Keeping Their Promises

In 1951, the Porter County YMCA facility was built on Byron Smith’s property, and enlarged with a subsequent land gift from Thelma and Max Dickey, on the corner of Washington and Chicago Streets in Valparaiso.

For 58 years, that Y strengthened the community by giving all people opportunities to learn, thrive and grow. Eventually, the needs of the community exceeded the capacity of the building. This led to the construction of an 82,000-square-foot facility with natural light, high ceilings, and green technology to save energy and promote a healthier environment.


This new facility opened on May 4, 2009, at Cumberland Crossing on the north side of Valparaiso to better serve the needs of the community. It was an instant hit and membership grew rapidly over the subsequent years.

Part of the building costs for the new facility were financed through local lenders. While the debt was manageable, the Y’s staff and volunteer leaders knew that they could better ensure the future of the YMCA and its ability to serve the community by reducing that debt and building the endowment fund.

“For every million dollars of debt reduction, the YMCA would have $60,000 available that would have had to go toward interest payments. That’s $60,000 that instead could be invested back in the community through programs, scholarships and more,” explained Bob Wanek, Valparaiso Family YMCA CEO.

In 2010, the Valparaiso YMCA hired Donor By Design to assist in a multi-faceted debt reduction, capital and endowment campaign. Three years later, the board and staff are celebrating securing more than $2.3 million in gifts and pledges to the “Promises Kept Campaign.”

“I felt like we had the entire resources of the Donor by Design team on our side…they were creative, energetic, motivational, and developed effective strategic moves throughout the campaign that kept us positive and on task,” explained Bob.

In addition to providing campaign counsel, Donor By Design worked with the YMCA to develop a partnership with Methodist Hospitals. That partnership includes a three-phase plan to implement a comprehensive community wellness initiative.

Congratulations to the volunteers and staff of the Valparaiso Family YMCA on a successful campaign!