“Our pool is our main attraction!” states Charlie Clifford, Executive director of the YMCA in Milford, about the Z-shaped, enclosed-in-glass, retractable-glass-roofed pool and family oriented facility. “Families can spend time together either structured or on their own.” As the ED for the last four years and a family man himself, Charlie runs the Woodruff family YMCA branch of the Central CT coast YMCA and he understands what families need.
Balancing fund raising with community development, this busy ED sites one of his projects, a national movement called “Activate America” as the Y’s response to obesity and diabetes in the country.
His pet projects involve fund raising. “First and foremost, we are a charity! A 501c3 and the Y doesn’t turn anyone away because of their inability to pay.” Those who can’t afford to pay are benefited by the “Strong Kids Campaign”, a scholarship drive which generates funds for people who can’t afford the Y’s fees. “We gave $200,000 in scholarships last year to over 600 individuals. We raised about $110, 000. The challenge is how to fund the gap. We aren’t going to turn away the kids that need our services. “
A natural tie in the to Y’s fund raising efforts is the Sprint Triatholon (swim, run, bike) all based out of the Y. Last year they had 90 participants and they are hoping to double that this year on May 22nd.
As a father himself he understands that Milford has a lot of dual income families. “Parents are still struggling with money and kids need a safe place to go after school. The scholarships really provide a place for them to go. For our summer camp, 96% of kids were on scholarships for the entire summer”.
A great example of a collaborative effort within the community is their work with Platt Tech called “ Fit club”. “The principal was telling me that one of the fears is that the kids weren’t passing the President’s Physical Fitness test due to overweight and inactivity problems. We started raising money so they could come across the street and our staff takes them through making healthier lifestyle choices. Because they are coming over here their scores have improved quite a bit.”
Charlie’s development projects deal with how to best position the Y to deal with the physical aspects of the “ health seeker” or someone who tries to live healthy and struggles. “We design anything new, large or small, with the health seeker in mind to make this the most comfortable place they can come “.
Located at 631 Orange Ave in Milford, this branch is open from5:30am-9pm and sees about 450-600 people every day. “We have standard fitness classes like zumba, pilates, yoga, and H2O Power, a senior morning aerobics class.
Still another project aimed at families is the “Milford Collaborative”, a group of providers and parents of kids with special needs. “You are connecting the Y’s resources with what the community needs. We ebb and flow and are more of a community development YMCA. More ground up than national down.”
The Y has many child-care programs from summer care to nursery school and is the largest provider of child-care in Milford. Charlie is their most energetic an enthusiastic advocate about what this non profit is trying to accomplish for kids and for families. “All this stuff is brand new and at our gym you could have a 14 year old next to someone who is 90 years old who looks 50 years old. People of all abilities can come”, says the YMCA’S family man.