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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

At Annual Meeting, Y Looks Ahead to Mahackeno

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By James Lomuscio

A spirit of optimism over the planned move to Camp Mahackeno filled the Bedford Room late today as the Westport Weston Family Y held its 87th annual meeting.WestportNow.com Image
Pete Wolgast (l), head of the Y’s board of trustees, presents an award to Allen Raymond at today’s annual meeting. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The meeting began with a fundraising video about the Y’s new home, a 100,000-square-foot, Adirondack-styled building on the 32 acres the Y owns at Mahackeno in the north side of town.

Now used only 10 weeks a year for summer camp, the new facility will be open year round since the Y has outgrown its downtown facility, the video says.

In the film, Y CEO Robert Reeves stresses, “we’re not a private health club.” Local businessman Bill Mitchell talks about how he has been a member of the Y “all my life.”

Also on the video, First Selectman Gordon Joseloff says the construction of the new facility will “boost the economy” by bringing more jobs to Westport.

And Iain Bruce, chairman of the Y’s board of directors, underscores the need for the new building, saying, “as the town evolves, we have to evolve with it.”

Following the film, Bruce noted that it has been a good year for the Y in that it has won all the lawsuits that have halted construction, “and we are in the first phase of the capital campaign.”

With all legal hurdles cleared comes the last lap, raising $43 million to build.WestportNow.com Image
Iain Bruce, head of the Y’s board of directors, presents an award to board member Barbara Wiederecht. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

“The sale of this building makes up about half, and the other half have to be raised,” said Bruce.

Jim Marpe, who serves on the Y’s investment committee, said that the Y’s investment portfolio was $5.1 million in March, up 8 percent from the previous year.

By May, he added, that portfolio has grown to $5.6 million. He pointed out, however, that those funds would not go to the new building but to programs and scholarships.

“We look forward not only to our financial assets but that new building asset as well,’ said Marpe.

In that spirit, Y officials gave special honors to those who have been key figures in the planned move—Bruce, who just completed two terms as president of the Y’s board of directors, and Pete Wolgast, who served two terms as chairman of the Y’s board of trustees.

Awards were the order of the evening as more than a dozen Y supporters, volunteers, employees and board members were also honored.

Among them were past trustees Mitchell, William L. Gault, and Allen A. Raymond.

“Bill (Gault) and his family have done so much for the Y and us over the years, and Bill has served more than 20 years on both our board of directors and board of trustees,” said Wolgast.

In presenting the award to Raymond, Wolgast choreographed another long history of service to the Y and the town. WestportNow.com Image
Part of the crowd at today’s annual Y meeting. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Raymond, too, spent decades on both Y boards, as well as serving on the board of trustees for the Westport Public Library and on the board of the Nature Center.

“Allen, than you so much for all that you have done for our community,” he said.

Other board of directors members honored were Anne R. Fenn, who served from 2005-10,  Jennifr Lunde, a Staples High School senior who served from 2009-11, and Barbara Wiederecht, from 2001-11.

Wiederecht also received the Y’s 2011 Lee J. Edelstein Volunteer of the Year Award. It is given to those who embody the Y’s “character principles of caring, respect, responsibility and honesty.”

Three Staples seniors, Margot Bruce, a swimmer, and gymnasts Alana Luttinger and Caitlin Wiederecht, won the 2011 Edward T. Bedford Outstanding YMCA Youth Award. Another senior, Kara Tricarico, won the Lynn A. Warren YMCA Community Service Award.

Steven Forlano, who teaches yoga, karate and teen fitness classes at the Y, was honored with the 2011 Paul I. Becker YMCA Employee of the Year Award.

In his closing remarks, CEO Reeves reiterated the upbeat mood of the evening, noting that the Y was on track toward Mahackeno.

Posted 06/21 at 12:23 AM

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