Borough YMCA receives $1 million grant, funds to go towards infrastructure

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Laurie Rogers gives a speech along side Naugatuck CEO Mark LaFortune after she received the Fredrick Zonino Volunteer of the Year award at the Naugatuck YMCA’s annual dinner on June 23 at the Crystal Room. Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

NAUGATUCK — The borough YMCA is expecting to receive a $1 million state grant and is hopeful to receive another $1.9 million grant from the federal level.

The State Bond Commission voted in March to award a $1 million grant to Naugatuck YMCA. Y officials are going through the paperwork of how they’ll spend the money, YMCA CEO Mark LaFortune said.

“It’s all going to be used for infrastructure,” he said. “The majority of that infrastructure will be directly connected to child care because our community desperately needs it.”

The Y has a potential to receive another $1.9 million grant because the borough facility was chosen as one of the benefactors of U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, who earmarked federal grants for fiscal year 2023 that still await passage, LaFortune said. Y officials know their grant survived the first round and will find out for sure by early next year, he noted.

The Y recently held its first awards dinner since 2019, drawing a crowd of about hundred guests to the Crystal Room, where the Y honored employees and volunteers after announcing its accomplishments.

Last year, the Y had more than 100 volunteers, 182 donors and served at least 400 youth in its child care program alone, which includes summer camp and preschool, LaFortune said.

“Since 2019, we had an 85% growth in membership since pre-pandemic numbers,” he said.

YMCA Director of Operations Sherri Beck and LaFortune thanked and praised Greater Waterbury YMCA CEO Jim O’Rourke for his support in 2019.

The Y gave the Jeffrey Witherwax Community Leadership Award to Drew International and the Rotary Club, both of Naugatuck. The award recognizes local businesses and their employees for their support of the Y and the community.

“So Drew International, you guys haven’t been in the community very long, however, you guys sure have made quite the splash and I’m using that word because we’re a YMCA; we have a swimming pool,” LaFortune said. “You guys took no time at all to really start putting yourself out into the community to start making a difference.”

LaFortune said Drew International in 2020 helped children have an unforgettable summer by providing them a bounce house, T-shirts, music and food.

When the Y looked to get its infant toddler facility furnished, the Rotary Club funded the room’s furniture, he said.

“They (Rotary Club) do things all over our community and they are making an impact,” LaFortune said.

The Y honored Juan Figueroa with the Mary Elizabeth Mannweiler Employee of the Year Award. Figueroa is the person everybody calls upon when they need something, LaFortune said.

“Juan really embodies everything that YMCA is all about. Caring, honesty, respect, responsibility and the things that he does for our Y really help us stay together and make sure we can do the work that we do,” LaFortune said.

The Y gave its Robert Whittemore – Unsung Hero Award to the Mahoney Family.

Beck and Jill Mahoney both spent a lot of time volunteering and raising their children at the Y.

“What came out of that for our children was they learned how to give back to the community because children learn what they live and the Mahoney family did exactly that,” Beck said. “Jill set the tone that that’s what we do — we give back to our community and her children are all doing that.”

The Y honored Laure Rogers with the Fedrick Zonino Memorial Volunteer Award. This is given to an individual whose spirit of volunteerism and unselfish efforts are devoted to the values and missions of the Y.

“The YMCA is very near and dear to Laurie. She truly believes in Y’s mission and volunteering allows her to give back to the community in many ways,” Beck said.

The Y presented its final award to Kathy Mucha for Member of the Year.

“Her passion for the Y is awesome,” Beck said, “because she just shares it with everyone and she encourages everyone to come back.”