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Letter: Don't Let the Y Disappear in Westport

As an 11-year resident of Westport and the recently appointed Executive Director and President of the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce, I am familiar with the many services that the Westport Weston Family Y provides on behalf of our community. As a parent of a Family Y Water Rat swimmer and someone who swims four times a week at the Family Y’s pool, I am also very much aware of the benefits of a Family Y membership to those who live and/or work in Westport and Weston.

So close your eyes, and just imagine the town of Westport without our outstanding, nationally recognized school system. Or, try to imagine not having access to the many wonderful amenities that have blessed this town with opportunities to gather with friends, family and colleagues to relax, learn and recreate. Compo Beach, Longshore, Levitt Pavilion, Westport Art Center, Westport Historical Society, Westport Public Library and the Westport Country Playhouse are all examples of what makes Westport so rich and unique.

Keep your eyes closed, and just imagine what our town would be like without the Westport Weston Family Y:

  • Where would you, your child or grandchild learn to swim, taught by experienced instructors whose job it is to both inspire and nurture the love of the water for we who live in a water community?
  • Where would so many senior members of our community be able to exercise in a warm-water therapeutic pool or participate in senior-specific exercise programs?
  • Where would Westport and Weston families identified as “in need” by our towns’ social services departments receive critical programs and services at significantly reduced rates or at no cost at all?
  • Where would so many of our towns’ children enjoy summer day camp without the financial support from the Westport Weston Family Y?
  • Where would the two dozen non-profit organizations that rely on the Family Y to provide swim and gym time, specialized programming and meeting spaces go?
  • Where would the 150 full and part-time employees of Westport’s fourth-largest employer work in this economy?
  • Where would you go for shelter and a hot shower when the power goes out, as it has so many times recently?

The Westport Weston Family Y, regardless of where it is situated, provides all of the above to our community and more.

The passion and energy that surrounded the “where do we build the Y?” discussion is a testament to the number of Westport citizens that rely on the Y’s services.

Did you know that the Westport Weston Family Y, although a member of an international community of YMCAs, is a non-profit, self-funded, locally run organization? For the past 89 years, it has been filling the gaps in Westport, helping out in ways no other organization can.

And now, the Y needs your help in raising the final dollars to begin its construction of the new Y at its Camp Mahackeno location.

I ask you to consider supporting this fundraising effort. Maybe you are already a member? Maybe you grew up going to your local YMCA as a child? Maybe you never had the opportunity or reason to join or become involved in a YMCA?

Regardless of your personal connection with the Y, please recognize that the YMCA has touched you in many ways that you may never know about. You may not notice how today, but you would certainly feel the impact in Westport without the Y tomorrow. We as a community need to understand both the benefits and the value that the Westport Weston Family Y provides to our town.

Keep a cornerstone of our community alive, for current and future generations  - Isn’t that what Westport is all about?

Lisa Parrelli Gray

Executive Director, President

Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce

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