is currently in a management agreement and in the process of merging permanently by 2016. A name change for the corporate entity from the Nazareth YMCA to the Greater Valley YMCA was approved in 2013 by both Y USA and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Branches will maintain their individual names and identities. (www.greatervalleyymca.org)
About the YMCA
The YMCA is the nation’s leading nonprofit strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 YMCAs engage 21 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the YMCA has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. (ymca.net)