Former office to be community center

From left, Ion Bank President Charles Boulier III, United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls Executive Director Lisa Shappy and Naugatuck YMCA CEO Susan Talbot stand outside the building at 270 Church St. in Naugatuck. The Ion Bank Foundation will turn the building into a community center for nonprofit organizations. –REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

From left, Ion Bank President Charles Boulier III, United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls Executive Director Lisa Shappy and Naugatuck YMCA CEO Susan Talbot stand outside the building at 270 Church St. in Naugatuck. The Ion Bank Foundation will turn the building into a community center for nonprofit organizations. –REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NAUGATUCK — A building that served as home to a local insurance agency downtown for 60 years will be turned into a community center to help local nonprofit organizations.

Ion Insurance Corp., formerly known as Sutherland Insurance, announced Tuesday that it has transferred its former headquarters at 270 Church St. to the Ion Bank Foundation, the nonprofit arm of Ion Bank and its affiliates. The foundation will establish a new community room on the first floor of the building and rent space throughout the rest of the building to the Naugatuck YMCA, which will lend space to the United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls. The YMCA will be charged $1 per month to rent the space.

“Our top priority will always be our customers and our community,” said Charles Boulier III, president and CEO of Ion Bank.

He said Ion Insurance recently moved to Cherry Street so the organization had no need for the Church Street building.

“Because we’re a local mutual institution that doesn’t have stockholders, we can take an asset like this building and turn it into something that the entire community can benefit from and enjoy,” he said.

The new community room will be on the first floor of the Church Street building, which is next to the YMCA. The 1,000 square feet of meeting space can be used by community organizations for events or meetings. The rest of the building will be occupied by the United Way and YMCA administrators.

The United Way will create office space in the building for the nonprofit organization Naugatuck Discovery, a collaborative of Naugatuck residents, child care providers, parents, seniors, family service providers, community groups, faith-based organizations and educators. The organization works to increase awareness of the importance of the early childhood years on a child’s social, emotional and academic success. The local United Way is the fiduciary for Naugatuck Discovery.

Currently, the United Way works out of a small office in the back of the YMCA.

“I’m excited because I think it’s going to bring more visibility to the United Way,” said Lisa Shappy, director of the United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls.

Moving some administrative offices from the YMCA to its new building will allow the organization to create new programs. The organization is seeking state approval to begin a child development center.

“We’re looking to use the space to serve preschool and it can be flipped in the evening to do family and youth programming,” said Susan Talbot, CEO of the Naugatuck YMCA. “We’re really lacking for space to do that now.”