Children burned off energy in bounce houses, zoomed down slides and rode Western-style on horses at the sixth annual YMCA Fall Festival on Saturday. Families strolled through the vendor market, perusing the handmade jewelry, ceramics and holiday gifts. Others sampled funnel cakes and homemade Southern treats.
Inside the YMCA, attendees toured the facilities and learned about the organization’s programs designed to help individuals and families reach their health goals and develop new ones — especially as the new year draws near.
Members of the Hinesville Police Department were on hand to fingerprint children and offer advice on safety. On stage, the Youth ChalleNGe Academy students performed a stepping drill to entertain the crowd.
“It was a beautiful day. It was wonderful. Everyone had a pleasant time,” YMCA Director David Holcomb said, adding that the event helps to forge a community bond.
“Being part of a community … the YMCA has a history of trying to bring together the community through local vendors and not-for-profits and trying to bring about a sense of social responsibility, working together for healthy living or for youth development and all of those things that make the fiber underneath a community be strong,” he said.
Holcomb added that the festival’s success can be attributed to the volunteers who helped organize and run the event.
“Our volunteer board members, and Laura Troutman was the leader of our volunteers for this event, and all of our staff … we had over 50 volunteers helping in the background all throughout the day, moving tents and equipment and just helping people out,” the director said.
Holcomb said the Y recognizes the importance of volunteers and their ability to aide local organizations. He said the YMCA recently created a volunteer coordinator position and hired Deborah Mann to fill it.
“Everybody says they want to volunteer, but how do you make volunteering effective?” he said. “Do you have job descriptions? Do you have the ability to actually give people something meaningful to do? It’s been a real pleasure to develop that, and Deborah Mann has taken on that role and has done a wonderful job in just a month. I am so impressed with the Youth ChalleNGe team that came out and with Deborah Mann and her ability to harness all the volunteers.”
Proceeds from the fall fest will benefit the YMCA’s Priceless Gift campaign, which helps the Y provide program support and financial assistance to individuals and families in the community who are in need.
“The Y has a policy that we don’t turn people away due to inability to pay,” Holcomb said. “And I think the YMCA, along with many other good not-for-profit organizations, like our local hospital and our city recreation department … we all work together to build that positive fabric that supports and creates a community that makes people feel special.”