Poker tournament goes all in to raise money in support of YMCA’s youth programs

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While the Westchester Family YMCA is now a pillar of the local community, it would not be here without the work of Alan Cassman. He was a strong supporter of the Y even before there was a building on Sepulveda, and he spent much of his time working to make the dream of having a Y in Westchester a reality.

“I remember my late husband Hugo talking about the meetings he attended in the local barber shop discussing how to add a new Y in our community and the countless programs that would serve our families and children,” said Marty Francis, a long-time supporter and member of the Y’s board of managers. “All of those discussions were with Alan and started in 1952.”

Due to the hard work of Cassman and other community leaders, the Westchester Family YMCA opened in 1959 after years of planning.

“I remember watching the first bricks being laid for the beginning of the new community Y,” said Mary Ellen Cassman, Alan’s wife and a Y board of managers member. “The two of us would go to the corner of 80th and Sepulveda to check on the progress and to see when we would be able to participate in all the Y had to offer.”

Today, almost 60 years later, the Westchester Family YMCA’s service area spans over more than 10 cities throughout Los Angeles County, and locally serves the communities of Westchester, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista, Inglewood, El Segundo, Hawthorne and Marina del Rey. It shares the same mission, values and causes as it did in 1959 and is guided by the same four core values: caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.

According to Development Director Liz Odabashian, the YMCA operates by creating lasting personal and social change through working together.

“At the Y, strengthening community is our cause,” said Odabashian.“Everyday, we work side-by-side with our neighbors to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.”

Although Cassman passed away in 2013, he is still remembered as embodying the Y’s principles in all that he did and believed. Not content on merely helping found the Westchester Family YMCA, he continued to support the branch for more than five decades, and his wife, Mary Ellen, continues their family’s support to this day.

Since Cassman loved games, and participated in the first Westchester YMCA Poker Tournament in 2013– even making it to the final table–the Y has dedicated its annual “All in for the Kids” Poker Tournament in his honor.

This year marks the third annual event, which will be held in the Annex Building at the Westchester YMCA on Friday, March 6 at 6 p.m. with gaming beginning at 7 p.m.

“Alan did so much for the Y, it is an honor to be able to dedicate this year’s event to him,” said Spencer Kelly, event chair and member of the board of managers. “The room will be full of people who support the Y and are helping continue the legacy of community and healthy living.”

For more info or to RSVP, please call Odabashian at (310) 662-1743 or email her at lizodabashian@ymcala.org. The entry fee for players is $100, while a spectator ticket is $35.

The entry fees and tickets include refreshments donated by local restaurants Melody Bar and Grill, Beach Pizza, Tompkins Bar and Grill, Truxton’s American Bistro and the Westchester Bakery. Prizes include round-trip airfare, amusement park tickets and beautiful local getaways!

This year’s sponsors are: Atlas Settlement Group, Regatta Capitol, Chevron, KCC and Mary Ellen Cassman.

Posted March 2015.