Foundation will support local YMCA

Published 8:19 am Friday, June 19, 2009

FRANKLIN—The James L. Camp Jr. YMCA will continue to benefit from the generous donations of the community in the form of a new foundation named after Robert Camp Ray, a longtime supporter of the local YMCA and champion of its charter mission.

According to Elliott Whitfield, a member of the Camp YMCA’s Board of Directors, the establishment of the Robert Camp Ray YMCA Foundation will help ensure that the funds from original donors will be used for their intended purpose.

“We took the YMCA’s endowment fund and capital reserve fund and spun it off into a separate foundation,” Whitfield said. “Its sole purpose is to benefit this YMCA, as long as this YMCA exists.”

The Camp YMCA will merge with the YMCA of South Hampton Roads on July 1, becoming the regional group’s 13th family center.

“We felt like the foundation was needed to honor the desires (of donors) from years past, and we wanted the donations controlled totally locally,” Whitfield said.

The board also wanted to honor Ray, who is now in his 90s and lives in Florida, for his dedication to the local YMCA.

“He was very, very instrumental in getting the YMCA started,” Whitfield said. “He was our first board president, and was president for 13 years. And he has been an avid supporter of our YMCA for the entire life (of the organization), which has been over 50 years.”

Whitfield said the Camp YMCA was charted in December 1955 and programs started shortly thereafter in June 1956. The YMCA’s current facility on Crescent Drive was constructed in 1970 and has gone through several additions.

According to information from the Camp YMCA, Ray was one of the leaders in the campaign to raise funds to build the original YMCA building in 1968, raising a significant amount of the money himself. Eight years later, he helped form and fund the W. Martin Pearson YMCA Endowment Fund, precursor to the new Ray Foundation.

Whitfield said the capital reserve fund was established after more money was raised than was ultimately spent, adding that much of those donations came from the Camp family and the Camp Family Foundations.

“Since we raised more than we needed and didn’t need the funds, we had actually given them the opportunity to not make their pledge,” Whitfield said. “But they said this was a good idea, to use it for future capital needs, and we got their permission to set up the capital reserve fund and use the funds in that manner.”

According to Whitfield, the endowment and capital reserve fund combined total more than $1.2 million.

The Ray Foundation’s board will consist of five voting members and two non-voting representatives. The voting members are Whitfield, Brian Hedgepeth, Terry Godwin, Nancy Brewbaker and Lynn Powell. YMCA of South Hampton Roads Chief Executive Officer and President Chuck Harris and Jane Riddick-Fries, a member of the board of directors for the Camp YMCA, are the two representatives.

On May 4, Whitfield, Hedgepeth and Tom Pearson traveled to Tampa, Fla., to visit Ray at his home and to discuss the foundation, the merger and to present him with a resolution honoring him for his longtime commitment to the Camp YMCA.

“He was thrilled,” Whitfield said, adding that Ray carried around his plaque and showed it off for others at his retirement home to see. “He’s been one heck of a supporter of the YMCA.”