People often overlook the fact that our Family Y does a lot more than provide great “swim & gym” opportunities for our 5,000-plus members. We’re a charitable nonprofit organization that strives to make its essential programs and services available to all who seek our help, regardless of their ability to pay.
Our continuing mission — as both a locally run center of community life and as part of network of Ys helping people in their own communities around the world — is to enrich the entire community by developing and nurturing the potential our youth, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility.
Not all of our costs, and good deeds, are covered by membership and program fees, so we rely on the generosity of our members and supporters to help us to fulfill our obligations in the community.
Last year, your contributions to our Annual Support Campaign, aka the Strong Kids Campaign, allowed us to provide:
• $120,000 in direct aid to those in need of child care;
• $83,000 in scholarships for children to attend Camp Mahackeno;
• $79,000 in subsidized or free memberships to neighbors in need.
In all, our Family Y provided $321,500 in financial assistance during 2012. (To read more about our Community Impact in 2012, please click here.) That’s a lot of good your generosity creates!
That need continues, which is why we’ve come up with a fun way to demonstrate our shared belief in the mission of our Y by putting in some “sweat equity” in support of our annual campaign.
Help us keep our wheels in motion.
From Monday, June 3 through Monday, June 10, our Family Y will have a Spin Bike at the Member Services Desk. (In the photo at right, Member Peter Bradeen takes the bike for a test spin as Y staffers Brian Marazzi and Jay Jaronko stand by.) Our goal is to keep the Spin Bike moving for 70 hours over the course of the week!
How can you help? Sign up today for a 30-minute session on the bike; each session costs $10 (or more if you wish). You can also nominate a staff member to ride a session for $20. To join us, simply stop by our Member Services Desk and let them know how you’d like to help. Every dollar we raise will go back to helping kids and families in Westport and Weston!
Thank you for helping us keep our charitable wheels in motion (and burn a few extra calories). And please know you can also make a safe and secure donation online, simply by clicking here.
At our Y, strengthening families and community is our cause; make it yours as well, by joining our Annual Support Campaign today.
Click on the graphic below to view a brief video about how your support helped our Family Y recover from Superstorm Sandy last fall. Thank you!
Much has changed at the Westport Weston Family Y’s 32-acre Mahackeno campus just north of downtown since Feb. 5, when our Y’s volunteer leaders, staff and construction partners were joined by dozens of Y members and supporters to celebrate the official groundbreaking ceremony for the 54,000 sq. ft. facility that, come late 2014, will serve as the Family Y’s new home.
A chilling breeze through bare trees has been replaced by the warm winds of spring that ripple through the light green of new leaves. Two-story high piles of topsoil, wood chips, and dirt and gravel have grown, shrunk, moved around as heavy-duty machines do the work of sorting and sifting and screening and crushing their way through some 7,300 cubic yards of material.
A view of the southeast corner of the new Y; to the far left and rear is where the Wellness Center will be situated.
The sloping hillside within which our new Y will be located has been dug out, sculpted and shaped. Thick walls of concrete are rising from the ground, released from their scaffolded forms. A sky-high crane lifts the forms and sets them down again, as workers fashion their bracework of rebar to be encased by yet more wet cement poured from the heavy spindles of the cement trucks.
Three months into the building project directed by Turner Construction, work on our new Y proceeds, its pace quickening as the work list expands. Progress continues every work day; safely, ahead of schedule, and (we’re happy to report) currently under budget.
Some key dates ahead: The masonry that will enclose the exterior walls will be added starting around June 7. A week or so later, around June 16, the steel girders that will form our new, two-level Y will begin to be erected by two very large cranes.
From an overlook along Allen Raymond Lane on the north side of the building site, visitors on our weekly guided tours are now able to truly “imagine the possibilities” — See that crane over there? It’s in the shallow end of our 10-lane lap pool… See those workers? They’re setting rebar under where Y members and guests will enter the main lobby… See that low wall jutting outward toward the brook, then along it, then back again, like a giant-size bay window? The bare dirt that bay window now encloses will, come late next year, be the carpeted floor of our beautiful new Wellness Center, with its picturesque views of the brook…
Click through the photo gallery above to see more photos, taken Monday, May 13, and read the captions for more details. To see renderings of the interior spaces, please click here for a pdf of images.
Or see for yourself by signing up for a tour, held each Wednesday at 12:15 pm. Groups are limited to 10 people; contact Susie Haydon at email@example.com or 203-226-8981, ext. 106. To find out more about Building What Matters, our campaign to fully fund and construct a modern and sustainable new Family Y, please click here.
To view a brief video about our campaign for a new Y, including an animated, virtual tour of what the inside will look like, please click on the image below.
On the right, the eastern wall of the new Y. Just inside it will be the new family/teaching/therapeutic pool. To the left and beyond, the Saugatuck River as it flows into Lees Pond.
See for yourself what we’re building … and why it matters at the Family Y’s 32-acre Mahackeno campus, at Route 33 and the Merritt Parkway just north of downtown Westport. We know you’ll be impressed by the work under way in bringing our new Y facility out of the ground — and inspired by what will soon be a new center of community life and activity for the whole family.
The Family Y is conducting tours of the construction site each Wednesday at 12:15 pm. Groups are limited to 10 people per day, so reserve your place by contacting Susie Haydon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-226-8981, ext. 106. To access the site, turn off Route 33 (Wilton Road) at the Red Barn restaurant and park at the construction trailer.
In the one-hour tour, you’ll get the latest updates about the work in process from our partners at Turner Construction on a short walk from the main trailer down the pavement of Allen Raymond Lane to a spot overlooking the busy site. Workers are now finishing the foundation and preparing to erect the steel frame of our modern new home.
See where the 10-lane lap pool will be, imagine the views of the Saugatuck River and Lees Pond looking out from the Wellness Center, and visualize how convenient it will be to drive up to our new Y to drop off your kids or park and walk inside for your own workout.
Beyond the scenic little valley that Poplar Plains Brook babbles through, you’ll look out over the rest of the wooded property, to where Mahackeno campers will play in the summer and where Y members can stroll and exercise throughout the year. Seeing is believing!
For more information about how to make a tax-deductible donation or multi-year pledge to help fully fund the new Westport Weston Family Y, please contact Paul Bernetsky, Chief Development Officer, at ext. 115 or email@example.com.
The Family Y also has launched a new, community-wide fundraising effort called “Picture Yourself at the New Family Y” — instead of the traditional “buy a brick” campaign, we’re creating a large picture mosaic composed of thousands of individual photos of Y members and supporters, which will be permanently displayed in the lobby of our new Y.
Registration for the Family Y’s Summer Session of classes and programs is now under way. Summer classes and programs at the Y’s downtown facility start the week of June 24, with most continuing through the week of August 19.
The Y – a leading nonprofit committed to youth development, healthy living and social responsibility – exists to strengthen community. The Y offers a unique combination of programs that improve health, nurture youth, and connect members of all ages to their neighbors and community. It’s the place where can you get back into a sport you used to enjoy, take a class with your spouse or child, or enjoy regular time together as a family.
Adult Y members and their guests take part in pickup basketball games at lunchtime; moms and dads help their young children learn how to be safe in the water through parent-child aquatics classes or improve their motor skills at Toddler Adventure Gym; families work out together in our Fitness Center or stride side-by-side on the treadmills and elliptical machines in the Cardio Center.
The Family Y also offers a number of activities that are open to everyone in the community.
On Saturday, May 18, the Y hosts its first-ever Holistic Health Day. “Holistic” health is an approach to life that focuses on complete body health and the relationship between your environment and your health. It emphasizes the connection of the spirit, mind and body.
Find out for yourself by joining in a variety of classes and special activities, from Tai Chi to Qigong to Acupuncture, taking place in our Bedford and Bresslin Rooms from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm.
Ping Pong is a popular activity at Youth Fun Night at the Y.
And later on Saturday, May 18, from 7:30 to 9:30 pm, the Family Y turns into a “clubhouse for tweens” for Youth Fun Night. On Youth Fun Nights, the Y is open just for 4th to 7th graders from the Westport and Weston school districts, no membership required. Kids can join friends, neighbors, and classmates for an evening of swimming, basketball, games and ice cream. The cost is $12 in advance; $15 at the door. For details or to register, visit http://www.westporty.org.
Y members and non-members alike also have a multitude of options for Y day camps and special programs taking place this summer. The Y’s downtown facility conducts weeklong specialty camps throughout the summer, for young gymnasts, dancers, basketball, lacrosse and more, as well as a variety of learn-to-swim programs.
The Y’s popular Hafaday Summer Swim Lesson Program is designed for children ages 4 to 8 and is held each weekday from 8:45 am to 12:30 pm. Hafaday is primarily a swim program, with both a lesson and a free swim period each day. Arts and crafts, music and gym time, including yoga, karate, and games round out each morning of fun. Parents are encouraged to sign up their children soon, as most sessions fill to capacity.
And according to Meg George, Camp and Youth Director, the Y’s special collaboration, Earthplace-Mahackeno Summer Camp 2013, is already close to capacity for some grades and weekly sessions. This one-year partnership, the result of Camp Mahackeno’s hiatus during construction of the new Y facility, will take place at Earthplace, The Nature Discovery Center, a 62-acre nature sanctuary and educational center in the Old Hill section of Westport. Because of the combined operations this year, enrollment is limited.
How often do kids get a chance to say hello to a ferret? They will at Earthplace-Mahackeno Summer Camp this year!
Says Meg: “We’ve added a few spaces to our 3rd Grade group, but only by borrowing some spots from other grades. We currently have less than 10 spots left in all the sessions for Grades 5, 6 and 7. And many of our sessions for Grades 1, 2 and 3 are more than half full.”
“Interestingly, most of the campers currently signed up are new to either camp,” Meg notes.
“Unlike previous summers at Mahackeno, once sessions and grades are full this summer, we won’t be able to add any groups at the last minute,” she adds. “Please keep this in mind as you make your summer plans. We don’t want to see anyone miss out on a chance to be a part of Earthplace-Mahackeno Summer Camp 2013.”
Nationally, the Y engages 9 million youth and 12 million adults in 10,000 communities across the U.S. The Family Y serves 5,500 members who live and work in Westport, Weston and surrounding communities. Our current membership represents 15 percent of the towns we serve and 25 percent of all local youth. Nearly 40 percent of all local grade-school children are active in Family Y programs and special activities.
To learn more about the Westport Weston Family Y, including membership options and guest policies, contact Brian Marazzi, Membership & Marketing Director, at 203-226-8981, ext. 165 or visit www.westporty.org.
As far as I’m concerned, SUMMER IS HERE! And the best way to get your jump start is to sign up for our summer session of classes. Registration begins Monday, May 6, at 8:00 am. Classes fill up fast so please try to register as soon as possible.
The Y has a great summer class selection in addition to various camps.
AQUATIC CLASSES – Your kids can be sea worthy in no time at all, and it is especially important, with all the pools and beaches opening that our children can swim and be safe. The Y’s emphasis on safety in instruction is paramount.
We are offering an option of classes taken once a week for eight weeks or four times a week for two weeks. If you prefer private or semi-private instruction, this is also available for all ages. Pediatric aquatic therapy and special needs instruction is also available.
HAFADAY – Sessions fill quickly for this amazing summer program, which gives children the vital chance to build swim skills, regardless of previous experience, and have a lot of summer fun. Designed for children ages 4 to 8 and held each weekday from 8:45 am to 12:30 pm, Hafaday is primarily a swim program, with both a lesson and a free swim period each day. It’s the best way to learn to swim. Arts and crafts, music and gym time, including yoga, karate, and games round out each morning of fun.
We have 9 weekly sessions, beginning Monday, June 17 and continuing on through the week of August 12. Students in swim lessons are grouped by age and ability. The cost for Y Members is $270 per week; $295 for non-members. Click here to sign up.
Weekly Sports & Recreation Summer Classes will be offered in the following disciplines: Intermediate Fencing; Guitar; Little Lacrosse; Youth Indoor Tennis; Parent/Child Indoor Soccer; Youth Floor Hockey; Dribbling with Dad; and more. Just check our online brochure for details, then register at www.westporty.org.
DANCE CAMPS – For the twirling Divas there are quite a few choices for a variety of ages, from Princess Dance Camp for the tiniest ballerinas to the older pre-teen group of Hip Hoppers and Tappers.
GYMNASTICS – The gymnasts will not be lazy this summer. There’s a multitude of opportunity to tumble, practice and play at all levels of gymnastics, from competitive to pre-competitive to just plain fun.
EARTHPLACE-MAHACKENO – Last but certainly not least, is our beloved summer day camp. The exciting new wrinkle this year is that our Mahackeno campers get to explore a whole new world of nature and fun this summer thanks to our partners at Earthplace, the Nature Discovery Center.
Have we left anything out of our summer planner? No doubt — so please come and visit us at the Y’s Member Services Desk just inside the Church Lane Entrance in downtown Westport to talk more about our summer camps, classes and programs.
Here’s some interesting “who knew?” history about the Westport Weston Family Y and our local community that was recently brought to light first by local historian Brian O’Leary and then expanded upon by Dan Woog and some insightful “alert readers” of his always informative 06880 blog.
The larger subject is the 150th anniversary of key Civil War battles, and Westporters’ involvement in the conflict. That story is intertwined, so to speak, with the history of a prominent local family, the Lees, who founded what is believed to be the oldest twine-making concern in the United States.
Lees Dam on the Saugatuck, just upstream from downtown Westport.
The Y connection to all this? The Family Y is the owner of Lees Pond and the dam that forms it, a 200-ft. long, 17-ft. high stone masonry structure spanning the Saugatuck River. The dam is just downstream from the Y’s Mahackeno campus, site of the new Y now under construction and home of the Y’s summer day camp, Camp Mahackeno.
Summer campers have been enjoying the 8-acre Lees Pond since the early 1940s, when the Bedford family helped buy the 32-acre Mahackeno property for the Y and its members.
According to research compiled by town historian Allen Raymond, the Y was deeded the dam and the eight acres of Lees Pond in 1975. The current dam dates to 1903, to impound Lees Pond for water supply for a downstream mill. In 1959 sluice gates were installed and the pond was made deeper. In 1961, a fish ladder was constructed by the State of Connecticut.
By the 1980s, the Corps of Engineers inspected the dam and noted a number of concerns, which led the Family Y to obtain a Dam Restoration permit from the state in the early 1990s and to set about raising sufficient funds for its repairs. That process took nearly another decade, but by 2001, the repairs were complete and a ceremony of dedication on October 10 of that year.
While the Y is regarded as the owner of Lees Pond Dam, the local citizens that originally deeded the dam to the Y — Nat Greenberg and Leo Nevas and their trustees, own the rip-rapping and concrete apron, downstream of the south face of the dam. (JoAnn Nevas Price owns the property over which the State Right of Way is secured.)
Long story short(er): The Y ended up paying the cost of the repairs, which were estimated to be nearly $130,000.
Of course, the steady flows of the Saugatuck River have been used to supply power to early industrial factories since 1815, when Lewis Raymond and David Richmond erected an eight-foot tall dam to help turn out cotton yarn. The complex of factory buildings, workers cottages and the owner’s house came to be called Richmondville.
The first dam faltered in 1842, wrote Allen Raymond in a history of Lees Pond Dam, and the factories sat unused until 1844, when John Lees and John Dryden restored the dam and property to establish Lees Manufacturing, which made cording, threads, wicks and twine from southern cotton.
Mahackeno campers at play in the waters of Lees Pond.
The company continued long after electricity replaced water power, and management passed from son (Thomas) to son (Robert) to John A. Lees. The mill operation closed in the 1950s, leaving this bucolic part of Westport to neighboring homeowners, summer campers, fishermen and, in cold winters past, ice skaters.
In his spare time, he does detective work — on Westport’s history.
Following up on yesterday’s post, referencing the Lees’ twine manufacturing company — and Mary Palmieri Gai’s additional comments, remembering Lees’ Richmondville mill and surrounding real estate — Dale writes that the Leeses were “a fairly large family, and pretty prominent Westporters back in the day.”
They began selling their significant landholdings in the 1920s — but the name survives, thanks to Lees Pond, Lees Dam and Lees Lane, all in the Richmondville area.
And this from Commenter Mary Palmieri Gai:
My parents both works for Mr. Lees making twine in the early 1930s when they came to Westport from Italy. I was surprised to learn not long ago that the last name is Lees not Lee. That whole area of Richmondville Ave was built around the mill which must have been owned by someone else before Lees because my parents remembered him and his daughter who lived a very long life. My cousins own the original Lees mansion (small by today’s standards) where my parents and later my grandparents rented apartments from my uncle. One of my brothers was actually born in that house and my Grandma, who refused to learn one word of English, lived there until she died in 1969. Saugatuck wasn’t the only Italian enclave in Westport. The entire road and surrounding roads on and off main street were all my paisans and I venture to guess most worked for Mr. Lees at one time.
On the right, the eastern wall of the new Y. Just inside it will be the new family/teaching/therapeutic pool. To the left and beyond, the Saugatuck River as it flows into Lees Pond.
Amazing to think of all the changes that have happened — and are now happening — to this delightful stretch of scenic waterway. Soon a new facility will rise on the far shore of Lees Dam, and come next year, Mahackeno campers will be back in their canoes on Lees Pond, enjoying another fun-filled summer.
To quote another onetime Westporter, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
With construction of the new Y under way, this summer Mahackeno campers will be part of a joint summer camp, conducted by the Y and Earthplace and hosted at Earthplace’s 62-acre nature sanctuary just aways from Mahackeno on 10 Woodside Lane.
For more information about Earthplace-Mahackeno Summer Camp 2013, please click here.
To learn more about the Family Y’s Building What Matters campaign to fund and construct a new facility at Mahackeno, click here.
Lots of fun ways for you and your family to join in our community’s Greenday celebrations on Sunday, including activities from 12 to 2 pm at Earthplace, our Family Y’s summer-camp partner.
There will be guided nature walks and pond science demos, as well as a toy solar-car building activity at Earthplace’s 62-acre nature sanctuary at 10 Woodside Lane in the Old Hill section of Westport.
If you missed the Mahackeno-Earthplace Summer Camp 2013 Open House at Earthplace last weekend, stop by Earthplace on Sunday to tour our campers’ wonderful new locale for summer fun.
“It was great to see so many Mahackeno faces and meet some new Earthplace families,” says Camp and Youth Director Meg George of the day. “Some of our camp sessions are already starting to fill up,” she adds. “Our Grade 1 and 3 as well as our LIT/CIT and Trackers groups already have some weeks will less than 5 spots left, so don’t wait on registering if you need specific weeks.”
“We have been able to add a few spaces to our 3rd Grade group, but only by borrowing some spots from other grades,” Meg continues. “We currently have less than 10 spots left in all the sessions for Grades 5, 6 and 7. And many of our sessions for Grades 1, 2 and 3 are more than half full. Unlike previous summers at Mahackeno, once these sessions and grades are full, we won’t be able to add any groups at the last minute.
You can find links to the registration paperwork, as well as details about each Weekly Theme, at Camp Registration Forms.
May is National Water Safety Month, and as swim season approaches, the Family Y encourages local children and parents to explore the many benefits of swimming, while also keeping safety top of mind. In the Y’s swim programs, participants can enjoy water sports, enhance or learn new techniques, meet new friends and develop confidence, while also learning safety skills that can save lives.
What’s more, registration for the Y’s Summer Session begins Monday, May 6, with new classes starting on June 24. There are a variety of programs to choose, including parent-child swim classes, pre-school and youth swim lessons, as well as semi- and private swim lessons, at any age, with or without a parent. Click here to view our 28-page online brochure.
A young swimmer takes the plunge at the Splash! Week learn-to-swim program at the Y held during the April School Break.
Work on our modern new Y facility for the Westport and Weston communities continues safely and ahead of schedule. Most of the photos you see above were taken on Wednesday, Apr. 24, during the weekly group tour of the building site.
Our partners at Turner Construction report that nearly half of the concrete “footing” has been set, with some 15 percent of the foundation walls now in place. More than 8,000 tons of material have been processed onsite. Not only does this minimize the amount of truck traffic to and from the site; it’s also resulted in a savings of $150,000 — money that will be well spent adding additional features and amenities to our new home!
To reserve your spot in one of our guided tours each Wednesday at 12:15 pm, please email Susie Haydon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Westport Weston Family Y’s Building What Matters campaign to fund and construct a new home for the Family Y on its 32-acre Mahackeno campus, please click here.
The new Family Y. In this view, looking north from Poplar Plains Brook, the crane is situated on about where the surface of our 10-lane lap pool will be. In the foreground will be the Wellness Center, which will have beautiful views of the Saugatuck River.
Scott Smith joined the Westport Weston Family Y as director of communications in January 2011. He previously held the position of director of communications, editor, for the United States Golf Association and has been a staff writer and editor for an array of magazines, including BusinessWeek, Bon Appetit and Golf Digest. A resident of Westport since 1997, Scott is active in local community affairs, most recently serving as chair of the town-appointed Longshore 50th Anniversary Committee.
203-226-8981, ext. 112
Midge has served as Family Y Membership Coordinator since 2007. Born and raised in New York City, Midge worked as a researcher for “60 Minutes” and was a producer at CBS News. She moved to Westport in 1993 and has watched her two children, now 19 and 15, grow up at the Y. Midge is also an active volunteer in the community, having served on the board of the Westport Young Woman’s League, among other civic efforts. email@example.com