Bayside YMCA meets fund-raising challenge

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The community was up to the challenge.

The Bayside YMCA recently succeeded in raising $500,000 for the new facility renovation project, which includes a new aquatic center and family center. Fifty-eight donors each contributed at least $2,500, and a group of anonymous benefactors matched the pledges during the Community Fund-raising Challenge.

The challenge started in late March — the YMCA had secured a group of people who said that if the community could donate $250,000 by a May 1 deadline, they would double the figure. All the money would be used to pay for the renovation work at the West Street facility.

By the middle of April, 23 people had pledged a total of $112,000. That number continued to grow, but when the May 1 deadline approached, officials realized they needed more time. YMCA leadership spoke with the benefactors who agreed to extend the deadline to June 1, and on May 31 the group officially surpassed the $250,000 mark.

Ethan Kehoe, the chief development officer for the Greater Providence YMCA, said that volunteers deserve a lot of the credit for helping the challenge succeed.

"Dory and Brad Faxon, Betsy Schwengel, Pete Deal, Dick Glenn, Christine Barton and Tom Barry, all of Barrington — they were committed, positive and unfailingly focused on success as they saw their work as benefiting generations of East Bay kids and families," Mr. Kehoe wrote in a recent e-mail.

YMCA officials and volunteers have raised nearly all of the $10 million needed for the expansive renovation. 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.

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. 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.

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