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Family Y Building Project Bolstered by New $1 Million Gift

Bonnie and Bill Strittmatter.

The Westport Weston Family Y announced today that it has received a leadership gift of $1 million from Bonnie Strittmatter, President of the Family Y Board of Directors, and her husband, Bill. The Strittmatters have now pledged a total of $1.7 million toward the construction of a new facility at the Family Y’s 32-acre Mahackeno Outdoor Center.

“It is with the deepest respect and appreciation that we thank Bonnie and Bill for this most meaningful gift,” said Jim Marpe, Chairman of the Y’s Board of Trustees. “Bonnie has given so much of herself, so tirelessly, so selflessly, in leading the Family Y through the final stages of its campaign for a new home. And just when you think, ‘How could she possibly give more?’ Bonnie and Bill step forward with this magnificent gesture.”

Bonnie Strittmatter was named President of the Family Y’s Board of Directors in June 2011, succeeding Iain Bruce, who served the maximum two two-year terms allowed. She and her fellow Directors, all volunteers, oversee the Family Y’s operations and programs; the Trustees manage the assets and long-term investments of the nonprofit charitable organization.

“When this Y gets built – and it will be built – we will have Bonnie to thank most of all for getting us across the finish line,” said Rob Reeves, Family Y CEO. “Not just for her and Bill’s most generous philanthropy, but because of her soft-spoken yet firm leadership and her unflinching commitment to, in her memorable words, ‘bringing this building out of the ground’.”

Bonnie joined the Y Board in 2005, having previously served as Treasurer and Co-President of the Family Y’s Water Rat Parents’ Club when her two children, Laura and Alex, swam on the team until graduating from high school. Both went on to swim in college. Laura is currently a doctoral candidate at Harvard University and Alex is an engineering student at Tufts University.

“Our children grew up at the Y, from learning to swim as toddlers in the Brophy Pool, to summers at Camp Mahackeno, to their life-changing involvement with the Water Rat Swim Team,” said Bonnie. “The Y fulfills a unique role not only in our families’ lives but for our entire community.”

Bonnie moved to Westport with her family in 1965 and became a member of the Family Y. She graduated from Staples High School, receiving her undergraduate degree in economics from Smith College and MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She retired from GE Capital Corp. in 2007 after 29 years in financial management at both GE and GE Capital. Bill continues his career with GE Capital. The Strittmatter family has lived in Fairfield since 1990; Bonnie’s parents resided in Westport for 40 years.

”Bonnie and I appreciate all that the Y has given our family,” said Bill Strittmatter. “And we want to help ensure that other local families will be able to benefit from the same positive experiences.”

With the Strittmatters’ $1 million gift, the Family Y has now raised nearly $9 million in cash and multi-year pledges. This includes a $1 million donation from Y supporter Ann Louise Onton in September 2011, a $1 million matching gift from Y Trustee Robin Tauck in December (since fully matched) and a $500,000 bequest announced last month from Y Trustee Emeritus Allen Raymond, as well as several major recent contributions from benefactors who have given anonymously. In all, the Family Y has identified $32 million in funding, including proceeds from the agreed-upon sale of its current home.

A significant portion of the remaining $5 million in cash and pledges will need to be secured by May 11 for the Family Y to have the confidence needed to move forward with the project.

An illustration of Phase I of the new Family Y, with future stages outlined to the right.

Provided that sufficient funding is in place, construction will begin this fall on Phase I of the new Family Y, which will begin as a 55,000 sq. ft. facility that will include a lap pool and family/teaching pool; expansive Wellness Center; multi-purpose Gymnasium; three large group-fitness studios; a Child Watch/Kids’ Adventure Gym area; five locker rooms; and other amenities of a modern, family-oriented Y facility.

“It’s not a matter of dreaming up a new Y somewhere downtown, or of somehow remaining in our current home past 2014,” said Bonnie Strittmatter. “After more than 15 years of painstaking work, it really does come down to a new Y for our community at Mahackeno or no Y at all. We’re hopeful that other local leaders will realize that the time to support our Y is now.”

For information about the “Building What Matters” capital campaign, visit www.westporty.org.  To discuss making a financial contribution, please contact Rob Reeves at 203-226-8981, ext. 131 or rreeves@westporty.org.