Naugatuck YMCA receives boost for roof project

Naugatuck YMCA CEO Mark LaFortune leads a group of representatives from Liberty Bank Foundation, Ion Bank Foundation, People’s United Bank and Connecticut Community Foundation on a tour of the YMCA Nov. 14. –ANDREAS YILMA

NAUGATUCK — Residents who live on the top two floors of the Naugatuck YMCA are in danger of being displaced due to a leaking roof.

A few years ago, YMCA officials noticed the roof of its Church Street building, which was built in 1924, was leaking. There are water stains on the ceiling in a few of the YMCA multipurpose rooms on the main floor, and employees have had to put buckets down in rooms during programs to catch water.

The top two floors of the building are designated for residents, and the top floor is mostly vacant due to the leaking roof.

YMCA officials say the main roof over the residential units needs to be replaced and repairs are needed for the building’s other roofs. The project is estimated to cost $120,000.

Temporary repairs have been made to the roof, and the YMCA is close to raising the money for the roof project.

The state Department of Economic and Community Development awarded the Y a $50,000 historic preservation grant for the work. The grant required the YMCA to raise matching funds. Three local foundations and a bank came through for the nonprofit organization.

“We wouldn’t be here without the support of the community. We wouldn’t be able do the work we do without the support of the community,” YMCA Director of Operations Sherri Beck said. “If you don’t have the backing, it’s just not going to happen.”

Liberty Bank Foundation, Ion Bank Foundation, People’s United Bank and Connecticut Community Foundation awarded the YMCA grants totaling $45,000 for the project.

“We don’t usually do capital grants but this was so compelling because of the threat to the housing, because of the fact that a YMCA isn’t just a service provider, it’s also a place,” Liberty Bank Foundation Executive Director Sue Murphy said. “It’s a community center. The bricks and mortar matter to a Y.”

Naugatuck YMCA Director of Operations Sherri Beck, left, explains the different programs the YMCA offers to Liberty Bank Foundation Executive Director Sue Murphy at the YMCA Nov. 14. –ANDREAS YILMA

The YMCA provides housing for 30 low income men at the moment. The leaking roof threatens to displace these residents.

“It’s kind of like they’re a family without being related,” said Kevin Gallagher, who lives at the YMCA. “There’s a lot of good people that come here, you know, it’s very positive. I really enjoy it.”

The YMCA has raised $100,000 and still needs to raise $20,000 for the roof project.

“We’re going to work on that,” YMCA CEO Mark LaFortune said. “Ion Bank has said to us that if we needed to close a gap that they may step up and look into future funding that they would typically give us; (the bank) may give it to us early to help us with that. We’re looking for supporters and we’ll get there.”

YMCA officials are hoping to raise the remaining $20,000 and start fixing the roof in the spring of 2020. Once the roof over the residential units is replaced, the rooms on the top floors can be restored. Once they’re fixed, Beck said the YMCA can house an additional 15 to 20 residents.