AUGUSTA — Alex Fournier approached the podium with the certainty of practiced speaker.

Watching him were nearly 100 people gathered at the Senator Inn & Spa to celebrate the generosity of those whose charitable gifts to the Kennebec Valley YMCA allow the community organization to offer scholarships and programs for those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to join. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, delivered the keynote address at the Friday event.

“I’m going into the sixth grade and I am 11 years old,” he said.

Last summer, he attended Camp KV, the YMCA’s summer camp, where he found the Literacy Cabin.

“I used to hate to read. Now I love it. I got through the Harry Potter series,” he said.

He’d recommend it to anybody and he can’t wait to attend Camp KV again this summer.

With that, he was done.

But Fournier, who was accompanied by his mother, Michelle, was not the only one to say what the Kennebec Valley Y means to him.

Nichole Rogers, Leslie Jones and Carea Michaud-Boynton gave their own testimonials as part of the donor appreciation event. The Y and its events has opened doors for them and their families to make new friends, be active and take part in events they would otherwise not have known about, they said.

“A lot of people think the membership dues help with the charitable mission,” Harry Lanphear, president of the Kennebec Valley YMCA’s board, said. “They don’t. We have donors that give us tens of thousands of dollars and donors who give us a single dollar. It’s all important.”

The Kennebec Valley YMCA celebrated 100 years of serving the area in 2014.

It was chartered June 13, 1914. From then until 2006, its home was a stately colonnaded building that stood at the corner of Winthrop and State streets. Over the years, thousands of children learned to swim and play basketball there, but leaders also sought to instill the YMCA’s core principles, reflected in its triangle symbol, of mind, body and spirit.

Away from the podium, Alex Fournier said he doesn’t know why he didn’t like to read before last summer. It was just something he didn’t get a lot out of.

But the Literacy Cabin offered him the chance to read because he chose to, not because he had to.

Now he’s reading the third installment of Gordon Korman’s “Mastermind” series, which was just published.

Reading more has had one tangible result that delights the mother of this Lincoln Elementary School student: “My grades have gone up at school.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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