Through pledges and donations, the Brown County YMCA has reached the over-halfway mark of its $250,000 fundraising goal.

So far, people and organizations have pledged around $150,000 toward the capital campaign, YMCA Executive Director Kim Robinson said.

In addition, the YMCA raised about $22,000 net — about $40,000 gross — through the Hilly Half half-marathon at Brown County State Park on Nov. 12.

This is the first time the Brown County YMCA has had to organize a capital campaign of this magnitude since the initial fundraising efforts that paid for its building, Robinson said.

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The money is needed to replace major systems in the building that are beginning to fail after a decade-and-a-half of use. The system that heats, cools and dehumidifies the pool area has cost the YMCA around $60,000 in maintenance costs in recent years, Robinson said; right now, it’s not doing any of that, only providing ventilation.

About 500 participants registered for the Hilly Half, and 471 completed one of the three races — a 5K, a 10K and a half-marathon — either running or walking, Robinson said. This was the first year for the event.

Robinson said she was grateful for the participants, and also for the more than 80 volunteers who helped make it happen.

“It means a lot that they gave up their Saturday morning and afternoon to help the Y,” she said.

Every piece of feedback Robinson has received so far has been positive, she said.

“We hope to double our numbers next year,” she said.

Fourteen have already signed up for next year’s Hilly Half, she said.

Matching grants

In addition to regular fundraising efforts, the YMCA has had success with matching grants.

The first matching grant — $25,000 from the Brown County Community Foundation — already has been fully matched with pledges from the community, Robinson said.

Every dollar donated toward meeting the match earns a dollar from the match source, allowing a $50 donation to have $100 of impact.

Now, two new grants are on the table.

Smithville Fiber has set aside $30,000 for a matching grant, and Phil Albright — a private contributor from Philadelphia — has pledged to match up to $25,000 in donations.

Smithville is a frequent contributor to organizations in Brown County, said Brown County Community Foundation CEO Larry Pejeau. The communications company has also given money to the Brown County Playhouse and Brown County Art Guild recently, he said.

Albright’s connection to the community is Brown County YMCA board member Debbie Kelley. She met Albright while she was on a YMCA board in Philadelphia. In October, while visiting Philadelphia, she had dinner with three of the board members from her former YMCA.

After Kelley told them about the Brown County YMCA’s capital campaign, all three decided to make donations, she said.

“It’s hard for a Y in such a small town to be able to get the support that’s needed for large items like this, and they recognize that,” she said. “People who love the Y love all Ys.”

Since each YMCA does not receive funding from the larger organization, support from private donations is essential, Kelley said.

Matching grants seem to encourage people to give, and the response from the public has been encouraging, Robinson said.

“I feel really pleased and honored that we’ve had such a nice response,” she said.

How to help

If interested in contributing to the Brown County YMCA’s capital campaign, go to, or call 812-988-9622.

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Ben Kibbey is a Brown County transplant from the cornfields of central Ohio. He covers county government, business, outdoors, sports and general news.