Ethan Kehoe can’t stop checking his cell phone.
The chief development officer for the Greater Providence YMCA can’t help from checking his cell phone for updates on the Bayside YMCA community fund-raising challenge, a 12-week program designed to raise $500,000 for the Y’s renovation project.
Earlier in the day on Thursday, April 4, Mr. Kehoe checked his phone and discovered two new “gifts” from community members. The donations pushed the total number of gifts to 23, equaling $112,000. People from all across the East Bay have a little more than three weeks remaining to raise $138,000 before the May 1 deadline. If they hit the $250,000 mark by that date, a separate group of donors will match the funds.
“We’ve got a couple things planned for the final weeks. It will be a big finish … we’re going to pull out all the stops. I’m very, very confident, extremely confident,” Mr. Kehoe said when asked if he thought the challenge would be met. “There is no way that this community doesn’t respond to this challenge.”
YMCA officials and volunteers have already raised nearly all of the $10 million needed for the expansive renovation, and many have been pleased to see the progress made during the first few months of construction. Officials said the fund-raising task is made a bit easier by the fact that work is progressing well.
The Collis Aquatic Center dwarfs the previous pool YMCA members had grown accustomed to. The center includes an eight lane pool — six lap lanes and a two-lane family swim area. There is a large deck surrounding the pool, a viewing area for folks outside the pool, and three brand new locker rooms — a women’s, men’s and a family/special needs locker room. As of last week, the major construction was complete and workers were tiling the floor and bathroom stalls.
One floor below the locker rooms is “the guts” of the new aquatic center. In one room stands a hulking filtration unit. All water from the indoor and outdoor pools will run through the unit, which Mr. Kehoe described as something straight out of a Jules Verne novel. The water will also run through a second, UV filtration system, all but ending water quality issues experienced in the old pool. The new water-heating system is also located in the filter room.
One room over is more “guts” — two huge water heaters for the showers and a mammoth new furnace.
Bayside YMCA Executive Director Joe Martino said the new infrastructure has often been overshadowed by the attractive new pool and the Hall Family Center which will include a new childcare facility and gathering areas. But Mr. Martino said the electrical, plumbing and other infrastructure work is equally as important and also paves the way for the second phase of improvements at the YMCA.
“This is all in place now as we roll into Phase Two,” Mr. Martino said. The second phase of renovations includes a new gymnasium and wellness center, and will cost approximately $3 million.
Open to all
Mr. Martino offered a tour of the new facility recently and paused while standing near a gaping three-story hole inside the new building. Mr. Martino smiled a bit when describing how the space will be home to an elevator. The old Bayside YMCA’s lower level was not handicap accessible, but that will change with the completion of the renovated facility.
“I bet we turned away 25 to 30 people each year, people who made their way to the front desk” but could not navigate the stairs to the lower level wellness center. Mr. Martino said it was upsetting to see people wanting to exercise forced to go elsewhere because of the old building’s deficiencies.
Mr. Kehoe said he has seen a recent upswing in the fund-raising challenge, which, he said, is often the case. “We’ve received 23 gifts, and in the last seven days we’ve received half of them,” he said. “Someone just stopped by and dropped off a $10,000 check the other day.”
Are you up to the challenge?
Volunteers at the Bayside YMCA are looking for anyone interested in participating in the community fund-raising challenge. A minimum pledge of $2,500 can be made by individuals or groups of people — the pledge can be spread out into five annual payments of $500. For more information or to donate, call Joe Martino at 245-2444.