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October 2, 2017

WGW makes lead gift for I Can Swim! in Memory of Lexi Fratz-Orr

College seeks additional donors to fund water safety program

The WGW Community Youth Cup, already a financial supporter of Garrett College’s I Can Swim! program, has stepped up to be a lead donor. Their gift was made in ‘Memory of Lexi Fratz-Orr.’ Now WGW’s leadership is challenging other organizations to do the same.

"Our mission is the support of children in Garrett County and everything we do in our fundraising goes back to help kids from birth until they graduate from high school," said WGW Trustee Brian Boal, whose organization – which was founded by Bill Weissgerber, Jr. and directly benefits the Garrett County charities of Landon’s Library, the Andrew Woods Memorial Scholarship Fund and Samantha Funding the Art’s – recently committed to a $5,000 lead gift, in ‘Memory of Lexi Fratz-Orr’, on top of an earlier $1,500 donation to the program. "The I Can Swim! program fits exactly into the WGW mission to support the youth of Garrett County. Water safety is one of the missions closest to our hearts."

Dr. Richard Midcap, Garrett College’s president, said the WGW gift will be used to jumpstart the fundraising campaign.

"It is my hope that WGW’s generosity will be matched by other organizations that understand the value the I Can Swim! program brings to our community," said Midcap.

I Can Swim! – in its sixth year of providing basic swimming and water safety instruction to Garrett County kindergarteners – was originally funded by a $50,000 Garrett County Commissioners donation. While other donations have augmented that initial funding, principally through the Joan and Bill Crawford I Can Swim! Fund, funding was exhausted during the recently concluded fiscal year.

"The Garrett College Foundation used more than $3,400 from their reserve funds to address last year’s deficit," said Midcap, noting the Foundation covered almost $24,000 in actual costs while the college provided more than $17,000 in in-kind services during FY17. "While I greatly appreciate the Foundation’s support, we simply can’t operate the program on a deficit basis over the long term."

Boal said the I Can Swim! program is particularly important given Garrett County’s geography.

"With all of the farm ponds and lakes in Garrett County, this program provides a great opportunity to provide water safety instruction," said Boal. "If we can prevent one drowning, it’s more than worth it."

Midcap said the college will continue to fund the in-kind costs of the program. The college has also guaranteed continuation of the I Can Swim! program through the 2017-18 school year by agreeing to cover any deficit arising during the current fiscal year, but will need to identify other lead donors like WGW in order to sustain the program well into the future.

"That’s why WGW’s generous donation is so important," said Midcap. "Not only does it provide us with our first lead gift in this fundraising campaign; it also serves as an example we hope other organizations will follow. The long-term viability of this program will depend on our ability to raise the funds to operate it."

In addition to seeking lead donors, the Garrett College Foundation is partnering with the Garrett County Public Schools Foundation in a fundraising initiative for the program.

"We have a couple of ICS initiatives in which our two foundations are partnering," said Cherie Krug, executive director of the Garrett College Foundation. "We sincerely appreciate the school system’s willingness to assist us in funding this program that provides such a critical service to our community."

Barbara Baker, Garrett County Public Schools superintendent, said the partnership between the two foundations will greatly benefit the county’s students.

"This program allows our youngest students to experience something they might not otherwise have an opportunity to experience. Teachers, parents, and children have embraced the program, and it would not be possible without the generous donation of the WGW Foundation," said Superintendent Baker.

Entering its sixth year, the WGW Community Youth Cup has provided more than $350,000 in funding to youth charities and organizations. With regard to the I Can Swim! program, Boal said he would like to "take this a little further."

"Working through Landon’s Library, we would like to find a good water safety book that we can use to supplement the instruction that takes place in the program," explained Boal. "We want them to not only learn how to swim but also to walk off with a book."

"This is yet another example of Landon’s Library’s commitment to the students of Garrett County," Superintendent Baker said of the possibility that students might also receive a book. "Providing each child with a book will make an excellent program even more special!"

For more information on the I Can Swim! program and how to support it, individuals may contact the Garrett College Foundation Office (301-387-3131).

WGW Provides Gift for I Can Swim! Program

The WGW Community Youth Cup, already a financial supporter of Garrett College’s I Can Swim! program, has stepped up to be a lead donor. Their gift was made in ‘Memory of Lexi Fratz-Orr.’ Entering its sixth year, the WGW Community Youth Cup has provided more than $350,000 in funding to youth charities and organizations.

Pictured from left to right are: Cherie Krug, Executive Director, Garrett College Foundation; Charlie McClosky, WGW board member trustee representing Samantha Funding the Arts; Richard Midcap, President, Garrett College; Brian Boal, WGW board member trustee representing Landon’s Library, and Bill Weissgerber, Jr, founder, WGW Foundation.

Not present for the photo were Tom Woods, WGW board member trustee and Debbie Woods, representing the Andrew Woods Memorial Scholarship Fund; Crystal Roberson-Boal, representing Landon’s Library, and June McClosky, representing Samantha Funding the Arts.