March 26, 2010


As fundraising campaign kicks off ­—

YWCA has $2 million head start

Organization sets $2.8 million goal for two-story expansion

YWCABob Ellis/staff photographer
Cortland YWCA Executive Director Amy Simrell stands in the Osborn Room in front of a painting of Lois Osborn, who was the director from 1929 to 1969, during the announcement of a capital campaign to raise funds for an addition onto the rear of the YWCA building at 14 Clayton Ave.

Staff Reporter

The Cortland County YWCA’s fundraising campaign for an expansion project kicked off Thursday with a goal of $2.8 million — with $2 million raised already through a two-year “quiet phase.”
YWCA Executive Director Amy Simrell said the board of directors was surprised by the generosity of private donors, some of whom have used the YWCA’s swimming, fitness and educational facilities for generations.
The campaign, called More Than You Imagine, could even exceed the announced goal, Simrell said during a reception for about 40 people at the 14 Clayton Ave. building.
The YWCA plans a two-story expansion measuring 12,464 square feet, which will contain a multi-purpose room and gymnasium, basement storage space, a new cycling room and a renovated men’s locker room. A new wheelchair accessible entrance will be constructed from the back parking lot.
On the existing facility’s first floor, the pool, locker room, restrooms and kitchen will be renovated. A co-ed weight room will be added.
Lisa Court, the campaign’s co-chair with Anne Planck, said the quiet phase raised $2,052,416 with the help of six donors who gave gifts over $50,000.
The donors were Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D-Ithaca), who arranged $300,000 from the state Dormitory Authority; the J.M. McDonald Foundation with $600,000; the Cortland County Foundation with $60,000; Ann Hinchcliff with $150,000; and Lee Leyman and the Compagni family of Homer, whose gifts were not disclosed.
Simrell said Alliance Bank made a generous gift Wednesday, although she would not disclose the amount.
She said the New York State Energy Research Development Authority had arranged $93,000 to fund a solar energy project that would provide electricity to the addition.
Simrell said the last capital campaign in 1989 exceeded its goal of $750,000, raising $925,000.
The amount raised during the quiet phase of the current campaign surprised Jim Boyle, the retired SUNY Cortland development officer who has served as a consultant to the campaign.
“It’s so encouraging that even during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, a number of major donors stepped up and gave,” Boyle said. “I know many fundraisers who suspended campaigns because they just could not get the donors.”
The expansion project was originally projected to cost $3.7 million to $4 million when architectural plans were developed two years ago, but Simrell said that was based on a different construction economy.
She said if the project’s cost grows beyond the campaign’s $2.8 million goal, the board of directors will find a way to either adjust the scope or decide how to find additional funds. She was optimistic the campaign could raise more than projected.
Board President Sandy Attleson said this is the fourth capital campaign since the YWCA opened in Cortland in 1914. The Clayton Avenue building has been its home since 1919.
Simrell said demand for the warm-water pool has grown beyond its capacity. The number of men using the YWCA’s facilities, such as the pool and cycling room, has grown as well and there is not enough room for them to change clothes.
Kathy Compagni, chair of the advance gift committee, said three generations of her family have used the YWCA’s facilities. She said she taught swimming there as a SUNY Cortland student and then made friends there when she married her husband, Joseph, and returned to the area after college.


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