NAUGATUCK — Standing in the Neary Ballroom Room on Church Street Feb. 7, Naugatuck YMCA CEO Susan Talbot told supporters of the organization she treasures the Y because it’s a community to her.
“It’s a way of life for me,” said Talbot, who added every day as CEO is a brand new day to make an impact on someone’s life.
Talbot then asked those gathered in the ballroom to think of why they treasure the YMCA. It’s a message the organization will now bring to the community as the YMCA moves forward with its Treasure the Y capital campaign.
The campaign kicked off last Friday night and seeks to raise $850,000 for infrastructure improvements to the YMCA building at 284 Church St.
“We need to reinvest in the infrastructure that is the community center of the town,” Talbot said.
The campaign is the second such campaign in the past 10 years for the YMCA, said Campaign Chairman Paul Fitzpatrick, a Naugatuck native and CPA with an office downtown.
In 2006, the YMCA raised $2.5 million for improvements. The focus of the previous improvements was a new elevator, new locker rooms and renovations to bring the YMCA into compliance with the American with Disabilities Act, explained Fitzpatrick, who chaired the first campaign as well.
The current campaign has four major components, including the recently completed renovations to the pool. The gym is slated to be renovated, including new bleachers and a HVAC system that will bring air conditioning to the gym for the first time. New cardio equipment will be added to the YMCA’s fitness rooms as well.
The largest piece of the project, Fitzpatrick said, will be redoing the maze-like YMCA’s administrative offices and front desk. In addition, a complete upgrade of the organization’s computer software will be done, he added.
“We’re coming out of the 18th century and into the 21st century,” Fitzpatrick joked.
The computer upgrades will also include establishing a cyber café in the lobby of the YMCA as well as an interactive white board and security cameras for the preschool program.
As a Naugatuck native, Fitzpatrick said his family grew up at the YMCA. He said the YMCA has something for everyone — from afterschool programs for children to activities for senior citizens — and it’s vital to maintain the infrastructure of the organization.
“I think everyone in town is touched by the Y in one way or another,” he said.
Fitzpatrick is hopeful the $850,000 goal can be reached within a year. The campaign is already well on its way as more than half of the $850,000 has already been raised, he said.
The campaign received a significant boost towards its goal with some help from a local bank.
Novelty check in hand, President and CEO of Ion Bank Charles Boulier III announced that the Ion Bank Foundation has pledged $100,000 to the campaign.
Out of the $100,000 pledge, $75,000 is guaranteed, Boulier explained.
The YMCA will receive the remaining $25,000 if the community raises an additional $400,000. The idea mirrors the online giving challenge held last fall by the Connecticut Community Foundation. The YMCA raised the third highest total during the 24-hour challenge.
Boulier said he’s confident the YMCA will meet the challenge.
Boulier described the YMCA has an organization that is a part of him. He learned to swim at a YMCA, he said, and is a frequent user of the gym equipment at the Naugatuck YMCA. He’s such a fixture at the Naugatuck YMCA that he quipped he’s its worst customer because he wears out the treadmill.
Kidding aside, Boulier said Ion Bank is an institution that gives back the community. Ten percent of the bank’s earning go to its foundation, he said, which enables the foundation to support community organizations.
“The foundation is able to make contributions to what I consider key institutions like the Y, because the Y builds good people,” Boulier said.
Anyone interested in donating to the campaign can contact the YMCA at (203) 729-9622 for more information.