Saying goodbye: Memories shared at Westport Weston Family Y's final annual meeting downtown
There's little time left, but no shortage of memories will be left behind.
The Westport Weston Family Y held its 90th annual meeting Monday evening -- the last that will take place in its downtown headquarters, which has been sold to make way for a multi-use commercial complex to be called Bedford Square.
By the end of summer, Y officials said the new Bedford Family Center will be open on the Mahackeno campus in the northern section of town.
"Our anticipation is early in September," Family Y Executive Director Rob Reeves said of the new complex. "Hopefully, around Labor Day weekend."
"We're celebrating the 90th annual meeting of the membership in this historical building today," he said. "When we meet a year from now, we will be in the new building."
For many people, such as longtime Board of Trustees member Tammy Pincavage, the change comes with mixed emotions. "I'm excited to move on to a wonderful new building," she said, "but I do have some nostalgia."
In particular, she said, her two daughters, now in their 30s, took dance lessons at the Y when they were children.
"I spent a lot of time here for many years," she said, "especially with the girls." Tap, ballet and jazz were among the Family Y offerings they took advantage of, and Pincavage remembered the many days waiting outside the studio door on the second floor of the original Bedford building for them to finish.
Pincavage noted, however, many people have spent a great deal of time working to make the new Y a reality, so there is satisfaction as well that the project is nearly complete. "We're excited," she said.
"My sons both went through child care here," said Rose DeLuca, the Family Y's IT director, who began her professional association with the Y 14 years ago and her personal ties a year before that.
"Six days after I moved to Westport," she said, her children signed up for Y programs. "It was a very good place for the boys to grow up."
Others echoed the sentiment, including 16-year-old Caroline O'Kane, who has been active in the Y's gymnastics program for a decade.
"I started here in second grade and I've been in the gymnastic program since then," she said, having traveled around the world with her friends and teachers.
"They're like my best friends," she said. "Not to sound cliched, but it's like my second home."
Along with its business agenda, Monday's meeting included the sharing of memories about some of the Y's greatest supporters -- from founder Edward T. Bedford to benefactors such as Lucie McKinney and Allen Raymond Jr., both of whom died this spring.
"This was his dream," First Selectman Jim Marpe said of his longtime friend Raymond.
If Raymond were there today, Marpe said, "He would say how much the Y has meant to him and his family over the years, and while he's sad to leave the old building, he's really excited to go to the new one."
The Family Y has recognized Raymond's support for the organization over the years -- including a $500,000 donation to its building campaign -- by naming the entrance road to the new complex, Allen Raymond Lane.
"My wife and I met here in Westport back in the '80s," said David Blansfield, who, along with his wife, Lourdes, worked out at the Family Y.
"It's rather ironic," he said, as the couple was on hand Monday to see their 17-year-old son, Jonathan, honored for his work in the aquatics program, which helped him win a scholarship to attend Northwestern University this year.
"This building is really special," Jonathan said. "This is where I've grown up. This is my childhood."