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Family YMCA Announces Creation of $5 Million Bedford Family Social Responsibility Fund

The 91st Annual Meeting of the charitable nonprofit YMCA, and first in its new Bedford Family Center.

The 91st Annual Meeting of the charitable nonprofit YMCA, and first in its new Bedford Family Center.

The Westport Weston Family YMCA convened its 91st Annual Meeting of the Association – and first at its Bedford Family Center at Allen Raymond Lane – on Monday, June 15.

Held in the new Y facility’s main studio on its lower level, by tradition the meeting of the volunteer leaders and professional staff of the charitable nonprofit organization highlights the previous year. Annual awards are bestowed, departing board members are thanked for their contributions and new board members are elected and ratified to help govern the Family YMCA in service to its members and the community as a whole.

All that was accomplished and more, as 2014 was a year of historic transition and transformation for the Westport Weston Family YMCA.

On Oct. 6, 2014, we opened the doors of our beautiful new home on our 32-acre Mahackeno campus. Months before, on June 11, we celebrated the opening of our YMCA Gymnastics Center in Norwalk, our Y’s first off-site facility.

Following the retirement last fall of CEO Rob Reeves and the interim leadership of YMCA veteran Philip Dwyer of Fairfield, this past week the Y welcomed Pat Riemersma as its new chief executive officer.

YMCA Trustee and great-great grandson of Y founder Edward T. Bedford with Y CEO Pat Riemersma, Board of Directors President Bonnie Strittmatter and Board of Trustees Chairman Pete Wolgast at the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s 91st Annual Meeting, June 15, 2015.

YMCA Trustee and great-great grandson of Y founder Edward T. Bedford John McKinney with Y CEO Pat Riemersma, Board of Directors President Bonnie Strittmatter and Board of Trustees Chairman Pete Wolgast at the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s 91st Annual Meeting, June 15, 2015.

This new era for the Family YMCA not only begins with new leadership and new facilities, but also with the incredibly generous endowment of $40 million from the estate of Ruth Bedford, YMCA Trustee Emeritus and granddaughter of Y founder Edward T. Bedford.

In her first remarks as new CEO, Pat Riemersma set the YMCA on a course that will allow it to expand upon its mission to serve and enrich the community by announcing the establishment of the Bedford Family Social Responsibility Fund.

“At the Y our three areas of focus are youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, which drive our goals and outcomes both inside the facility and in the community,” said Riemersma. “The Y’s success is also achieved through partnerships and collaborations with other nonprofits, area businesses and community leaders. We all have a common purpose – to strengthen our communities and help close opportunity gaps.”

“I’m extremely pleased and honored to announce that the Board of Trustees has designated a portion of the bequest to create the Bedford Family Social Responsibility Fund. They have also designated a previous bequest by the late Allen Raymond for the same purpose, giving the fund a beginning balance of $5 million,” said Riemersma.

The first funds will be available for distribution in June 2016 and will be focused on community-based programming and meeting the most pressing social issues and needs of local individuals and selected groups, including but not limited to:

  • Social services such as child welfare, education and substance abuse;
  • Volunteer and community service;
  • Military outreach and respite care;
  • Working with faith-based organizations;
  • Service to residents of Westport and Weston, as well as residents of Norwalk and Bridgeport in conjunction and cooperation with those neighboring YMCAs.

“The YMCA forms a critical part of the fabric of our community, and this new fund will only strengthen its impact in many positive ways,” said Jim Marpe, First Selectman of the Town of Westport at a community reception held at the Family YMCA on Sunday, June 14.

YMCA Trustee and Volunteer of the Year Rick Benson.

YMCA Trustee and Volunteer of the Year Rick Benson.

“If it weren’t for the Y, local taxpayers would have to pay for many of the services the Y has long provided. I’m delighted to know that the legacy of charitable good works set forth by the Bedford Family and continued by my late friend Allen Raymond will be honored in such a meaningful way.”

A standing committee comprised of members of the YMCA’s governing volunteer boards and community leaders will be named. Under the guidance of CEO Riemersma, this committee will create final guidelines for the services to be supported and the process for distributions of the proceeds from the fund.

Among other highlights of the 91st Annual Meeting of the Family YMCA, the following Board members were recognized for the service in leadership positions:

Board of Directors
Jonathan Cooperman, 2007-15
Kana Higuchi, High School Advisor, 2013-15
Matthew Haynes, 2009-15
Michael Maloney, 2011-15
Anandi Subramanian, 2012-15

Board of Trustees
Jo Fuchs-Luscombe, 1998-2015
Duncan O’Brien, 2013-15
Tamarra R. Pincavage, 1998-2015
William Sorenson, 2004-15

Sally Silverstein with new High School Advisory Board member Alexandra Spadacenta and Kana Higuchi, winner of the Edward T. Bedford Outstanding Youth award.

Sally Silverstein with new High School Advisory Board member Alexandra Spadacenta and Kana Higuchi, winner of the Edward T. Bedford Outstanding Youth award.

The following local leaders were elected and ratified for their first term of service:

Board of Directors
Alexandra Spadacenta
Dan McHugh

Board of Trustees
Doug Fincher
Rob Haroun
Judge Alan H. Nevas
Jennifer Tooker

Among special annual honorees, Rick Benson, a longtime member of the Board of Trustees, was named the Lee J. Edelstein Volunteer of the Year. As a member of the Y’s Construction Committee, Rick was instrumental in helping deliver the new Y facility on budget. He is also very a hands-on volunteer, whether it’s to wield a leaf blower at the annual Camp Mahackeno clean-up day or to help direct traffic at a Y special event.

Monique Ostbye, recipient of the Lynne A. Warren Community Service award with her family and CEO Pat Riemersma.

Monique Ostbye, recipient of the Lynne A. Warren Community Service award with her family and CEO Pat Riemersma.

The Edward T. Bedford Outstanding Youth award was given to Kana Higuchi. Not only did Kana serve two years as one of our High School Advisory Board members, the new Staples graduate also helped coach cheerleading clinics at our YMCA Gymnastics Center and devoted hundreds of volunteer hours helping out at the Y’s camps and special events.

Alex Kogstad was named the Paul I. Becker Employee of the Year, and Monique Ostbye received the Lynn A. Warren Community Service award. Both were well-deserved honors.

For more information about the Westport Weston Family YMCA and its newly established Bedford Family Social Responsibility Fund, please contact Pat Riemersma, Family YMCA CEO, at 203-226-8981 or priemersma@westporty.org.

YMCA Employee of the Year Alex Kogstad, with his parents.

YMCA Employee of the Year Alex Kogstad, with his parents.