YMCA Presents Awards at Annual Community Dinner

The YMCA of Rock River Valley hosted its annual community dinner event with more than 300 people in attendance. The event, which took place at Embassy Suites in Rockford on May 2, was presented by Illinois Bank & Trust and highlighted the importance of community and belonging to build a healthy spirit, mind and body. Josh Shipp was the featured speaker. Click here to check out photos from the event.

During his speech, Shipp shared stories of his traumatic childhood, being abandoned at birth, and thrown into many different foster homes where he was abused. Thanks to caring adults, Shipp was able to triumph over the hardship, and has dedicated his life to helping adults understand kids and kids understand themselves. Shipp is renowned for the documentary TV series on A&E that followed his groundbreaking work with youth and families. He was named to Inc. Magazine’s 30 under 30 list and completed his postgraduate studies at Harvard.

“Josh’s message about the power of one caring adult is inspiring and aligns perfectly with our work developing youth at the Y,” said Brent Pentenburg, CEO, YMCA of Rock River Valley. “As a community, we have a responsibility to our youth. When kids have access to a caring adult, they are more likely to be successful - graduate, set goals for the future, and become an example for more kids after them.” 

The YMCA highlighted its fundraising efforts at the dinner. Early childhood education is just one of the many programs supported through generous community donations. The Y has a goal to raise $1.3 million this year with help from annual campaign chair, Mike Broski. So far, the Y has raised $700,000.

“We are focused on developing youth in our community and ensuring they have a strong foundation for life-long learning,” said Michelle Gorham, Chief Advancement Officer, YMCA of Rock River Valley. “We never want finances to be a barrier to childcare and preschool programs. Donations allow us to serve all families, regardless of their ability to pay.”

The YMCA also presented three awards during the dinner. The winners are as follows:
  • YMCA Antonio Little Award and $1000 Scholarship presented by Field – Hassan Bates, Auburn High School
  • YMCA Teen Leadership Award and $1,000 Scholarship presented by Midwest Packaging & Container - Addysen Feng, Auburn High School
  • YMCA Community Leader Award presented by Sjostrom & Sons – Mike Broski 
  • YMCA Outstanding Business Impact Award presented by Trotter Manufacturing – Foster Care Alliance 

Funds raised at the YMCA Community Dinner support the programs and services of the Y -
opening the doors to all. If you’re interested in making a donation to the 2024 annual
fund, please visit www.rockriverymca.org/give or call the Mission Advancement office at