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Editor's note: This is part of an ongoing series of guest columns about the Southlake YMCA and its upcoming $35 million transformation to the Crown Point facility.

Cancer survivor Rachel Miller recalls how the Southlake YMCA pitched in during one of the toughest times of her life. At 36, the mother of two young boys was about to begin marathon training through the Y-Run program when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“It was devastating. Doctors weren’t sure about my prognosis,” Miller said.

As she underwent treatment, the medical bills started mounting. Miller and husband Jeffery had to face some tough financial decisions.

The boys loved their swim lessons in the Y pool, but the family’s membership had become unaffordable. Miller walked into the Y intending to cancel, but Executive Director Chris Mallers reached out with a scholarship, allowing the Millers to maintain their membership and keep the boys in swim lessons.

“We wanted to keep some normalcy in the boys’ lives,” Miller said about those difficult months. “They were scared and struggling. Staying with the Y really made a difference for us.”

Over the years, thousands of families and individuals have received the Y’s income-based scholarships. Volunteers, donors and staff firmly believe the Y is for all and that no one should be turned away because of inability to pay. Thanks to donations, last year the Southlake Y provided $83,000 in assistance for 2,275 members.

Qualifying adults and families can get up to a 50 percent reduction in monthly membership fees. Assistance also is available to help with fees for youth sports, swim lessons and day camp.

Senior citizens value the Y as an affordable resource for health and happiness.

“Many seniors are living on fixed incomes and can be socially isolated,” explained Melanie Cooper, member engagement coordinator. “They really depend on the Y and on Y scholarships.”

Scholarships help families cope with unexpected circumstances, such as grandparents who find themselves raising grandchildren. Cooper says the Y is a place for these families to relieve stress. Summer camps give kids a stable environment with positive people and constructive activities.

Y scholarships make lasting impressions on recipients.

Cooper recalls a family that received scholarships when the father was unemployed. Now the family is back on its feet and has resumed paying the full rate. Thankful for the support, they recently “gave back” by donating to the campaign for the new Southlake Y.

Rachel Miller, now healthy enough to resume full-time employment, is eagerly anticipating the new facility.

“We know first-hand how the Y adds to our quality of life,” Miller said. “With the new Y, even more people can be helped.”

Inspired by the $21 million lead gift from the Dean and Barbara White family, the Y has been raising funds to complete the $35 million project. There is still $400,000 to be raised.

For information on Y scholarships, call 219-663-5810.

For information on the fundraising campaign, call Pat Huber at 219-757-3739.

For information on the YMCA go to www.crymca.org/southlakeycampaign.

Laurie Halaska is the CEO of the Crossroads YMCA Association. The opinions are the writer's.