Letter to the editor.
This is a letter to the editor from the Greater Ithaca Activities Center Board of Directors. To submit opinion letters, please review our letters policy here and submit them to Managing Editor Thomas Giery Pudney at tgpudney@ithacavoice.com.

It looks like a typical summer day at the Alex Haley Pool, with kids jumping in, families lounging, and littles ones splashing in Max’s wading pool. However, the fact that this summer scene unfolds at all is the product of tremendous hard work and an outpouring of community support. The Greater Ithaca Activities Center, Inc. Board of Directors wants to recognize and appreciate everyone who made GIAC Summer 2020 happen!

Executive Director Leslyn McBean-Clairborne is a tireless and passionate advocate for GIAC, who, along with Deputy Directors Travis Brooks and Kerry Phillips, has marshaled the funds, staffing, and supplies necessary to open programming in the midst of a pandemic. Pool Coordinator Mike Thomas returned from furlough and pool hero Bill “Max” Maxwell from retirement to prepare and open the pool in under two weeks, a process of planning and implementation that ordinarily takes months. We also love to see the cohort of summer staff and lifeguards who answered the call to open the pool. The quick shift to summer programming was made possible by private financing at a time when the majority of GIAC’s staffers are furloughed due to City budget cuts.

It started with a $45,000 check from Homegrown Skateshop in early June to help GIAC re-open programs closed by the budget cuts. This was followed by a public nudge from Jean McPheeters of the Legacy Foundation, and a supportive tweet from Mayor Svante Myrick and additional publicity, which led to an incredible cascade of financial donations, large and small as well as in-kind donations. Critically, Purity Ice Cream donated $80,000 and the Legacy Foundation and the Park Foundation stepped up with sizable grants. The United Way joined as the fundraising partner making it possible for individuals to make donations in any amount. As a result, GIAC has re-opened not just the pool, but pop-up summer programs to serve youth and teens, and is planning for the fall afterschool program.

We at GIAC understand that the City has many challenging budgetary decisions to make in the upcoming months and years. We also believe strongly that GIAC programming IS essential for this community to thrive. At the heart of GIAC’s mission is so much more than just a public pool to cool off and relax, but a safe space to connect, respect, and sustain one another. The practice of social justice is embedded in all of GIAC’s programs and is needed now more keenly than ever.

A heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to date, and with the community’s continued love, we will keep the Greater Ithaca Activities Center “A Place to Be Me.” For more information on how to support GIAC—through volunteering, in-kind donations, or financial contributions—look for the giacgrows.com pledge form, visit the United Way of Tompkins County website, or contact the GIAC, Inc. Board of Directors at annieperry@twcny.rr.com or slittle@icsd.k12.ny.us. You can also give a call to GIAC at 607-272-3622.

GIAC, Inc. Board of Directors