Big milestone coincides with Y’s annual gala

Four decades of service to be celebrated


Each year, seasonal celebrations and galas have a special significance on Marco, but the Y’s upcoming Black & White Gala can lay claim to being extra special. That’s because Greater Marco Family YMCA’s major traditional fundraiser coincides with four decades of community service on (and indeed off) the island.

Apart from a wide variety of programs and activities for local adults and youth, the Y takes care of about 2,000 children in Early Learning (preschool), afterschool programs, summer camps and sports in East Naples and Everglades City.

Outreach programs are an integral part of the Y’s community services, such as after-school programs on and off the island.

“Many people don’t realize that the Y reaches that many children, as well as 10,000 people (on Marco, Goodland, East Naples, and Everglades City) in one way or another,” said Jayme Lowe, YMCA board member.

“It’s been a big year (for anniversaries). The city and the middle school turned 20. There’s a lot of history for the Y in 40 years, and we want to continue to provide for all programs and assistance,” Lowe said.

Much of that history is close to the heart of the Y’s CEO Cindy Love, who has been at the helm for the past 24 years.

“Our biggest accomplishments are the community partners we have engaged and our ability to serve all ages and income levels. We are truly the hub of South Collier County and proud to serve. Our members and families look to us for support and guidance through our causes, Youth Development, Healthy Living, and Social Development. We would not be able to the work we do without our generous donors and community partners, for this I am truly grateful.”

Co-chair (along with Linda Cassens) Sue Itayem is excited on a couple of levels, firstly the progress being made with an expansion that will enlarge the fitness center, along with large member experience area with a new lobby and will also provide some administrative office space.

Sue Itayem


“One can say it has been a pivotal as well an exciting year for the Y,” she said.

“I am truly honored to be part of this expansion as it will only have a positive impact by providing more programs services to meet the needs of the community.

“It's exciting to co-chair the gala, (it’s) a great way to engage our donors as we celebrate together, thank them for their generosity and showcase the outcome of their donations and continuous support,” Itayem said.

Individual gala tickets are $250, while partnership sponsors have great opportunities for helping as well as recognition.

Top partnership opportunities is the Presenting Partners at $25,000 - which includes a stage-front table for 10 people, print and digital media publicity, and two reservations for groups of 10 people to attend a special Patron Party earlier on Saturday, Jan. 20.

Other partnership/sponsor opportunities include platinum at $15,000; technology (to cover all presentation aspects) at $10,000; premier at $10,000; supporting at $5,000, gold at $2,500, and silver at $1,500. All receive recognition, publicity and invites to the Patron Party.

Full details are available from the website or by contacting Katherine Caskey, chief development officer at, or at 394-3144, ext.105.

More:Rarin’ to go: New staff members boost Y’s fitness instructor ranks

More:Meet the Marco YMCA's new Chief Development Officer

Venue for the Y’s Jan. 25 Black & White Gala is Marco’s JW Marriott.


If you go

What: The Marco Y Black & White Gala

When: 6 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 25

Where: JW Marriott

Cost: $250 per person, assorted block partnerships ranging from $1,500 through $25,000 also available

Beneficiaries: About 2,000 area children in early learning, afterschool, summer camps; and assorted services for the entire Marco, East Naples, and Everglades City communities.