The New Canaan YMCA announced last week that New Canaan residents and board members Kevin Cowser, Rick Routhier and Kristin Selvala will serve as co-chairmen of the Y's 2012 Annual Support Campaign. This year's goal is $345,000, and the co-chairmen are joined by a 32-member volunteer campaign committee.

This year's campaign theme is "Everybody Belongs Here," and all proceeds directly support the Y's charitable mission of community service by funding membership and program scholarships, as well as programs for individuals with special needs.

"This past year, the New Canaan Y provided more than $350,000 in direct assistance to families in need (a 44 percent increase from the previous year) through our financial assistance and special-needs programs," Selvala said.

"The Y's annual campaign is the cornerstone of our charitable work in the community," Cowser said.

The campaign also helps the Y provide subsidies for many of its programs -- such as aquatics and teen programs, as well as recreational leagues, child care and middle school nights -- keeping them affordable for all. It also provides seed funding for new programs and supports the Y's World Service project in Kenya.

Cowser joined the Y board in 2010 and has been a member of the Y since the early 1990s. He has been active in the Y-Guide and Princess program. He is also captain of the New Canaan Volunteer Ambulance Corps and a coach with the New Canaan Baseball/Softball League.

"I am truly dedicated to our New Canaan YMCA, as it emphasizes a healthy spirit, mind and body by promoting programs that have a positive impact on our members as well as our community," Cowser said. "We are about the core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility, and are so much more than just a pool, gym or wellness center. The New Canaan YMCA promotes youth development, healthy living and social responsibility."

Routhier joined the Y board in 2011. He has been a Y member since his family moved to New Canaan in 1971. His wife and four children have all been active users of Y programs over the years. As parents of a special-needs child, Routhier and his wife are particularly grateful for the support the Y offers.

"A vibrant and active YMCA with a wide range of high-quality programs is so important to New Canaan. It is core to making the community a special place to live," Routhier said.

Selvala has been a member of the Y's board of directors since 2004 and has been a Y member since moving to New Canaan. She served as chairman of the 2005 gala, which celebrated the Y's 50th anniversary. Over the years, Selvala and her family have participated in a variety of Y programs, including basketball, Y-Guides and Princesses, Bouncing Bears and wellness. Selvala's husband, Rick, also co-chairs the Y's annual charity golf outing.

"The New Canaan Y is an important member of the New Canaan community. No other organization in town serves toddlers, teens, adults and seniors in such a multi-faceted way," Selvala said. "In addition to programming, the Y has made a significant commitment to the town by adding sidewalks at the front of the property, making capital improvements to the Kiwanis park area, and providing showers for those without power during the recent extended power outages. I am pleased to support such a dynamic and caring organization."

Founded in 1954 by community volunteers, the New Canaan YMCA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to enrich all people in spirit, mind and body. The YMCA also strives to partner with a variety of outside organizations to further its role as a community service provider.

The Y's campaign officially kicks off this month. Call 203-966-4528, ext. 142, or visit www.newcanaanymca.org/giving.

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