After a period of renovation and construction, the Central Lincoln County (CLC) YMCA in the small town of Damariscotta, Maine hosted its grand re-opening yesterday afternoon. Since the late 1980s, the YMCA has been a community hub for the region’s residents, offering exercise facilities, childcare and summer camp programs. The decades had taken their toll, however. The structure was built in 1973, serving as a recreational center before being purchased by the YMCA, so it needed upgrades to continue meeting the community’s needs.
With the help of a fundraising campaign and financing from Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI)—a community development financial institution and participant in the Uplift America Fund—the CLC YMCA underwent a renovation and expansion that will allow it to cater to the region’s young and old alike. Overall financing for the renovations was almost $8 million, with $2.46 million supplied by CEI through the Community Facilities Relending Program. CEI works in Maine and across the country to revitalize rural regions and gateway cities and increase the availability of good jobs. The additional $5.4 million for the YMCA was raised through a three-year community fundraising campaign.
With a 17,000-square-foot expansion, the new YMCA is 25 percent larger and includes a new welcome center, fitness center and space for its first pre-kindergarten classes. An elevator was installed as part of the renovation, making the facility fully accessible as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The YMCA also provides services for senior citizens, including an intergenerational room, which is a meeting space meant to bring together children and elders. Finally, the YMCA is housing two nonprofits - Spectrum Generations, which connects the aging and disabled population in central Maine with resources and activities, and Focus on Agriculture in Rural Maine Schools (FARMS), which heads a teaching kitchen to educate children on good nutrition and local farming.
Thousands of locals will enjoy the expanded facility’s services. The CLC YMCA serves 22,000 residents of ten rural communities within a 25-mile radius. Ten percent of the region’s year-round residents are YMCA members, and the new YMCA is expected to draw 2,100 memberships, plus additional, non-member users. Lincoln County has an 11.3 percent poverty rate, and almost half of the students in the region receive federally subsidized school lunches.
"This project has a significant benefit to the community. In rural areas, these projects become the lifeblood of the community. Ys are all about helping people live better lives," said Elizabeth Rogers, CEI’s Chief Communications Officer.