LEWISTON — One week after the YWCA of Central Maine’s money woes forced the 130-year-old agency to announce its closure, the doors remain open and the money is coming in.

More than $200,000 in new donations have been pledged and more is coming.

“We know the money is on its way,” said Lee Young, president of the YWCA’s Board of Directors.

Donations range from anonymous gifts in the thousands of dollars to a Saco schoolgirl who sent a handwritten note on a scrap of paper and six quarters.

And one member of the YWCA’s Board of Directors, Tonie Ramsey of Auburn, has taken on the challenge of raising $100,000 to force an additional $50,000 gift.

“I’ve been working like a son of a gun,” said Ramsey, who is 84. She’s been calling people from her memories of a 20-year career on staff at the YWCA and more decades as a member.

She has also been writing letters, often calling upon a decades-old memory of the Tripp Lake YWCA she ran for 10 years or of a prospective donor’s first strokes in the Y’s pool. So far, the response has been good, she said.

“I’m just amazed at how wonderful everyone is being,” Ramsey said.

On Monday, the YWCA announced a $50,000 gift by Lewiston businessman Del Gendron. As a challenge to the YWCA’s women, Gendron’s wife, Priscilla, pledged $50,000 more if women can raise $100,000.

“These are women of the same era,” Young said. “Twenty years ago, Priscilla was a swimmer at the YWCA. It’s heartwarming that she and Tonie are still working to help the community.”

Ramsey volunteered for the task of raising the $100,000, Young said. “She has the energy of a woman 25 years younger than her age.”

Several checks had already arrived at the YWCA with a special notation that they are meant to answer the Priscilla Gendron challenge, said YWCA Executive Director Pam Gallant.

Though there is no notation about whether a donor is a man or a woman, it would be easy to trace, Director Marcia Baxter said. Already, each gift is carefully logged with the name of the donor and how much was given.

Despite the early success, the YWCA has yet to kick off its formal fundraiser. Committees are being formed and strategies planned. The goal is $1 million, enough to pay off more than $700,000 in debt and to fund efficiency upgrades to its East Avenue center.

Director Marcia Baxter encouraged anyone who has used the YMCA and appreciated its services to make a donation, no matter how small.

“We need many people to respond at all levels,” she said.

dha[email protected]


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