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For the week of December 17 - 23, 2003


Group pledges
$1 million matching
gift to YMCA

Chairwoman says impact
could be ‘phenomenal’

Express Staff Writer

A Texas-based nonprofit organization has issued a substantial pledge to the Wood River Community YMCA, the $16 million public recreational facility proposed for construction in Ketchum.

Founder of the Works of Grace Foundation, Theresa Castellano-Wood, left, and Benjamin Wood, president of the foundation, left-center, stand at the proposed site of a new YMCA in Ketchum after they offered a conditional $1 million pledge for the project. Standing on the right side of the sign are Mike Wolter, Wood River Community YMCA campaign director, and Cynthia Murphy, chairwoman of the YMCA board. Photo by Tim Brown

The Works of Grace Foundation, an organization that promotes family and children’s programs in Idaho and Texas, pledged last week to give a $1 million matching gift to the YMCA if the Ketchum-based organization can raise $1 million in new donations by Feb. 1, 2004.

Cynthia Murphy, chairwoman of the Wood River Community YMCA board of directors, said she hopes the pledge encourages other potential benefactors to consider supporting the project.

"The impact of this additional $1 million gift by the Works of Grace Foundation to our community would be phenomenal," Murphy said. "It would enable us to bring to fruition a center for recreation, education, fitness and culture where people of all ages and interests can find programs that are inclusive, engaging, challenging and fun."

Mike Wolter, campaign director for the Wood River Community YMCA, said the organization has raised and saved $1.5 million to put toward the estimated $16 million cost of the proposed facility—which was formerly called the Bill Janss Community Center.

The Janss Center earlier this year entered into a partnership with the YMCA. However, a new plan for the facility remains very similar to those discussed in previous years for the Janss Center.

The proposed 95,000-square-foot YMCA—which would be located on the city of Ketchum’s Park-and-Ride Lot north of downtown—would include an ice rink that converts to an events center, two swimming pools, a fitness center and a climbing wall.

The city of Ketchum has pledged a separate matching grant of $3 million for the project that would be delivered once the project managers have raised the first $3 million.

The funds pledged by Ketchum are slated to come from city local-option tax revenues, without the imposition of any new taxes. The city’s pledge would ultimately be subject to voter approval.

Wolter said the $1 million matching gift pledge from the Works of Grace Foundation could translate into a much larger amount of funding for the YMCA project. He said donations received before the February deadline for the matching grant—with the matching grant itself—could put the YMCA’s reserves over the $3 million mark and qualify the organization for the additional $3 million pledged by the city of Ketchum.

Last Friday, Wolter noted: "Since the Wood River Community YMCA has already raised $1.5 million to date, if it can meet the goal proposed by the Works of Grace Foundation and the city of Ketchum, its total awarded funds could equal $6.5 million."

The estimated $16 million cost of the new YMCA includes approximately $12 million in so-called "hard costs" to pay for construction of the facility and $4 million in "soft costs," which include design work, engineering, fees, contingency costs and a $1 million operating reserve.

Wolter said Monday that the organization plans to raise all of the funds prior to commencing the project. "Our goal is to raise the entire sum and build the entire project," he said. "We don’t want to have to finance it."

Theresa Castellano-Wood, founder of the Works of Grace Foundation, said she strongly believes the Wood River Community YMCA project is deserving of public support. "We are excited about supporting an organization that truly represents our mission of doing ‘works of grace.’"

The foundation has previously supported several other Blaine County organizations, including Sun Valley Center for the Arts, Sun Valley Writers’ Conference, Company of Fools and Sawtooth Botanical Garden.



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