Capital campaign making strides at YMCA

Naugatuck YMCA assistant preschool teacher Hailey Chamberlin helps William Perez, 4, left, and Liam Wallenta, 5, both of Naugatuck, build a castle made of blocks May 12 at the Y. The YMCA is in the midst of a capital campaign and has implemented improvements, including an additional preschool class. –LUKE MARSHALL

Naugatuck YMCA assistant preschool teacher Hailey Chamberlin helps William Perez, 4, left, and Liam Wallenta, 5, both of Naugatuck, build a castle made of blocks May 12 at the Y. The YMCA is in the midst of a capital campaign and has implemented improvements, including an additional preschool class. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — The dark red walls, blackout curtains, and lights that change colors in the newly-renovated spin cycle studio all send the same message: this is not the old Naugatuck YMCA.

“We are just constantly adjusting things to meet the needs of the community,” Naugatuck YMCA CEO Susan Talbot said.

The YMCA started a capital campaign in 2013 with a goal of raising $950,000 to make renovations and improvements to the building at 284 Church St.

“The building was built around 1924. Although it has been updated since 1924, it was just feeling tired,” Talbot said.

As of last week, the campaign had raised about $480,000 through donations and state grants, Talbot said.

Since the campaign began, the YMCA has added the new spin studio, renovated the pool and the area around the pool, replaced some of the cardio equipment, painted many of the rooms, and added another class for preschool, Talbot said.

“They are 100 percent subsidized slots for 4-year-olds in Naugatuck, which is fantastic,” Talbot said about the new preschool class. “So 18 kids are getting quality preschool that weren’t able to before.”

Talbot said the work has also dealt with improving the infrastructure of the building after it was determined the roof over the pool needed to be replaced.

In addition, the YMCA has extended the programs it offers, both at the Church Street building and offsite, Talbot said. It has even begun to offer programs in Beacon Falls.

Donors and residents gathered at the YMCA on May 12 to tour the new upgrades and see what the future holds for the building.

Although the YMCA is only halfway to its goal for fundraising, the strides made thus far have already made impressions.

Ion Bank President and CEO Charles Boulier, III, who is a member of the YMCA, complimented the work the organization has done so far.

Ion Bank Foundation committed $100,000 to the capital campaign, donating $75,000 over three years and promising another $25,000 if the YMCA meets its goal. In addition to money, the foundation donated office space for the YMCA at its building next door, 270 Church St. This ultimately led to opening space up at the Y for the additional preschool.

“I think it’s great,” Boulier said. “Kids today really need that pre-K. Studies have shown it really helps them. I’m really pleased to see that. I count that as a priceless addition because you can’t really measure the impact for those kids.”

The organization still has a long list of work it wants to complete, including replacing the bleachers and windows in the gymnasium, adding a playscape that can be shared with the adjacent St. Francis-St. Hedwig School, replacing more of the cardio equipment, and replacing some of the free weights and strength training machines.

Naugatuck resident Jaylen Bell, 16, works out at the Naugatuck YMCA on May 12. The YMCA is in the midst of a capital campaign and has implemented improvements. –LUKE MARSHALL

Naugatuck resident Jaylen Bell, 16, works out at the Naugatuck YMCA on May 12. The YMCA is in the midst of a capital campaign and has implemented improvements. –LUKE MARSHALL

Naugatuck resident Jaylen Bell, 16, took a break from his workout last week to talk about the upgrades taking place.

Bell said he appreciates the changes he’s seen and is pleased that the organization offers a place for him to come workout.

“It just gets my mind off things,” Bell said. “It’s a good area. I like Naugatuck. I like the people here, they are nice people.”

Talbot has heard similar compliments from a lot of people at the YMCA.

“People like the changes we are making. They like that we are spending time and investing in the facility. You can’t keep using things and not reinvest. We are only as good for the community as we can offer services, not only in this building but through all of our programs,” Talbot said.

Talbot said the days of financing a capital campaign through large donors are gone.

“We are doing the best we can with what we have available and looking to the community to support the changes we need to make,” she said.

Talbot encouraged residents to come down and see what the YMCA has to offer. The YMCA will be hosting a Rubber Duck 5K Road Race and demonstrating some of its programs, such as Zumba and Piloxing, on May 28 on the Town Green.

“We’ve got a lot programs and a lot of energy. If people haven’t been here in a while or if they’ve never been here, they definitely need to come in,” Talbot said.