Campaign continues at Ridgway YMCA

Like so many in Ridgway, Mary Lynne Bellotti’s YMCA experiences stretch back to her early childhood. Although her home was considered to be part of Ridgway, she actually lived about 9 miles out of town. She recalls it was a treat to walk to the YMCA after school; it was a great place to swim, play games or just hang out with friends."You go through many stages in your life," Bellotti said, "and each stage holds its own memories."Although there were several years that she did not attend the Y, she knew it was top priority to come back once her children were born. Bellotti learned to swim at the Y and she knew that her children deserved the same opportunities that she had as a child growing up in Ridgway. She was fortunate enough to have the same instructor for her children as she had as a child, both she and her children were taught by longtime YMCA director Jack Overbeck. It was during this return to the YMCA that Bellotti fell in love with the Y all over again. To her, "there [is] no other place quite like it" and with a sense of family that is imbedded in this community institution, she couldn’t imagine going anywhere else."Everyone works with you, understands who you are and what you are about," Bellotti said.Seventeen years ago, Bellotti started her journey at the Y by teaching gymnastics, water aerobics and lifeguarding. Six years later she made one of her biggest career-changing moves: she became the executive director of the Ridgway YMCA. When she began her directorship, they only had two to three fitness classes and a couple pieces of exercise equipment. Now there are 27 classes offered each week, an entire fitness room full of cardio equipment, a cheerleading program and a pool dedicated to over 10,000 people each year taking swim lessons, fitness classes or just having some family fun. Bellotti has a staff of 31 employees, who she describes as "awesome." This fine group of individuals is dedicated to the Y’s values: caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility. She feels that with the help of her staff, Board of Directors, and the continued support of the community she will continue to move the YMCA forward."It’s a good feeling that we are able to offer so much too so many," Bellotti said.Pick up a copy of the Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.