Grant lets YMCA turn to home delivery

By Jennifer Kovalich, Enterprise staff writer
The Enterprise
September 2005

BROCKTON - For more than a century, the Old Colony YMCA has provided recreation and enrichment activities for city youths who come to its center on Main Street.  Now, thanks to a three-year $640,000 grant from an anonymous Boston donor, the Y for the first time will bring its programs to the boys and girls.

The YMCA will use the money - its largest award ever - to start homework, arts, computer and recreation programs at four Brockton Housing Authority developments. The programs will serve more than 500 boys and girls.

"There's really a wealth of things we have at the Y that we can export to these sites," said Mike Boyle, a teen director at the Y for the past five years and the program director for the new "Youth Focus" initiative.

Officials from the Y and housing authority jointly announced the grant Wednesday morning at Y headquarters at 320 Main St.

The donor wishes to remain anonymous but has ties to the Brockton Old Colony YMCA, said Vincent Marturano, the agency's president and chief executive officer.

"We have an opportunity to bring in additional resources and do some wonderful things," Marturano said.

The grant, which has a five-year, $795,000 potential, will allow the Y and Housing Authority to begin "Youth Focus" programs at four complexes - Crescent Court on Crescent Street, Golden Circle on Warren Avenue, Hillside Village on Hill Street and Roosevelt Heights on Richmond Street. The programs will begin on Sept. 15 and run from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Children will receive homework help, take part in mentoring groups and participate in computer, arts and crafts, sports leagues and health and fitness sessions. They will eventually take field trips as well. Catherine DeTerra, vice president of grants development for the Y, said the program will allow the Y to increase the number of children it reaches.

"Youth Focus" will dovetail with programs the Y runs through a state Department of Education grant, she said. "This is something we would have wanted to do," DeTerra said.

"Youth Focus" will also continue a longstanding relationship the YMCA has had with the Brockton Housing Authority.

"It was like manna from heaven," Richard Sergi, executive director of the Brockton Housing Authority, said about the grant.

Marturano said the donor wishes to remain anonymous to keep the focus on the programs, not where the money came from.  The grant will provide $250,000 for the programs' first year, $220,000 in the second and $170,000 in the third.  Given the sliding scale of the grant award, the Y will continue to seek other sources of funding in the declining years of the grant to continue full support of all the programs.

In addition to Boyle being named program director, the grant calls for hiring four site coordinators, one for each development.  Vivian Rene, director of the Y's central division, said the program will help the children develop self- confidence and self-worth through their achievements.

DeTerra said the programs will also be designed to enhance the children's sense of community. "These kids are going to be excited to have these services delivered to them"

The Old Colony YMCA was established in Brockton in 1887, with the first facility constructed in 1901. The agency has divisions in Brockton, East Bridgewater, Easton, Middleboro and Taunton. A Plymouth division offers child care and a summer camp. In all, the Y runs four summer camps and more than 40 child care sites, and a number of state-funded programs for at-risk youth.

The Y serves more than 85,000 individuals each year, with 70 percent of them under age 17.

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