News You Need To Know

Joan Vitali Set to Retire

Every morning, Joan Vitali whizzes past the Westport Weston Family Y‘s Member Services Desk, arms full of ‘stuff,’ reports Membership Coordinator Midge Deverin in our "Who, What, When -- and Y' blog. There are bags of food and beverage from Trader Joe’s, Stew Leonard’s; sometimes there are props, posters, flowers, various items to bring for meetings and special events. But no matter what the occasion, Joan is always prepared and organized and … smiling.

Joan first came to our Y in November 2005 in the newly created position of Administrative Assistant to the incoming CEO, Helene Weir. After Helene left in 2007, Joan continued on, working as new CEO Rob Reeves’ ‘right hand.’

She came to this job with 30-plus years’ experience in the corporate world as support staff to top administration. Joan has kept up with the rapidly changing technology field. “Since I joined the Y, good technology has defined who we are and elevated our offerings and registration to make ease of information commonplace.”

During the nine years Joan has been here, we have witnessed the growth of her grandchildren (evidenced on Joan’s bulletin board above her desk) and lived vicariously through the photos of her various skiing and vacation trips with her daughter, son and grandkids.

In Joan’s life outside of the Y (when she is not working at her desk or taking Board Meeting minutes or organizing Y events and party planning) she is a life member of the American Legion Frank C. Godfrey Post 12 in Norwalk and actively supports the Veterans Hospital in New Haven.

Joan lives in a home dating back to the early 1900s. It is chock full of antiques, collections of framed silhouettes, vintage shoe forms, Depression glass, much that Joan has selected from flea markets and tag sales all over the country. Her mantra, “it’s the thrill of the hunt,” has resulted in some astounding finds.

And, of course, there’s Gino, her devoted husband of 50 years and her travel companion for their upcoming trip to Italy later this year.

Recently, Joan made the announcement that she is retiring. Her last day will be Good Friday, April 18. “It’s been said that one knows when it’s time to retire, and that time has come for me.” But, for the rest of us here who not only like and respect Joan as a co-worker, but LOVE her as a person, it is not a happy day!

“With one week to go before I retire, I want to thank our whole staff for the friendship, support and good vibes accorded to me for almost nine years,” says Joan. “I am privileged to have worked with such good people whose daily mission has been to make our members feel welcome and valued. You have all succeeded on the highest level and your teamwork and dedication will only serve to enhance the experience our new Y will offer.

“There are still so many things that I would like to do, and now I will have time to explore them,” she adds. “And, I am blessed with a wonderful family that will see to it that I do just that. I consider all of you a part of my family and will miss you greatly. Thank you all for making a difference in my life!”

And we, in turn, thank YOU for your everlasting impression in all OUR lives! Collectively, we wish you the happiest retirement and long, healthy life. We’ll keep a locker reserved for you in our new Y.

Y Gymnasts Shine at State Meet

More great news from our Y's Gymnastics Program! Just days after Y leaders announced that we will relocate our Gymnastic Center to 145 Main St. in Norwalk, the Y gymnasts headed to Southington to compete in the State YMCA Championships.

Among the highlights, our the Level 5 gymnasts took home the 4th place team trophy; and our Level 7 gymnasts also finished 4th, with Margaret West (below, far right), placing first All Around.

Our Level 3 gymnasts won third-place team honors, with Sarah Moss, (second photo, center) claiming first place All Around at the Y championships.

Level 7 gymnasts apr 2014Starting in June, the Y’s Gymnastics Program will occupy a specially designed, 6,500 sq. ft. space within the 47,000 sq. ft. multi-tenant building at 145 Main Street, owned by Stanley M. Seligson Properties.

The Y’s new Gymnastic Center will serve as the temporary new home of the Y’s award-winning Gymnastics Program, which offers classes and activities for all ages and abilities, from toddlers through high school, including competitive teams for gymnasts Level 3-8 in addition to the internationally ranked Showtime Exhibition Team.

“We are absolutely thrilled with this new space provided to us by Seligson Properties and would also like to thank the Norwalk YMCA and Wilton Family Y for their help in allowing us to make a seamless transition from our facility in downtown Westport to Norwalk,” said Rob Reeves, Family Y CEO.
Level 3 gymnasts apr 2014
“We’re also grateful for all the support we’re receiving from Y gymnastic families to help us create a place where our children will be able to train on excellent equipment, with more space than the currently have, and with the outstanding instruction and inspiration that Director Sally Silverstein and her coaches have provided for nearly 30 years.”

The Y’s new Gymnastic Center will provide an additional 2,500 sq. ft. than the current facility. Along with a Tumble Track and the addition of new equipment in the uneven bar and balance beam area, the new Center will now be able to provide training for elite level gymnasts.

The Y will open the first stage of its modern new Y, a 54,000 sq. ft. facility, this fall at its Mahackeno campus in northwest Westport at Exit 41 of the Merritt Parkway. Future plans, already approved by local and state agencies, include a Gymnastic Center as part of a 102,000 sq. ft. facility after completion of all building stages.

For more information about the Y’s Gymnastics program and its new Gymnastic Center at 145 Main St. in Norwalk, please contact Sally Silverstein; 203-226-8981, ext. 118, or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). To support the build-out and to view a list of sponsorship opportunities, please click here.



Opening Gala Dinner Set for Oct. 11

There is much work (and excitement) in the months ahead as the Westport Weston Family Y completes the task of Building What Matters – our modern new facility at the Y’s 32-acre Mahackeno campus just north of downtown Westport. The good news is that we remain on schedule for our opening early next fall, likely in September. And with the complex task of building and outfitting our fully equipped, 54,000 sq. ft. facility now 75 percent complete, we’re able to set our sights on Celebrating What Matters: On Saturday, October 11, Y staff and volunteers will host a Gala Celebration, inside our new Y in our spacious new Gymnasium.

The Celebration begins at 5 pm, when our master of ceremonies, actor James Naughton, opens bidding for a silent auction featuring dozens of beautiful items and extraordinary opportunities (think spa packages and VIP Broadway tickets). Dinner, catered by Ridgefield Prime, will be served at 7:30 pm and followed by a Live Auction, (think luxurious travel with Tauck World Discovery).

We invite Y members and supporters to join us for this memorable, historic occasion. Tickets are available beginning at $250 a seat, along with a variety of table sponsorship opportunities, each with special benefits ranging from special recognition at the Gala to chauffeur service to and from the celebration.

“Our Gala promises to be a moment where we reflect on what we’ve accomplished and all that our new Y will allow us to do for the next 90 years,” says Rob Reeves, Family Y CEO. “It’s an evening to express our gratitude to the philanthropic leaders who have inspired us, and a night to celebrate our continuing cause of strengthening our community. After so many years of hard work, it will be quite a party!”

Mark your calendars for Saturday, Oct. 11 with a big, bold Y – and for further information or to book your seat or table, please contact Susie Haydon, Development Associate, at 203-226-8981, or via .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

For more information about the Y’s new, 54,000 sq. ft. facility opening in September, please visit this page. To discuss membership benefits, please contact Brian Marazzi, Membership & Marketing Director, at 203-226-8981 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

A Time to Give Back to Community

National Volunteer Week is April 6-12, 2014 – a great time to take action and discover opportunities to give back and make a difference in your community. During National Volunteer Week, the Westport Weston Family Y joins the nation in encouraging individuals to seek ways to give back, while honoring those who dedicate themselves to helping strengthen communities.

“At the Y, volunteers play such a key role by supporting the vital programs and services we provide to individuals and families. We see firsthand how giving back impacts not only the community, but the volunteer involved,” said Rob Reeves, Family Y CEO. “In fact, a recent Gallup poll showed that nine out of 10 people said they receive an emotional boost from doing kind things for other people. When activated, that kind of emotional boost from contributing to the community goes from something you do to a part of who you are.”

Wolgast LavielleAs one of the leading nonprofits and volunteer organizations in the country, the Y offers individuals and families opportunities to volunteer in ways that let them connect and develop meaningful relationships, all while making an impact in communities they care about.

As a charity, YMCAs across Connecticut exist to strengthen their communities and every day we work with thousands of men, women and children to ensure that everyone, regardless of age, in-come or background has the opportunity to learn, grown and thrive. (Pictured at right is Y Trustee Chair Pete Wolgast, receiving a proclamation from State Representative Gail Lavielle in December 2013 as he was honored with the AARP Senior Silver Star of the Year Award for his many contributions to our community.)

The Connecticut Alliance of YMCAs is comprised of 23 YMCAs, each volunteer led, and a powerful advocate of the needs of children, families and individuals throughout the Constitution State. In 2013, our Ys served 229,000 members, hosted 520 community-wide events and gave back a total of $17.4 million in financial assistance and community support.

Here at the Westport Weston Family Y, local volunteers donated more than 8,000 hours of their time and talent in 2013. Their help allows our Y to continue to fulfill its mission to develop and nurture our youth, promote healthy living for all and foster a sense of social responsibility throughout the communities we have served for the past 90 years.

National Volunteer Week is a great time to get involved. Here are five ways individuals can take an active role at the Y and in their community:

1. Join a special committee that matches your skills or interests.
2. Coach a sports team, teach a class or ask about other ways to get involved with a program of your interest.
3. Help with fundraising efforts to ensure that essential programs and services are accessible to everyone in need.
4. Get involved with a mentoring or tutoring program to help motivate and encourage youth to reach their potential.
5. Inspire others to find ways they, too, can give back to the community.


To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the Westport Weston Family Y, contact Rob Reeves at 203-226-8981, ext. 131 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Water Rat Y National Highlights

For 11 young Water Rat swimmers, the opportunity to compete in a national championship is the reward for untold hours of training, followed by stellar performances in high-pressure qualifying meets. It’s a test of skill and determination, against hundreds of other top-ranked swimmers from across the country. It’s a chance to make your teammates, family and local community proud.

The Water Rats did all that, and more, at the 2014 YMCA Short Course National Championship, held Apr. 1-4, at the Greensboro Aquatics Center in Greensboro, N.C.

Overall, the Westport Weston Family Y Water Rat Swim Team finished 11th out of 75 teams, with the Men's Team placing 6th. That's a significant improvement over last year's results, when the men finished in 34th place. It was the greatest year-over-year improvement for any team swimming at the meet this year.

“We had a tremendous meet in Greensboro,” says Ellen Johnston, Head Coach of the 200-member Water Rat Swim Team. “When the teams you are competing against have two to three times the number of swimmers on their squads, our results are extremely impressive.”

“The team has been focused on this meet since 2013, and everything throughout the year helped prepare us to step and be a strong force,” adds Johnston, who, along with Assistant Coach Frisk Driscoll, accompanied the young swimmers on the 6-day trip to Y Nationals.
Sarah Grinalds
Johnston also commented on the squad’s dynamics: “Our team was comprised of 10 young men and one woman, Sarah Grinalds, who, at 13, also happened to be one of the youngest swimmers in the meet. Sarah (right) held her own and stepped up swimming more like a seasoned veteran than a rookie, almost making the finals in the 100 Freestyle with another personal best. The support each swimmer gave to their teammates was impressive and is also an important aspect of our success.”

Individual swimmers scoring points for the Water Rats at Y Nationals:

• Jonathan Blansfield placed 2nd in the 500 Freestyle, 2nd in the 1000 Freestyle, and 9th in the 1650 Freestyle.

• Bryce Keblish placed 3rd in the 100 Butterfly, 7th in the 200 Freestyle, 10th in the 200 Individual Medley, and 12th in the 100 Breaststroke.

• Tommy Gannon placed 13th in the 200 Breaststroke.

• Daniel Williams placed 14th in the 1650 Freestyle and 16th in the 1000 Freestyle.

The Water Rat relay teams excelled during the meet, contributing significantly to the team's point totals.

The team of Keblish, Gannon, Jake Hoin and Justin Summers placed 6th in the 200 Freestyle Relay, while the team of John Whiteside, Gannon, Keblish and Summers finished 6th in the 200 Yard Medley Relay after having to "swim off" against a team from South Carolina who they were tied with after the preliminary heats to qualify for the championship final.

In the 400 Yard Medley Relay, Whiteside, Gannon, Keblish and Summers finished 10th, while the 400 Freestyle relay team of Keblish, Gannon, Hoin and Summers brought the Water Rats a 10th place finish as well. The 800 Freestyle Relay team of Keblish, Blansfield, Gannon and Summers swam to a 12th place finish.

The Water Rat Swim Team is a year-round, nationally recognized competitive swim program organized and operated by the Aquatics Department of the Westport Weston Family Y. The team competes in Y competition at the local level through dual meets and at the state and national level.

The team is also a registered USA Swimming Team sanctioned by Connecticut Swimming, Inc. and competes in USA competitive swimming at the local, regional, state, zone and national level. Open tryouts for new swimmers are held every September.

For more information about the Water Rats, please visit www.westporty.org/wrats, or contact Ellen Johnston at 203-226-8981 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Pictured below are the Y "Nat Rats": front row (l to r) Justin Summers, Chris Mombello, Ethan Hunter, Michael Deluca; middle row Jake Hoin, Sarah Grinalds, Jonathan Blansfield, John Whiteside, Head Coach Ellen Johnston; back row Tommy Gannon, Bryce Keblish, Daniel Williams, and Assistant Coach Frisk Driscoll.

2014 Y Nat Rats


Westport Bus Study Meeting, Apr. 9

Help our community find the best way forward for local bus service, including possible routes to and from the new Westport Weston Family Y, by attending the Westport Bus Study Public Meeting, Wednesday, Apr. 9, 7:30-9:30 pm in the Town Hall Auditorium at 110 Myrtle Ave. in Westport.

Input from the public is critical to considering increasing the frequency of existing routes or adding any additional routes, given that the cost to add a local bus route will be upwards of $165,000 annually. Typically any revenues from fares will only offset about 30% of the cost.

“This meeting provides a useful forum for learning more about our public transit needs, current and future, and in particular for Y members to show their support for considering ways to increase access to our new facility for all, from school-age children to seniors,” says Rob Reeves, Family Y CEO.

Below is a list of current services provided by the Westport Transit District, as profiled on the Citizens’ Transit Committee page on the Town’s website. The Committee works in cooperation with the Transit District directors, the Westport Police Department, other town bodies, and outside agencies, including the South Western Regional Planning Agency. Its role is to evaluate Westport’s bus transit system, including but not limited to routes, usage, cost, and related matters and make recommendations to improve efficiency, service, and value to stakeholders. (Westport transportation services are provided through an arrangement with the Norwalk Transit District.)

RIDE THE BUS TO THE TRAIN!

You’re a commuter. With seven routes serving our two train stations, Saugatuck and Greens Farms, we’ve got a trip for you. Click here to find the schedule that’s just right.

YOU’RE A STUDENT WITH AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES

You’re a student with a full schedule. And you’re participating in after school activities, or going to the “Y.” Click here to find a route and a schedule designed with you in mind!

YOU NEED TO GET INTO WESTPORT FROM ONE OF OUR NEIGHBORING TOWNS

The Coastal Link bus travels along the Route 1 corridor through Norwalk, Westport, Fairfield, Bridgeport, Stratford and Milford — seven days a week! Click here to see the schedule and route!

YOU’VE GOT SPECIAL NEEDS AND NEED INDIVIDUALIZED SERVICE

Westport Door-to-Door is the transportation service within the Town of Westport required by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Click here to find out more!

Bus Study Meeting

NEWS: New Home for Y Gymnastics

The Westport Weston Family Y is pleased to announce that it will relocate its Gymnastic Center to 145 Main St. in Norwalk, CT. The Y’s Gymnastics Program will occupy a specially designed, 6,500 sq. ft. space within the 47,000 sq. ft. multi-tenant building, owned by Stanley M. Seligson Properties.

Scheduled to open in June, the Y’s new Gymnastic Center will serve as the temporary new home of the Y’s award-winning Gymnastics Program, which offers classes and activities for all ages and abilities, from toddlers through high school, including competitive teams for gymnasts Level 3-8 in addition to the internationally ranked Showtime Exhibition Team.

“We are absolutely thrilled with this new space provided to us by Seligson Properties and would also like to thank the Norwalk YMCA and Wilton Family Y for their help in allowing us to make a seamless transition from our facility in downtown Westport to Norwalk,” said Rob Reeves, Family Y CEO.

“We’re also grateful for all the support we’re receiving from Y gymnastic families to help us create a place where our children will be able to train on excellent equipment, with more space than the currently have, and with the outstanding instruction and inspiration that Director Sally Silverstein and her coaches have provided for nearly 30 years.”

Bob McDowell, CEO of the Norwalk YMCA and the Wilton Family Y, said, “We are very excited to be bringing more YMCA youth programs into the Norwalk community. Gymnastics is a healthy, dynamic sport for young people to become engaged in that develops skills and teamwork, and we are happy to be working together with the Westport Weston Family Y to make this new Center possible. Our Ys are open to everyone and dedicated to healthy living, youth development and social responsibility - we strive to serve as many families as we can who live in all of our towns.”

Michael G. Serrao, Vice President of Stanley M. Seligson Properties, added “We are very pleased to welcome the YMCA to our 145 Main Street property. With its high ceilings, ample parking, and conveniently located near US-1 and the Route 7 connector, this will make a great new home for the Y’s Gymnastic Center.”

The Y’s new Gymnastic Center will provide an additional 2,500 sq. ft. than the current facility. Along with a Tumble Track and the addition of new equipment in the uneven bar and balance beam area, the new Center will now be able to provide training for elite level gymnasts.

The Westport Weston Family Y will open the first stage of its modern new Y, a 54,000 sq. ft. facility, this fall at its Mahackeno campus in northwest Westport at Exit 41 of the Merritt Parkway. Future plans, already approved by local and state agencies, include a Gymnastic Center as part of a 102,000 sq. ft. facility after completion of all building stages.

For more information about the Westport Weston Family Y’s Gymnastics program and its new Gymnastic Center at 145 Main St. in Norwalk, please contact Sally Silverstein; 203-226-8981, ext. 118, or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Picture below is recent photo of the Family Y’s Advanced Showtime Team, which has been invited to participate in America's Independence Day Parade, July 4th in Washington, DC – quite an honor!

Advanced Gymnastics Team 2014

Sign Up Today for Spring!

Who's ready for Spring? We are! Registration for the Family Y's Spring Session of new classes and programs continues this week for all Y Members. Our 36-page Spring 2014 Program Brochure is a wonderful showcase for all the new classes, programs and special activities we'll be offering in our 12-week Spring Session, starting this week and continuing into June.

Click on the link above to flip through the colorful brochure online, or pick up a copy at our Membership Services Desk on your next visit to our Y. And here's the direct link to our online registration system.

Spring 2014 brochure cover

Water Rats Compete in Elite Meets

Two groups of Water Rat swimmers from the Westport Weston Family Y are competing in elite post-season championship meets. On Sunday, 11 Water Rats, accompanied by Head Coach Ellen Johnston and Assistant Coach Frisk Driscoll, will travel to Greensboro, N.C., to compete in the 2014 YMCA Short Course National Championship.

The Water Rats who have qualified for this prestigious meet are (back row, l to r) Justin Summers, Daniel Williams, Jake Hoin, Jonathan Blansfield, Michael DeLuca, Chris Mombello; (front row) John Whiteside, Tommy Gannon, Sarah Grinalds, Bryce Keblish, Ethan Hunter.
2014 Y nats team
The national level meet, for swimmers ages 12 to 21, kicks off on Monday with a Welcome Party for YMCA athletes featuring appearances by three U.S. Olympians, including Tyler Clary, who won gold in the 200-meter backstroke at the 2012 Summer Olympics. The competition begins Tuesday, Apr. 1, and continues through Friday, Apr. 4. For more information and results, please visit www.ymcaswimminganddiving.org.

“We have a tremendous group representing the Y at this year’s YMCA National Swimming Championships,” says Ellen Johnston. “The swimmers are excited and chomping at the bit to get to Greensboro for some racing. Go WRATS!”

Seven Water Rats, ages 12 and under, are already on the scene at the Eastern Zone All Star Meet in Webster, N.Y., taking place March 27-29. Pictured with coaches Mark Sedlak and Betsy Matheney (l to r) are Mia Fraas, Marissa Healy, Andrew Yu, Dashiell Hunter, Sean Rogers, John McNab and Nathan Wang.

For more information about the Y’s Water Rat team, please visit www.westporty.org/wrats.
2014 zones team

Y Mourns Passing of Dr. Saul Scherzer

Our Y family is deeply saddened to hear of the sudden passing on Monday, March 24, of Dr. Saul Scherzer. Our condolences to his wife, Leah, and immediate family, and to all whose lives he touched, both in his professional life, his local community and here at the Westport Weston Family Y.

Dr. Saul, as he was known and loved by all at the Y, was a most avid Y member and highly respected swim instructor, specializing in teaching adult beginners. A service will be held on Thursday, March 27, at 11 am at Collins Funeral Home in Norwalk. Please refer to www.collins-funeral.com for directions and more information. To read his obituary, please click on this link.

Those of us who knew Dr. Saul would know he’d want to speak for himself at this point, and we will let him tell his Y story in his own words, as recounted in the “Y We Matter” profile that we proudly posted on our walls two years ago:

Dr. Saul and Bob Meadows“Over the past 34 years, I have swam more than 10,000 miles at the Family Y. I swam with the Y Masters for 20 years, did the Point-to-Point swim 22 times, and averaged 1.5 miles a day, either five or six days a week.

“I also teach adult swimming at the Y because it is an essential safety factor, and the sport reduces anxiety and stress. For me, getting to the Y is a high priority.”
(at right, Dr. Saul with his fellow lap swimmer Bob Meadows, at the 2011 Y Ambassadors luncheon.)

Dr. Saul (b. 1937) credited the Y and swimming for adding years to his life. He said, “I had a heart condition, blocked arteries. My cardiologist said that swimming built up my capillaries to keep my heart effective…”

That big, gruff heart is now still. Our loss of a friend and a skilled and beloved swim instructor will be hard to fill.

We were fortunate to have had Dr. Saul’s help in preparing an article about our Y’s swim instruction programs last summer. The title: “Afraid of the Water? The Family Y Has Just the Rx – ‘Dr. Saul.’” Allow us to share a portion, and we urge you to read the complete article:

Dr. Saul had been teaching others to swim since he was a member of his high school swim team in the Bronx in the 1950s and realized that some of his classmates didn’t even know how. “It’s foolish that someone doesn’t know how to swim,” he’ll tell you.

Dr. Saul coaches senior executives worldwide in how to improve their interpersonal skills. “In the business world, I’m somewhat patient, but teaching swimming requires even more patience,” he says. “I see teaching swimming as something different from my professional life. Teaching swimming is not something one does for money. It gives you a chance to get people to feel good about themselves, to reduce stress and anxiety, to achieve something of great value to them, personally.”

“A number of adults that I’ve taught to swim are afraid to even put their foot in the water,” he says, “Just to get them to stand in the water is an accomplishment.”

Dr. Saul swim lesson“Dr. Saul is a very good instructor,” says Dr. Ali Hemdan, who has been taking lessons for the past year. “He has a deep understanding of people; he’s very funny, very smart and fun to be around. He asks you whether you’re comfortable and then adjusts his lesson plan. He listens. He pushes you, but he also knows when to stop if he thinks you’re going too far.” (at right, Dr. Saul with swim student Moiaz Daya last summer.)

And though he’s spent a large part of his life in the water swimming and teaching, Dr. Saul is reluctant to take a bow, saying only, “It’s what the Y does. I’m just the instrument.”


“Saul had a big heart and loved teaching others to swim,” said Nicole Turechek, Family Y Aquatic Director. “Every day I would get a phone call or email from Saul telling me how his lessons were going and the improvement each student was making. He will be missed at the Y and certainly by his students.”

A longtime Westport resident and Y member since 1977, Saul Scherzer was truly one of our Family Y’s greatest Ambassadors. Please stop by our Membership Services Desk to see his “Y We Matter” poster and to pay tribute. His family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his honor to our Y’s “Building What Matters” campaign to fund and construct our new Y facility at Mahackeno. (Please click here for our online Giving site.)

Dr. Saul, we will miss you. We thank you for all that you did over so many years to help others. We will remember you.

Dr. Saul Y We Matter