Blakely Goodwin of Topsham, left, and Susan Whorff of Brunswick play racquetball at the Landing Y in Brunswick Monday. (Darcie Moore / The Times Record)

BATH — The Bath Area Family YMCA is launching a $2.5 million fundraising campaign that will allow the nonprofit to upgrade its nearly 20-year-old building in Bath and to purchase the newer Landing Y building it leases in Brunswick.

About $500,000 will go toward locker room renovations, upgrades to the wellness studios and improved parking at the Bath facility. The remaining $2 million will allow the organization to purchase and renovate the Landing Y. 

Executive Director Sabrina Murphy said 60% of the money has already been raised through private fundraising efforts. The public phase of the campaign aims to raise the remaining $1 million. Leadership has already found donors ready to match an additional $1 for every $3 donated by the public through December 2019.

Since opening in 2016, the Landing Y has grown its membership to 800.

The Y hopes the rent money it saves by purchasing the building can be redirected to programs and scholarships. Today, the Y plans to kick off the “One Y For All” capital campaign at 4:30 p.m. at the Bath Y, followed by an informal open house at the Landing Y from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday.

“We’re one Y, we’re for all people and we’re reaching out on the greater community,” Murphy said. “All of the programs we do are under three focused areas: healthy living, social responsibility and youth development. One of the biggest things we do under social responsibility — we’re charitable and people can receive financial aid to attend any YMCA program so we don’t turn people away. We’re accessible for all.”

In April 2019, there were more than 5,000 active members between both Ys, and in all 15,648 people came to use the facilities.

That includes before- and after-school programs held at five schools in Bath, Brunswick, Woolwich and West Bath. There are three pre-K classrooms, and the Y serves summer meals for kids over the summer. The Y also offers the Freedom Tour program, a sort of history course that culminates with an annual trip to Washington DC and national historic sites for Mt. Ararat Middle School and Brunswick Junior High students.

In 2018, the Y served people from 13 communities from Bath to Harpswell to Wiscasset. It had 6,030 participants and awarded 520 scholarships.

Bill Haggett, former CEO at Bath Iron Works, pushed for the construction of the Bath Y and led the capital campaign 20 years ago. Now he’s returned to lead the capital campaign for the rest of the year.

The old YMCA in downtown Bath was the second oldest YMCA in the U.S., Haggett said Monday. The 84-year-old started attending the Y on Summer Street in 1940 when he was 6 years old.  

“My friends and I would meet at the YMCA, play basketball and learned how to play ping-pong and pool, and that was our outlet,” he said. “And I grew up in the YMCA and ended up playing sports at Morse as an older kid, but it all started at the Y.”

But the building grew old and tired. After returning to Bath in the late 1990s after managing shipyards in Canada, he approached the Bath Y board about building a new YMCA.

He offered to chair the capital campaign and spent a year raising more than $7 million.

“I’ve just been delighted with what that YMCA has accomplished,” he said. “I have a personal thing about seeing young people involved.”

Between the swim team, gymnastics team, the Freedom Tour, “they’re making a huge contribution to people in this area who have children.”

Barbara Johnson, center, leads a Zumba class at the Landing Y in Brunswick Monday. At left, Patsy Shaffer, and Margaret Mayo follow her lead. (Darcie Moore / The Times Record)

He’s been pleased with the cross-section of people using the Bath Y and it’s not just kids.

“It’s the hundreds of adults in there, including seniors like myself who use the YMCA every single day and play pickleball and swim and work out and have programs in the swimming pool. It’s just a wonderful outlet for people and it’s great for both physical and mental health.”

Susan Whorff of Brunswick was playing racquetball with co-worker Blakely Goodwin of Topsham after work at the Landing Y Monday.

She recently moved back to the area and got her Y membership immediately, which gives her access to the Brunswick and Bath facility.

“There are benefits to both. There are classes at both. The hours are great,” Whorff said.

She enjoys the variety of events, including pilates, pickleball, Zumba and barre body workouts. She’s at the Y at least five nights a week.

“It’s not about who’s the most fit,” Whorff said. “It’s about the community like it always has been at the Y.”

For more information about the fundraising efforts or to donate visit bathymca.org/oneYforall.

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