Why I Picture Myself at the Family Y — And How You Can, Too

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A mockup of the mosaic being created of Kassie Foss' watercolor of the Bedford Building.

Earlier this year, the Family Y launched a new fundraising effort that gives members and supporters throughout the community a creative way to help fund the construction of the new Y facility now being built on our 32-acre Mahackeno campus just north of downtown Westport.

Called Picture Yourself at the New Family Y, this innovative campaign involves the creation of a large wall mural at the new Y to be composed of thousands of individual photographs of Y members and supporters. The picture on which the mosaic is based is “The Westport-Weston YMCA,” a watercolor by artist Kassie Foss of the Family Y’s historic Bedford Building.

Think of this picture mosaic as a digital version of the traditional ‘buy a brick’ fundraiser: Instead of paying for an inscribed brick or tile, contributors upload a favorite photo at www.pictureyournewy.org, along with a tax-deductible contribution to the Family Y’s “Building What Matters” capital campaign. Donors are able locate their photos within this online mosaic, as well as search for those of friends and neighbors.

Each and every photo within our growing mosaic tells a personal story, and together they form the larger story of the Family Y and the generations of local families we’ve been proud to serve.

We asked a recent contributor to our mosaic, longtime Y member Adrienne Williams, to share her own family’s Y story. Here it is:

My family’s connection to the Westport Weston Family Y began in 2001 when we moved to Westport from Washington, D.C. The Y was a perfect fit for our young family, offering great exercise facilities and various youth classes my children could enjoy.

Daniel Williams competing for the Water Rats in a Butterfly race.

I can still remember coming to the Y 12 years ago and dropping off my younger son, Joey, with Patti at babysitting. It was great to be able to work out and know that my son was being taken care of. While my children have outgrown the need for babysitting, I still use the Y all the time to lift weights and do cardio workouts.

The Y has been a tremendous part of my children’s lives. Both boys started out taking swim lessons and gymnastics classes and then became members of the Water Rat Swim Team. My eldest, Daniel, joined the team in 2005, after spending the previous year on the Bluefish “pre-team.” The coaches are fantastic and really care about the kids. The team also offers a healthy environment where everyone is encouraged to participate and try to do their best.

In the summer of 2010, Daniel got the CT State record for the boys 11/12-year-old 200M Butterfly and held that record until it was broken last winter. One of the pictures I submitted shows Daniel in a 200M Butterfly race. Daniel would not be the swimmer he is today without the commitment and talent that the Water Rat coaches provide. Daniel and a large group of other swimmers now participate on the Y’s National team, which will be attending the Y Nationals Swim Championships in Greensboro, N.C. this April. It’s hard to believe that it all started with swim lessons at the Y.

Joey Williams, doing his Michael Phelps imitation.

My younger son Joey is also a Water Rat. He enjoys the camaraderie of the team and has made some good friends because of his swimming. The coaches enjoy Joey’s wit, and he is known for his turn of a phrase. Always looking to ham it up, Joey had taken to flapping his arms like Michael Phelps before his races. One of the pictures I submitted of Joey captures his enthusiasm after finishing a race as he imitated the now famous Michael Phelps’ 8th gold medal Olympic pose. That’s part of what the Water Rats are about — having fun.

For us, the Water Rats are more than a sport our children can enjoy — it has become a family affair. Like many other Water Rat parents, I became involved in the swim program. I started out as a volunteer at swim meets, and then became a member of the Water Rats Parents’ Club. I have held several positions on the board, including Age Group representative, Meet Chair, and am now the Co-President of the Club. It has been a great joy to work with the coaches and other parents to support the Y’s swim team.

Adrienne Williams, with the family pet, Mongo.

For my family, the Y has been a great part of our lives. But the Y does so much more for the community: Hafaday swim lessons, child care, gymnastics, sports programs, Camp Mahackeno and the Strong Kids Campaign, which gives all kids the opportunity to experience all that the Y offers, regardless of financial or physical ability.

I am personally thrilled that a new facility is being built to support all the families who live and work in our community. But to be sure the new facility can operate in a fiscally sustainable manner, we need to continue providing our financial support. That is why it is so important to me to participate in fundraising efforts like “Picture Yourself at the New Family Y.” With the help of all those who participate, we can ensure that the new Y at Mahackeno will truly be a facility that everyone can use for many years to come — whether they are swimmers, fitness enthusiasts, basketball players or a youth (or senior) who is looking for a place to hang out with friends. So I hope others join me and picture themselves at the New Westport Weston Family Y.

Thank you, Adrienne, for all that you do on behalf of our Family Y.

Join her and other Y supporters and become a part of Y history. Visit www.pictureyournewy.org to donate and upload your own photo today.

For more information about the Y’s Building What Matters capital campaign, or to discuss making an additional contribution or multi-year pledge, contact Paul Bernetsky, Chief Development Officer, at 203-226-8981, ext. 115, or pberntesky@westporty.org.

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