AUGUSTA — When the Kennebec Valley YMCA and Cony High School needed to raise money for their new buildings several years ago, Lithgow Public Library held off its own plans to raise money for expansion and renovation.

The money needed to build a new $10 million YMCA and, in that same time period, a new Cony High School, was raised and both those buildings opened in 2006 within days of each other.

Meanwhile Lithgow Library remained, and still remains at least for a few more months, unrenovated and unexpanded.

Now the YMCA is paying back the favor.

The Friends of Lithgow Library has raised about $2.5 million in private contributions for the project, but needs another $500,000 to meet its fundraising commitment. That will be added to the $8 million city voters agreed in June to borrow for the project.

A new fundraising raffle, thought up by the YMCA, aims to help the library fundraising.


Harry Lanphear, president of the board of directors of the Kennebec Valley YMCA, said former president Kat Beaudoin suggested that as part of the local Y’s 100th annivesary celebration, it should raise money and awareness not just for the YMCA, but also the library.

Before the YMCA moved to Union Street, the two were neighbors on Winthrop Street for decades, separated by State Street.

“As you look back at the history of the community, Lithgow and the Y could have been both fundraising for a new building at the exact same time,” Lanphear said. “Instead, the library gracefully stepped aside, because our need was urgent.

“It was, really, the right thing to do for the community at the time. Now, Lithgow’s need is absolutely urgent. So the Y felt it was a great time for us to thank Lithgow for allowing us to do what we did years ago, and support them in a very visible way.”

Compared to the millions raised for both projects, the stakes of the raffle are relatively low, though, at $10,000, the payoff for the winning ticket holder is relatively high.

The raffle, which will be drawn Oct. 21, will sell a maximum of 300 tickets for $100 each. If all 300 tickets are sold, the winner of the raffle will take home $10,000, the Y will get $10,000 for its scholarship fund for young members who can’t afford the full membership cost and $10,000 will go to the Lithgow Library capital campaign.


Betsy Pohl, library director, said she was thrilled when she heard about the Y’s joint fundraising idea.

“Our fundraising consultant remarked she has never seen anything like it,” said Pohl. “It’s good for the community and it strengthens both our organizations if we work together.”

Pohl said the many infrastructure needs of the library, including a lack of space and accessibility for people with disabilities, have existed for about 20 years. A plan was formed as early as 2001 to raise money to renovate and expand the library.

Both the Cony and new YMCA projects, and the need to raise money for both, prompted library trustees to hold off.

“There were other needs in the community, and we were asked to step aside for the high school project, and the same with the Y,” Pohl said. “It was disappointing, at the time, for library supporters. But the Y was going ahead with their plans and it seemed, at the time, like the community could only support one campaign at a time.”

Wick Johnson, co-chairman of the library’s fundraising campaign, said the support from the YMCA is appreciated.


“Although our missions are different, our goals are very much the same,” Johnson said. “A rising tide floats all boats. The Augusta community has been extremely generous over the years. We may have the same donor base, but it’s a mistake to talk about it as competition.”

Pohl said the two organizations may have some overlap in who they receive donations from, but “I think people have come to realize both these things are critical to our community — body and mind, body and soul. We’re two great community organizations that do complementary things.”

Tickets for the lottery are available by contacting the YMCA.

Lanphear said up to 10 people can go in on a $100 ticket together, and split the $10,000 prize if they have the lone winning ticket.

The drawing will take place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 21 at the Governor Hill Mansion. Ticket holders may attend the free drawing, at which snacks will be served.

“It’s an opportunity to get people who support the Y and library in the same room to celebrate both organizations, and have a nice event to draw the winning ticket,” Lanphear said.


Johnson said if the fundraiser goes well he’d support working together with the Y on fundraisers again in the future.

Construction on the Lithgow expansion and renovation is expected to begin next spring.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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