Sunday, February 10, 2008

YMCA reduced fees program spells relief for single mother

By Carol Bogart | Daily Republic

SUISUN CITY - It's not easy being a single mom. Just ask Margie Russell.

The 49-year-old mother of two said one of the biggest reasons she moved to Suisun City from Vallejo five years ago was the North Bay YMCA's summer day care program.

Her daughter, Timarie Mason, was 7 at the time. Her son, Timothy Mason, was 5. The children could go on weekly YMCA field trips and swim at the center, located at 586 E. Wigeon Way, as their mother went to work as a home care provider.

'Oh my god,' Russell said. 'I thought I was in paradise.'

A year later, Russell and her children became YMCA members and paid a reduced fee for a monthly membership. North Bay YMCA Executive Director Rodney Chin said membership and program fees can be reduced for income-eligible families through the Community Support Campaign.

Russell pays just $30 a month for her single parent membership, $38 less than the usual single parent rate. She pays her rent with a Section 8 voucher but no longer needs financial aid and food stamps because of the help she has received from area service clubs and others.

'It's just me and Timarie and Timothy -- just us three,' Russell said. 'We're the family. But we're thriving.'

Chin said generous donations from the community help fund the reduced fees program. He said the Suisun City Kiwanis, which will celebrate its 20-year anniversary Tuesday, contributed $1,000 in 2007. The club will do so again this year, Kiwanis President Mike Hudson said.

Hudson, a Suisun City councilman and founder of the YMCA's volunteer advisory board, said the reduced fees program 'allows everyone to really participate who might not have that opportunity.'

Suisun City Kiwanis has also sponsored 'Kids Day of Fishing' at Lake Solano the past two years. Club member Mike Segala, also a Suisun City councilman, took Russell's children and other youths to the lake two years ago. Each child received a T-shirt, hat, fishing pole and tackle box.

'You could tell they had fun,' Russell said. 'The kids got off the bus exhausted.'

Segala said the Kiwanis' latest project is contributing to the YMCA's Community Support Campaign to help families such as Russell's. Chin said the campaign has collected $28,000 in donations, and the goal is $33,000.

Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at

North Bay YMCA

For more information about the reduced fees program, call 421-8746 or go to

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