YMCA offers 'Membership For All'

A great fit for every budget

'Tis the season of merriment and stress. Gatherings with friends and family are cherished, but the weeks can also exhaust your time and drain your wallet. The East Area Family YMCA caters to people who want to keep up emotionally, physically -- and financially. Most gyms don't have the capability to work with varying incomes when dealing with membership fees, but the Y can and does. It offers a program to prove it, regardless the season, because its fundamental mission is to build strong kids, families and communities. Routine exercise can help you lead that well-balanced lifestyle you crave.

Membership For All is a scholarship program available to those who are unable to pay the standard YMCA monthly fees. It's an income-based membership for families with a household income of less than $60,000 and for individuals who earn less than $35,000 annually.

"Membership For All is designed to fit everyone's financial situation based on a sliding scale format," said Judy Salamone, membership director. "Anyone can apply as long as they fall under the income guidelines [and] are approved based on the financial information provided to us."

Required paperwork includes a copy of the applicant's most recent tax return, social security or benefits distribution check. When approved, members can have their fee deducted from their checking or credit card account monthly for up to a year. At the end of the year, they must reapply and provide their most updated information. The other option is to pay the membership fee in full for six months. After the six months is complete, they reapply, again, with their most updated information.

A past scholarship program called Y-Cares would have potential members waiting approval for weeks.

"With Membership For All (which is now in its third year), members can join on the spot and won't have to wait to see if they have been approved," Salamone said. "It's been very successful, especially during these difficult economic times."

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