Bayside YMCA celebrates new family, aquatic centers

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At a dedication ceremony of the newly renovated Bayside YMCA on Thursday, June 27, the site was called a safe haven and a hub of the community, and for the more than 100 who attended the event, it was evident that spirit would continue for years to come.

“In 1963, a group of people had an aspiration to have a community Y,” said Jim Berson, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Providence. “In 2004, a group of people started working on a capital campaign and never gave up.”

The dedication of the Hall Family Center and the Collis Aquatic Center was a formal unveiling of the new state-of-the-art pool, locker rooms and welcome center.

Joe Martino, executive director at the facility, said the fund-raising efforts were led by a dream team of volunteers that together raised more than $6 million. 

“To do a project like this you need a team. It’s more than just raising money. It’s building relationships and friendships. Without the leadership and unselfishness of our co-chair people, Brad and Dory Faxon, we wouldn’t be here today,” he said.

Mr. and Mrs. Faxon led the committee with the help of Pete and Patty Deal, Gloria Hall, Betsy Schwengel, Ellen and Charlie Collis, and a team that worked tirelessly to get Phase One of the renovation project complete. (A $3 million Phase Two will include a new gym and wellness center.)

RI Governor Lincoln Chafee was on hand for the dedication ceremony. His father, the late John Chafee, actually dedicated the first YMCA building on West Street.

“The YMCA offers a safe environment, a sense of community for the East Bay,” the governor said.

Regina Raffa was at the ceremony, just months after retiring from 35 years working at Bayside, and was very happy to be there.

“It’s unbelievable. This started 12 years ago and to see it actually happening and how beautiful it is, it’s just amazing. I retired knowing this was actually going to happen and when I walked in the building it didn’t feel like the old Bayside YMCA anymore. It is something to be proud of,” she said.

After the ceremony, officials offered tours of the renovated facility.

— By Joan D. Warren

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