MERIDEN — The Cuno Foundation awarded $100,000 to the Meriden YMCA this week for the renovation of the pavilion space at the Mountain Mist Day Camp, converting it into a multi-season activity space.
Arts & Education Programming Director Carolyn Daniels crouches up front as children and YMCA staff pose with the check from the Cuno Foundation.
The grant will allow the Y to install rolldown glass doors into its existing pavilion space and a heater, allowing children to make use of it for most of the year. Glass was chosen so that, even when enclosed, visitors can still admire the surrounding forest and camp facilities.
Carolyn Daniels, the arts and education programming director for the Y, filed the grant in hopes of expanding the available programming space for arts and STEM classes, which have grown in attendance over the past few years to over 160 attendees.
According to camp officials, having the enclosed area will allow the camp to expand its offerings and make the pavilion a more versatile event space - able to easily move the sliding doors up and down depending on the weather - making it usable for activities in and out of the usual camp season.
“We need this space, because we are growing it and we do so many things at the Y that we just need a new space,” Daniels said. “It will allow us to have different programs going simultaneously in different places. So we can have something over at our art garage, and we can have something over at MYT, and we can have something here, and we can have something in the classroom, all going at the same time or even during the week, being able to use this as well if other things are being utilize d.” The Y already has several bids out for contractors to complete the project, with hopes of starting work immediately and having it completed within the next several months ahead of the spring season. However if they’re not able to find a contractor who can complete the work in time, they will delay the work until the fall of next year when the camp is out of season, so they can make use of the pavilion during that time.
The grant was presented at the pavilion itself with members of the YMCA board, Cuno Foundation, children from the Y arts programs, and state Sen. Jan Hochadel in attendance. The children were invited up along with CEO John Benigni to receive the massive $100,000 check.
According to both Benigni and Daniels, the true value of the pavilion renovation is being able to expand the offerings of their programming block well beyond the usual season - giving children an outlet to learn and try new skills even outside of fitness and sports.
“I really think that this pavilion is going to provide opportunities to some non-traditional programs that otherwise people don't necessarily think YMCA,” said Benigni. “Everyone knows we have a basketball court, everyone knows that we do soccer and fitness and things like that, but now they're going to recognize that we do a growing youth theater program, dance, STEM, and the homeschool groups that we do, etc. They are going to be able to come here no matter what the weather, and enjoy this great property.”
Members of the Cuno Foundation, a local charitable organization that has supported the Y in the past, noted that they were happy to continue to support the organization, which they felt has been a pillar for many in the community, young and old.
“It's so much more than just a swimming pool, or a science program, or a home learning program, or any of the things - it is a total community,” Molly Savard, vice chairperson of the foundation said. “I myself have been to many, many events here. So that we understand that it's a good thing to renovate and enclose it. We are really very pleased to be able to give this and look forward to seeing the results.”
By Christian Metzger, Record-Journal staff