Family Night at Hartford PreK Magnet School

The after school enrichment program at Hartford PreKindegarten Magnet School held their first family night for program participants. Our family’s had a great time! The children shared their favorite things to do at the Y with their families. In addition, they played games, listened to music and had healthy snacks. We had about 95% of our family’s stay for the event. The families are thrilled with the activities that their children participate in on a daily basis. One parent even commented that the YMCA program offers more learning opportunities for her child than other programs do. This is one of the many reasons why the Wilson Gray YMCA prides itself on youth and family development.Family Night Oct

Touching Story.

Below is a touching story from Jen Madley, a staff member at the Tri- Town YMCA:

As many of you know, I have taken on a full-time position with the Rare Reminder. However, I have been able to work on a per diem basis at Emerson Williams and Kids Night Out. On my first day back, the children greeted me with a “group hug”, which started back in September, when I noticed two other children pushing each other on the playground. I asked this particular child if what they were doing was “good” contact or “bad” contact. The child responded “bad,” I then asked for an example of what good contact would be, he said  “a hug”, I asked him if he needed a hug, because good contact was better than “bad” contact (pushing). To my surprise he said yes, so I said “group hug” and he again replied “yes”. Since then, when I go to Emerson and ask for a group hug, I get a bunch of children running up to me with open arms, laughing and giggling. This is one of the many reasons I love teaching at the Y and being part of their program. There are so many children that sometimes go a day without a hug and to a child that is huge. So when I call a group hug at Emerson, I know that those children are having a positive moment that they will remember for a very long time.

5th Annual Wine Tasting Event

The 5th Annual Wine Tasting Event hosted by the West Hartford and Camp Jewell YMCA is fast approaching! It takes place this Saturday, November 16th, from 6-11 PM at the West Hartford Town Hall. There will be delicious hors d’oeuvres from our restaurant sponsors, numerous auction items and of course, lots of wine, which will make for some hilarious dancing on the dance floor. However, while all of that is great, it’s not why I’m so passionate about this event. I’m passionate about it because all of the proceeds benefit our Strong Kids Campaign, which is the foundation on which we are able to accomplish our mission of building strong kids, strong families and strong communities.

This event, along with our many other efforts throughout the year, gives us the ability to offer YMCA scholarships, help cancer survivors feel alive with our LIVESTRONG program, bring over 500 children to summer camp and much more. EVERY child and family deserves to experience our programs, regardless of their financial situation.

It’s been an honor to be able to help out with this event and I can’t wait for all of the hard work that has gone into it to come to fruition!

 Wine Tasting Event


Upon arrival to work today, I logged into our Facebook page with the intent of posting a Veteran’s Day greeting for our members and friends.  I accessed our timeline, and was greeted with the following message:

“Month of Thanksgiving, Day 9. Today, as we get ready to head out to gymnastics, I am thankful for the Wheeler Ymca. Not only do they provide great activities for my little one, but their Infant/Toddler center can’t be beat. It’s hard to leave my kiddo to go to work everyday, but it brings some peace to know she’s in amazing hands. She is so well cared for every day.” 

This struck me as remarkable in so many ways – the sentiments themselves are incredibly sincere and complimentary, which is incredible in and of itself.  What really stunned me was the realization that our members are so deeply vested in their Y, so appreciative, so connected, that they’re actually counting it in lists of things for which they’re grateful.  This is both humbling and motivating…we’re going to continue to strive for outstanding service to our community and to carry on our mission in order to improve the lives of everyone around us.

Erica Donovan
Wheeler Regional Family YMCA

Surprise By Mail

About a month ago, I received an email from one of our local second-grade teachers inquiring about the possibility of a field trip to our Y.  Each year, the second-graders work on a community unit, and it typically includes civil services such as the fire department and the police department.  This particular teacher has personally become involved with the Y over the last few years, participating in our O’Mazing Race with her co-workers and volunteering with our First Wave program.  This year, she thought it might be a good idea to branch out from the usual suspects in town for the community unit, and decided to include the library, our local food pantry, and the Wheeler Y!

With a bit of trepidation, I prepared a scavenger hunt of sorts incorporating a tour of the building with opportunities for questions.  I also enlisted Stacia’s help to engage the group in some fun, outdoor physical activity.  The buses arrived last Wednesday, laden down with 62 seven-year-old kids….they had a blast!!  Stacia and I so enjoyed our time with them, and clearly they did as well, as we received this hand-signed card in the mail yesterday.


Erica Donovan
Wheeler Regional Family YMCA

Challenges Bring People Together…..

Last Sunday I ran the New York City Marathon and it was probably the best sporting event I have ever taken part in. Having run several of the larger marathons, including Boston and Chicago, my expectations of running New York were not that big. However, as my day unfolded on Sunday I was amazed at what I experienced.

First of all, I had heard that New York, more so than any other marathon, is considered “The People’s Marathon”, I now understand why.  From the time I left my hotel at 5:30am until the time I returned at 3:00pm I was surrounded by “friends”. I made friends on the subway, the ferry to Staten Island, in the runners village, on the course and then in the finishing corrals.  I listened to people’s stories of how they got there, why they wanted to run a marathon and what their dreams were after the marathon.  People coming together on one day for a common goal…to complete a life’s dream.

I think because entry into the New York Marathon is a lottery, which means anyone can run it if they get in, allows the everyday person to take part in something spectacular and for that, there is an excitement I had never experienced before.

What did I take away from this experience? I realized, as I often do when I take part in events like this, that when you bring people together and particularly when they are doing something challenging to them, it draws them together.

This is the type of community we strive to build everyday at each of our YMCA’s. The more challenges we present them with, whether it be with a challenging class, workout or program, it encourages them to gain inspiration and strength from those around them and  this in turn, strengthens our Y community.

So…let’s all continue to raise the bar high for our members…stretch them beyond what they ever thought they were capable of!!


SMcDowell- Downtown


Made Me Smile :)

We have a winner for the Candy Corn Guessing Contest we held at the Pumpkin Carnival & Halloween Stroll on October 25th!

I had the honor of calling the lucky ten year-old girl who won and letting her know that out of the 80 guesses we received, she was the closest! There were 2,002 candy corn in the jar and she was only two off, guessing 2,000. How amazing is that?? As I talked to her mother on the phone, telling her when she could come and pick up her daughter’s prize, I could hear the young girl yelling in happiness in the background.

Apparently, the young girl had found an injured baby squirrel in her backyard that day and was very upset (how adorable). Finding out that she had won our contest cheered her up and it brightened my day to be able raise her spirits. Candy Corn Contest

Spooky Fun at Wilson-Gray YMCA

Saturday October 26th marked another year of Wilson-Gray YMCA Annual Halloween Event. Over 286 families traveled to the Albany Avenue to enjoy our Haunted House and Monster Bash. With the help of our volunteers from our teen department, college students, Compass Peace builders and members we were able to bring safe fun to the north end of Hartford. This year festivities were a combination of fun for our young tots and fright for our adults. Our tiny tots enjoyed game night which included foosball, ghost badminton, skull bowling and bean bag toss. For those who dare to be scared you would have to walk through our 1st floor to experience our haunted house. We all are grateful for the opportunities given for members, staff and volunteers to impact our community.

Spooky Fun

Spooky Fun2 Spooky Fun3

Valencia Williams

Membership Director

Wilson-Gray YMCA Youth and FamilyCenter


Pumpkin Carnival & Halloween Stroll

The West Hartford YMCA had so much fun with everyone last week at the Pumpkin Carnival & Halloween Stroll. Seeing children and parents dressed up and having a blast in their costumes put a big smile on my face. Most of my time is spent working in our office, so I love whenever I am able to see and interact with everyone at our events. It reminds me why I love working at the Y!

Halloween Stroll3

Halloween Stroll2

Halloween Stroll

Wheeler’s Golden Tickets

“Golden Tickets” are awarded to our members that are spotted for doing something really special, helping out another member, achieving a goal or just because they are flat out AWESOME!  Numerous members have received golden tickets this month and I’d like to recognize one of our members, Angela Fasold, and explain why she received her golden ticket.Angela is a huge advocate of our YMCA and is considered one of our Member Ambassador’s.  She is always there to help guide new members, answers any questions that they may have, introduces them to other members with same interests and pushes all of our programs for the adults and children.

Angela can also be found decorating a driveway with sidewalk chalk, streamers and signs.  One of our members, Miriam Correa, completed her first century bike ride (100 miles).  Angela and her team of “do-gooders” placed congratulatory signs along Miriam’s front yard, wrote on her driveway and hung balloons!  Another member, Daren Casey, completed a very difficult Half IRONMAN (The SavageMan).  Angela was at Daren’s house with signs, balloons, streamers and her sidewalk chalk.  Our Nutritionist, Andrea Buono, completed another Ultramarathon (100 mile run) and where was Angela?  She was found at Andrea’s house placing signs and decorating her driveway and yard.  Jen Cambi lost her very precious pet, Cody, a couple of months ago and quickly adopted another dog named Cooper.  Angela wrote a letter to the Cambi family.  This letter was from their beloved dog Cody in Heaven to Cooper letting Cooper know that his new family will love him unconditionally and that he is one very lucky dog to have them.

These acts of kindness is what makes Angela so very special.  We cannot thank you enough Ang for everything that you do for the YMCA and our members!