Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Kids' Korner Helps Amazing Grace Food Pantry

YMCA Kids' Korner Before and After School Programs located at the elementary schools in Middletown, Cromwell and Portland were given the challenge of helping local families during the holiday season by donating food items to Amazing Grace Food Pantry. This friendly competition to "stuff the YMCA van" turned into a collection of over 600 items that were delivered to Amazing Grace on Wednesday, December 23rd. Parents, children and staff at Kids' Korner worked hard to collect items and teach the children about the spirit of giving.

While all our Kids' Korner sites contributed food donations, Moody School Kids' Korner was the big winner with over 150 items donated. Not far behind was Woodside Intermediate School Kids' Korner in Cromwell with 100 items. For their tremendous efforts, Moody Kids' Korner will be enjoying a special movie and popcorn party for their half day this afternoon.

Thank you to all our staff, parents and children who helped to make this project a huge success. This is a great example of how the Middlesex YMCA is a community of caring people who support families, build character and promote wellness. Have a safe and happy holiday season.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Active Older Adult Reception

On Wednesday, December 16th our Active Older
Adult Aquatic Instructors were recognized for their years of hard work and outstanding service.
Those recognized and their years of service are:
Perry Kollias, 14 years; Mary Dickes, Denise Levy and Mary McGiveron all with 12 years; Evelyn Siewert, 11 years; Carmen Scollo, 8 years; Sue Bright, 7 years; Shirley Pattavina, 3 years; Reed Bartman, 2 and lastly Susan Dunn, Sarah Pickert and Frances Helfrant all with one year of outstanding service.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Preschooler's Swimming

The Preschool children at the Phelps Ingersoll Center for Children at the Northern Middlesex YMCA have been enjoying there new activity of taking swimming lessons and learning about water safety. For many of the children, this has been their first experience with water and learning to swim. Almost everyone has taken to the experience like ducks to water. The children have been learning about safety around the water and in the water. As the pictures show, Ms. Liz is going over some safety rules with the children and then the children get to practice the skills they are learning in the water. Two of the three classroom have gone through the 5 week session of lessons and the last classroom will start their lessons on January 4th.
This has been a great opportunity for our children, and parents have been excited that the center would offer swimming. A donation was given to the center to provide the initial experience and the center hopes that parents will take advantage of a sliding fee scale to sign up for another round of lessons. Many of the families are on fixed incomes so any discounts are greatly appreciated to offset the cost. For many families this has been the first time their child has been around the water. Helping children feel comfortable and make safe choices around the water will be a useful lesson throughout their life and the center is happy that we could be a part of it.
If you are ever at the "Y" on Monday's from 10-11, come check out the small pool and see us swim!


I have just celebrated my 19th year with the Northern Middlesex YMCA. What a journey it has been. When I started at the Y my colleagues teased me that I would be following in the footsteps of my Aunt Jane Sullivan who worked at the YMCA for over 40 years. The thought of being in one place for an extended period of time did not appeal to the 24 year old version of me. The Y has a way of sucking you in! The Y became home, a place that has been both nurturing of my individual strengths and demanding of personal growth and dedication. My Y story is simple; I met my husband at the YMCA Camp Ingersoll, brought both my children into the world while employed at the YMCA, and made lifelong friendships. I am extremely proud that my work and effort has positively impacted thousands of young people. I can’t imagine the last nineteen years without the Y in my life.

I am proud of the impact the YMCA has on the overall wellness of the community. The YMCA impacts so many lives through health and fitness programs, our men’s residence, high quality early childhood education and before and after school programs, mentoring at risk youth, camp and summer programs, swim lessons, and more. If you ask a YMCA staff person why they work for the Y they will talk about the people that they meet, help, and provide encouragement to each day. There are so many stories of how the YMCA has enriched people’s lives and those stories are important to share. Your stories are examples of how the Y is a community asset providing value to members and their families, to employees past and present, and to the community as a whole. I hope that you will consider sharing your Y story with us. How has the YMCA made a difference in your life? Send your Y story to and I will post it on our blog. I can’t wait to read about the different historical perspectives and impact that the Y has had over the years.

Kids' Korner Honors Role Models

Yesterday, students of the YMCA Kids’ Korner Before and After School Programs at Macdonough School honored the adults that inspire them.

Each child created a special “You Are My Role Model” certificate which included a personalized message and/or picture. The students wrote very appreciative and moving messages to their adult role models that expressed the reasons why they find them important. Attached to the top corner of each certificate was a lapel-button that could be removed and worn by the recipient. The pins are simple black on white and say "I'm Someone's Role Model."

This project started as an assignment from Justin Carbonella of the Middletown Youth Services Bureau. Programs were asked to find a way to visually express some of the "40 Developmental Assets." Search Institute has identified 40 positive experiences and qualities that we all have the power to bring into the lives of children and youth. These "Developmental Assets" represent the relationships, opportunities and personal qualities that young people need to avoid risk behaviors and ultimately develop into healthy adults. Macdonough Kids' Korner chose to begin with asset “#14-Adult Role Models.” As the children started writing their heart-felt messages, it was clear that this project was an important learning experience.

The children have recognized over 30 adults, including their parents, family members and family friends, and several Macdonough School faculty and staff. The recipients’ responses have been overwhelmingly positive. One child’s mother announced that she was going to hang up her certificate at work. One teacher shared, “The role model note brought tears of joy to my eyes. It feels great to know I am appreciated.” Jeremy Hungerford, our school custodian said, “This is just so awesome!” Role Models are now sporting their “I’m Someone’s Role Model” pins on their shirts, and sweaters school-wide. Many others are taking notice of these well-earned accessories.

Other Developmental Assets our Kids’ Korner program will be working on in the upcoming months include #7-Community Values Youth, #33 Interpersonal Competence, and #40 Positive View of Personal Future. On the list of 40 Developmental Assets, “Adult Role Models” may be #14, but today in the North End, it is #1.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Another Great Family Event

The Middlesex YMCA was full of Christmas cheer this Saturday as many families took part in our Breakfast with Santa. We had tons of fun making reindeers, Christmas trees, and our wish lists; all while enjoying a healthy continental breakfast. Santa surprised everyone as he arrived early to talk with the kids and watch as they worked on their crafts and letters. "All of a sudden everyone got this feeling that something magical was going to happen," said Melanie Carfora, "then he, Santa, came around the corner." Christmas carols could be heard from the lobby as everyone, inspired by the big guy, broke out into their favorite holiday song, Jingle Bells.

Children and their families then had a chance to meet Santa one on one as he sat in a rocking chair next to his Christmas tree. They gave him their Christmas letter, told him what they wanted for Christmas, and had their picture taken together. As the morning came to an end, Santa asked the YMCA to bring all the letters he collected to Macy's, who will donate $1 for every letter they receive to the Make a Wish Foundation. A generous end to a great event.

If you missed this Family Fun Event, please be sure to check our website, for a listing of our up coming monthly Family Events. YMCA Family Events are a terrific way to share a memorable experience with your family and not break the bank doing it.

We hope that everyone has a fun and safe holiday together with their friends and family!


Are you feeling stressed out these days? If so, you’re not alone. A recent poll showed 8 in 10 Americans say that they feel stressed out. Based on my conversations with people from all walks of life, I tend to agree with the poll results. Given the state of our economy and the magnitude of challenges that our country faces right now, it is understandable that people are anxious and feeling stressed.

Stress, on a small level, is a good thing in that it triggers a rush of adrenaline to help deal with issues. Prolonged stress however can lead to health problems. So what are some simple things that you can do to help reduce your stress level?

LAUGH! Indeed, laughter can sometimes be the best medicine, as borne out by a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic. Laughter can help to relax muscles, reduce blood pressure and increase heart rate, increase oxygen to organs, and relieve tension. It also increases the release of brain chemicals known as endomorphins, or the “feel good” chemicals. So watch a funny movie or surround yourself with people who have a good sense of humor that will make you laugh. Keep in mind that laughter is contagious, so the more the merrier. You’ll be helping yourself as well as others.
EXERCISE. Like laughter, exercise has the same benefits of laughter with the added plus of keeping your body in shape. Exercise does increase the release of endomorphins. Have you ever noticed how you feel better after exercising, whether it be a brisk walk or a work out in the gym?
SOCIALIZE. Isolation can tend to have people focus on the negative and the feeling that they are alone in dealing with stress related issues. By socializing, you may find that you are not alone and discover some tips that others have found helpful in dealing with difficult situations. Being with others may give you the opportunity to laugh more or find more enjoyment in exercise, both of which are helpful in reducing stress.
EAT AND SLEEP WELL. Stress often leads to poor dietary habits and disrupted sleep, both of which can lead to a vicious cycle. Some of us react to stress by not eating enough and others eat too much. Likewise, stress can affect sleep, with some sleeping too little and others sleeping too much. Recognize which type of person you are and monitor your diet carefully, focusing on foods that are good for you and making sure that you are getting the right amount of calories and nutrition. Eating too soon before bedtime can interrupt sleep. Exercising during the day, but not before bedtime, can also help to give you a better night’s sleep.
TRY TO KEEP A POSITIVE ATTITUDE. Notice that I said “try”. With what some people are facing, that may not be easy if you don’t have a job and are trying to figure out what bills you can or cannot pay. Nevertheless, it is still important not to “sweat the small stuff” and recognize things that you can or cannot change. Once you understand what you can change, you will feel a sense of empowerment as opposed to helplessness in a situation. This ties back to socialization, where talking to others can help you find some solutions to stressful situations. Also, consider volunteering your time for a cause you support. This can help increase your interaction with others and give you a sense of helping others, another “feel good” situation. If you are currently unemployed or underemployed, this is also something good to fill gaps in time, get yourself out of the house and shows well on resumes during a job search.

Hopefully, these simple tips can help you reduce your level of stress. If stress has taken over your life, it is recommended that you consult your doctor, since it can lead to health issues, depression or chronic anxiety.

Here at the Y, we are a community of caring people who support families, build character and promote wellness. We offer the opportunity for you to exercise, socialize, laugh and volunteer. Stop by and see how much better you might feel!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ward Off Winter Weight

Ward off winter weight gain. The average American gains 5 lbs between Thanksgiving and New Years. Don't wait for the New Year to get active. Get a jump on those extra pounds and stay fit through the Holiday Season. A great way to do it.... try one of the 45 free fitness classes available to YMCA members!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

3 Minutes to a better routine

Whether you are a beginner thinking about just starting out, someone just 'getting back to' exercise after a break, or a fitness regular looking for a new challenge. Spend 3 Minutes to read this and learn how to take your 'exercise routine' to a new level.

First, understand that your 'exercise routine' could be taking the stairs instead of the elevator once a day, or running for an hour before work. Whatever you do, Winter is the perfect time of year to add something new, not only to shape up for summer, but to keep the holiday sweets and winter blues in check. If you are reading this you are already in the right frame of mind so keep it up!

Second, whatever you do, you are far more likely to stick with it, if you have FUN while you are working out, so make sure what you are doing is making you happy. If you are new to working out, try a sports-related activity in a low-pressure environment (like the Y!). If you already have a regular workout, is it feeling too routine? Is the challenge gone? Focus on enjoying yourself first, you will get healthier and stronger as long as you make an effort.

Third, if you are new to working out, or if you are having trouble staying motivated, take a class or try sports-related exercise which can give you an immediate network of other people both like, and unlike, you who are pursuing their various fitness goals. In the case of team sports, participants are helping each other achieve their goals, even as they pursue their own.

Fourth, if you already exercise regularly, that is GREAT, but understand that our minds and bodies adapt to the workload we put on them, so if you are doing the same (old) routine, you will stay with the same (old) mind and body! If you push yourself to try something new, you will find there are profound mental and physical rewards that enhance the benefit of working out even further.

Fifth, new ways to exercise are all around you: maybe you will take the stairs, or the farthest parking spot; maybe a swim instead of a run; maybe a game instead of a 'workout'. Why not try Wednesday Winter Water Polo at the Middlesex YMCA? It's free to members right now, it's a lot of fun, it's probably something new to you and it's a great workout!

Join us Wednesday nights at 8:00 PM in the large pool (average temperature 81 degrees) for Winter Water Polo!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Hoops Clinics

Monday December 28th and Tuesday December 29th J.R. Hargreaves from the New England recruiting report will be facilitating Holiday Hoops Clinics at the Middlesex YMCA from 9:00 to 11:30 AM. A great opportunity for aspiring ball player in 1st to 5th grade to spend time with friends, practice skills and learn new moves. Full day care is also available for an additional charge. Contact Melanie Carfora (860) 343-6208 or

Kids Night In

If you missed this past Kids Night In last Friday you have another chance to take advantage of this fun, new family program.

This Friday, December 11th, parents can continue, or if you're like me, start your holiday shopping, go out to dinner or see a movie knowing that your child is safe and engaged in fun activities run by YMCA staff. While you're out, your children (ages 5 - 12) will have an opportunity to participate in gym activities, arts & crafts, Wii games, and tons of other fun games in the Youth Center. Pizza and juice will be served around 6 pm.

Cost is only $10 per child for YMCA members or $20 per child for non members. Families must complete a registration form. For more information please contact Melanie Carfora, 860-343-6208 or

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

BINGO a Huge Success

The crowd was excited as each ball was read aloud. You could hear a pin drop as anxious children and families furiously scanned their cards to see if they had 5 in a row. As the cards filled up you could feel the pressure build until finally one lucky individual had that rare and wonderful sensation start as a tingle in their toes and work its way up through their body and exit their mouth as a loud, "BINGO!"

The Middlesex YMCA's first BINGO night was a great success and the survey results all agreed that these YMCA Family Events are a terrific way to share a memorable experience with your family and not break the bank doing it.

We hope you will join us on Saturday, December 12th at 8:30 AM for Breakfast with Santa. We will be having a light continental breakfast and you can bring a camera to take a picture with Santa. The cost is $5 per child or $10 family maximum.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Camp and Related News

Hey Everyone,

We just wanted to give a brief update about what has been happening out at camp.

On November 11th we had a volunteer day. About ten volunteers helped us install an erosion barrier on the Family Swim Beach. Check out what progress we made and the fun we had on our brand new facebook page.

In related news, on the volunteer day the Earth Service Corps (a brand new teen program) planted cherry trees in the staff parking lot for its first project. If you are interested in learning more about the Corps or getting updates become a fan on our YMCA Earth Service Corps page. There is also a link to our front page article in the New Haven Register!

Family Bingo Night!

The classic game of fun and chance is here and it's free for your family. Please join some of your favorite YMCA staff as each one calls out a new and exciting game of BINGO.

And what's Bingo without prizes? Great prizes include one free Vacation Day Program, YMCA Camp Ingersoll gift certificate, one free personal training session, and YMCA and Camp gear!

Friday November 20, 2009 6:30 to 8:00 pm in the Middlesex YMCA Hazen Room.

See you there!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Middlesex YMCA now has a blog!

Now everyone can follow all of the cool happenings here at the Middlesex YMCA.
This easy to use blog is going to be a great way for our staff to share information and happenings taking place inside the YMCA and throughout all of our program locations.

Check back often to see what's new at your YMCA.