By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Jim Browning is a regular at the YMCA in Westborough, keeping up an exercise routine, then visiting with friends. He's such a dedicated member, the staff recently threw a surprise party for his birthday – his 90th birthday.
Not far from where Jim and his friends were sitting, a tiny girl not even walking yet giggled in the arms of a Y caregiver in the child watch area while her mother worked out.
Jim and the baby illustrate the wide range of clients the Boroughs Family Branch of the YMCA of Central Massachusetts serves, with exercise classes, afterschool and all-day child care, music lessons and jam sessions, swimming, a climbing wall, indoor track, table tennis tournaments, fitness trips and much more.
This Y opened just over 10 years ago, on an 18-acre property atop a hill off Route 20.? It was supposed to be part of an extensive development, but the sagging economy left the Y alone on its hill for now.
“It was an if-you-build-it-they-will-come project,” said Betsy Moquin, director of marketing and advancement. And members came. The demand for services led to an addition, and this Y now serves “easily over a thousand people a day,” with about 13,000 members.
Part of the YMCA of Central Massachusetts based in Worcester, the Boroughs Branch draws from Westborough, Shrewsbury, Northborough, Grafton, Marlborough, Southborough, Hudson, Berlin and Upton. It is funded by membership fees and other payments for its services, but also depends on donations from individuals, its staff, and corporations and on fundraising events such as its annual road race.
“We give out more than we raise, so every dollar is valuable and important,” Moquin said.
The funding supports the Y Access program, which offers reduced-cost services, including exercise classes, children's lessons and summer camp programs, to those needing financial assistance.
Right now, the Boroughs Y is registering kids for its summer camp, which starts at age 3 and goes up to the mid-teens, with the older kids participating in the counselor-in-training program. Most of the camp activities take place at the branch, but the Adventure Camp includes themed programs with field trips. In the past, a baseball program included a tour of Fenway Park and a Pawtucket Red Sox game.
For children, the branch has preschool and before and after school child care, academic enrichment courses, swimming lessons, a climbing wall, competitive swimming and basketball, and a host of other options.? Last year, the computer room was converted into a music studio where kids can take lessons and play in a band, leading up to the spring Battle of the Bands.
For adults, there are exercise and fitness classes, adult basketball and table tennis teams, individual personal training, trips, and classes in first aid and nutrition, just for a start. In April, the Y will start a LiveStrong program, which offers a 12-week course for cancer survivors focusing on exercise and nutrition, working with the participants” doctors.
The Y's facilities include a large indoor pool, full basketball court with an indoor track suspended above it, wellness center with cardio and strength-training machines, spinning room, aerobics studio, and steam and sauna facilities in the locker rooms.
The Boroughs branch is also an active participant in the community, providing physical education facilities for a nearby Muslim school and offering school vacation week options for homeless families staying in local motels. Just recently, the Y has made its spinning equipment available to a group of 18 Shrewsbury high-school students who have a grant to study the Underground Railroad and will be traveling by bicycle for the project. They needed a place to train during the winter months.
“When people come to us with a need, we try to help,” Moquin said.
The Boroughs Y is located at 4 Valente Dr. in Westborough, just off Route 20 across from the Christmas Tree Shop. The Y is open Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Information on programs and rates is available by calling 508-870-1320, and is also on the main YMCA website, www.ymcaofcm.org under Boroughs Family Branch. People are welcome to come in and tour the facility.