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How to ‘Picture Yourself at the New Family Y’

The Westport Weston Family Y has launched a new fundraising effort that will give members and supporters throughout the community a creative way to help fund the construction of the new facility to be built on the Y’s 32-acre Mahackeno campus just north of downtown Westport. Called “Picture Yourself at the New Family Y,” the innovative project will involve the creation of a large wall mural at the new facility to be composed of thousands of individual photographs of Y members and supporters.

For a tax-deductible contribution of $100 per photo to the Y’s “Building What Matters” capital campaign, donors will be able to include a favorite photo or photos in a mosaic of “The Westport-Weston YMCA,” a watercolor by artist Kassie Foss of the Family Y’s historic Bedford Building, home of the Family Y since 1923.

The interactive online project may be found at, where contributors will also be able to locate their photos, as well as search for those of friends and neighbors.

“We wanted a way to invite Y supporters from near and far and of all means to join us in our campaign to build a wonderful new home for the Y, and we think this is a creative and cutting-edge project that’s just right for our community,” said Paul Bernetsky, Chief Development Officer for the Family Y.

“Think of our picture mosaic as a digital version of the traditional ‘buy a brick’ fundraiser,” adds Bernetsky. “A favorite family snapshot or photo that honors a loved one takes the place of an inscribed brick.”

When completed, the picture mosaic of Foss’ watercolor will be permanently displayed as a 6 ft. by 4 ft. wall mural in the main lobby of the new Family Y. (Click here to see new renderings of the Y, both inside and outside.)

The Family Y’s mosaic fundraiser utilizes technology developed by Picture Mosaic LLC of Blue Bell, Pa. Picture Mosaic has created numerous projects for both corporations and non-profit organizations, including the Mario Lemieux Foundation, ESPN and Habitat for Humanity.

The watercolor upon which it is based was painted by Kassie Foss, a former Westporter now living in Chatham, Mass. Foss and her business partner, Totney Benson of Onion Hill Designs, have graciously allowed for the artwork to be the inspiration for other Y supporters to “Picture Yourself at the New Family Y.”

“We’re delighted to be able to support the Y with such a creative project,” said Benson. “We think it will resonate with many others who not only love the Y but also cherish our community’s artistic heritage.”

As photos are uploaded to, sophisticated algorithms regarding color and shape will place them within the mosaic, creating a “pixillated” version of the original artwork, made up of thousands of individual photos.

“Together, these photos will give us a wonderful way to both honor our past and to ensure our future as a center of community life that benefits all,” said Rosemary Halstead, a past president of the Y’s volunteer Board of Directors and current chair of the Building What Matters capital campaign. “We invite all supporters to join us, and to share this opportunity with their friends and neighbors through social media.”

The Westport Weston Family Y is proceeding with plans to begin construction of a new Family Y on its Mahackeno campus and will soon announce the date of a groundbreaking ceremony.

The first stage will be a 54,000 sq. ft. facility that will include a 10-lane lap pool and warm-water family/teaching pool; expansive Health & Wellness Center; Gymnasium for multiple sports and activities; three large group-fitness studios; a Child Watch/Kids’ Adventure Gym area; and other amenities of a full-service, family-oriented Y facility. The new Y is expected to open in November, 2014.

Y campaign leaders have raised more than 90 percent of the amount needed to fund construction, through the sale of the downtown facility, donations and Y reserves, as well as a prudent amount of borrowing. A funding gap of $4 million remains. For more information about how to support the Y’s building campaign, please contact CEO Rob Reeves at or 203-226-8981, ext. 131.

A rendering of what the finished mosaic will look like when complete: