The Goldsboro Family YMCA has started an endowment fund to honor its departing chief executive officer.

Officials announced the John Richards "Access to the Y" endowment fund, a portion of which will be used for financial assistance to the Y.

Richards has served the YMCA for 32 years, and been CEO since 1997.

He has chosen to continue his service to the community by designating that the endowment funds be used to provide access to the Y for those not otherwise able to afford a Y membership or its programs.

"I can honestly say (that) over the past 32 years, I have seen miracles happen within the walls of the YMCA," Richards said. "The purpose of the fund is to continue to provide access to the YMCA for everyone, so they can improve the quality of their lives and youth can discover their God-given potential."

Gifts to the fund will provide a stable, enduring source of funding, as endowment funds are invested and held in perpetuity, officials said.

"John has touched many lives during his career and we feel that the endowment fund is a great way to honor him," said Vanessa Spiron, senior director of development at the Y. "It is only fitting that he requested that gifts go toward a cause that allows the Y to be accessible to everyone in our community."

Anyone interested in honoring Richards and helping support his mission of making Y services accessible to everyone can donate to the fund, at the front desk of the Y or by visiting www.goldsboroymca.org and clicking "donate today" and choosing the John Richards Endowment Fund. All contributions are tax deductible.