Beacon Falls, Naugatuck YMCA kick off partnership

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By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

Beacon Falls First Selectman Gerard Smith, left, and Naugatuck YMCA CEO Mark LaFortune discuss a partnership between the town and the nonprofit organization Sept. 8 at Beacon Falls Town Hall. –ANDREAS YILMA

BEACON FALLS — The town is collaborating with the Naugatuck YMCA for the first time to provide programs for the community.

“It’s something new the town has never had before,” Board of Finance Chairman Thomas Pratt said during an informal meeting Sept. 8 at Town Hall between town and YMCA officials.

The YMCA kicked off the partnership last week with a chair yoga class for seniors at the Beacon Falls Senior Center. An enhanced fitness class for seniors was scheduled for this past Monday.

“Once they (seniors) register for the classes that we’re going to be providing at the senior center, they also have a membership to the Y,” Naugatuck YMCA Director of Operations Sherri Beck said. “So, they can actually come down to the Y and use the facility.”

Programs planned for seniors also include ones on fall prevention and nutritional guidance.

The YMCA is also planning programs for youth like exercise classes, a robotics engineering program, and arts and crafts. Officials are finalizing the plan for youth programs. They are going through responses from a survey sent to families earlier this year through Region 16 to get the perspective of the youth community.

“We’re going to put all of that together and create programming for what they are interested in doing,” Naugatuck YMCA CEO Mark LaFortune said.

The YMCA is working together with Parks and Recreation on programs. A beekeeper program and health forum are planned for later this month. Information on programs is available on the town’s website, beaconfalls-ct.org, and the YMCA’s site, naugatuckymca.org.

The YMCA will use town buildings and facilities for the programs. Most of the new programs will have little to no cost, officials said. The senior group exercise classes and some youth programming will be free. The programs that need a certified instructor will be offered at a low cost to families, according to LaFortune.

The town is paying the YMCA $15,000, which will go toward managing staff, using the Y’s registration system, program materials, and helping to reduce or eliminate program fees for residents, Pratt said.

Beacon Falls is in the Naugatuck YMCA’s service area, but the nonprofit organization never had much of a presence in town before.

Beck said the YMCA, which is on Church Street in Naugatuck, wasn’t getting many Beacon Falls families because the organization wasn’t active in town. She said the Y is trying to make it easier for them.

“I’m very excited to provide the opportunity to provide the programs that we have in Naugatuck to Beacon Falls and new programs,” Beck said. “There’s a lot of passion there and what we do, we do well. We want to do it well here.”

Officials discussed working together to expand the programs offered in town during the budget process this spring. First Selectman Gerard Smith said the Y is the perfect partner to provide more programs.

“We’re looking forward to a long, prosperous relationship with the Y and being able to bring many more resources to the community and opening up what the Y can do,” Smith said.

LaFortune said this partnership has been a long time coming and is advantageous for the town and YMCA.

“The relationship between Naugatuck and Beacon Falls should be a good one,” LaFortune said. “We want to make sure that we create that environment, and create positive learning and a healthy environment for both.”