BELFAST — It is rare when an organization can attract a cross section of the community. Even more uncommon is when the same organization can do that every day.

The Waldo County YMCA is one such organization.

“It’s about connecting with people,” said Waldo YMCA Director Russell Werkman. “Our programming is designed to make those connections, with as many people as possible.”

It’s clearly working.

With programs aimed at the youngest and oldest, and everyone in between, the Waldo County Y covers its patrons from womb to tomb.

“There is a lot going on here,” Werkman said, “and that’s the way we like it.”

For Waldo County’s youngest citizens, program options range from child care to competition.

Faith Boynton is youth development director at the Waldo County Y.

“Our youth programs offer a wide range of care and activities for childcare,” Boynton said. “Currently, our child care department has over 90 children that attend Preschool, Bus Stop Care or Teen Time. Each of those programs have quality that are trained to work with that special age group.”

Boynton points out that child care at the Y includes developmental activities that are age-appropriate, fun, and keep with the YMCA value system. She also notes the impact the Y has had on her own family.

“I feel as though coming here has not only been a blessing for me, but for my family,” Boynton said. “My children have had the opportunity to grow up in such a positive environment and have learned many skills through all the programs at our Y.”

Swim and fitness classes for kids are also offered, as well as cornhole and other quieter pursuits. All activities incorporate the Waldo County YMCA’s area of focus that include youth development, healthier living and social responsibility. They also incorporate the Y’s core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.

“All of our programming is aligned with these values,” Werkman said.

The Waldo County YMCA keeps the ball rolling all summer with a variety of summer day camps for children of all ages.

For young adults the programming options are extensive. The fitness facilities include state-of-the-art weight rooms and cardio suites, a wide array of fitness and swim classes, and competitive sports like volleyball, basketball and pickleball.

The Waldo County YMCA has state-of-the-art fitness facilities. Photo by Jim Leonard

Sue Lapham runs the Active Older Adults program at the Waldo County Y. Programs for this group run from the standard health and fitness offerings to mahjong, book clubs and seminars on estate planning, healthy cooking and watercolor painting. Much of the active older adult programming is open to non-members.

“The monthly luncheons and many of the daily activities are free to non-Y members,” Lapham said. “They are designed to help our active older adults make connections. Some of those connections won’t translate into a membership, and that’s OK. It’s more about people being able to interact with their peers.”

The Active Older Adults program also does activity-based and scenic day trips and has also taken international trips such as a planned excursion to Scotland in October.

When most people think of a YMCA, they think of swimming. The Waldo County Y does indeed have a pool, and it’s popular.

Aquatics programming at the Waldo County YMCA is extensive, and very popular. Photo by Jim Leonard

Outside of the swim instruction, for infants to the elderly, the pool also hosts competitive swim teams.

Carolyn Steeves is the aquatics director at the Waldo County Y.

“Our swim team generally gets up to 100 kids,” Steeves said. “Lifeguard courses are also very popular and a great take-anywhere job. Swim lessons for children always fill up fast, and private lesson requests come in every day.”

The breadth of the programming is impressive. Perhaps more impressive is the willingness of the staff to make the connections necessary to fulfill the mission.

Boynton feels grateful to see so many people involved in Waldo County YMCA programs.

“The Y as a large impact on our community with membership, programs, fitness and a place to belong,” Boynton said. “Each day we have community members coming into our facility, not only to live a healthier lifestyle, but to see their friends, make memories and enjoy a safe place that they can be themselves. Anyone and everyone is welcome at (the Waldo County Y), no matter what their age.”