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Rotary Breakfast Club makes landmark gift to YMCA outdoor facility

n.Rotary.YMCA

Here with Rotary Club President Lee Upton (r.) are YMCA staff members (from l.) Christopher Paradis, Steve Wallace (CEO), Victoria Stanton and Wil Libby.

The Auburn-Lewiston Rotary Breakfast Club has donated $5,500 toward the development of the YMCA’s Outdoor Education & Learning Center. The gift is the club’s largest single-year contribution in the history of its community giving, which over its 25-year history totals over $459,000 to local and international charitable organizations. The donation will be used for construction of an open-air pavilion and trail kiosk at the 93-acre center, located along Stetson and River Roads in Auburn.

Rotary president Lee Upton formally presented the gift to YMCA CEO Steve Wallace and staffers Wil Libby and Victoria Stanton at the club’s weekly breakfast meeting on June 1. “The object of Rotary is ‘to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise.’” said Upton. “In particular, community service encourages every Rotarian to find ways to improve the quality of life for people in their communities. This project with the YMCA aligns perfectly with our service goal for the people of Auburn and Lewiston.”

The OELC is being developed for hiking and fitness activities, summer camp and a variety of year-round outdoor education workshops for all ages. Work began on the property last spring with the construction of rudimentary trails along Bobbin Mill Brook. Current plans call for the addition of outdoor classrooms and fields, an ADA-accessible trail and community gardens. All construction will be to state park standards, with minimal environmental impact.

“The outpouring of support for this project from funders and community partners like the Rotary Club has been overwhelming,” said Wallace. “When we talk to families and outdoor enthusiasts, the reaction is always the same: ‘We need spaces like this in L-A for our kids and families.’”

Volunteers, grantmaking foundations and individual donors have already pledged more than $200,000 in cash and in-kind contributions. Adding further momentum to the project, the Y has confirmed its partnership with the Maine National Guard’s Innovative Readiness Training Program, which will construct a 40-car lot and potentially a grass field this summer. The Y is seeking an additional $200,000 to complete the current phase of development, including naming rights for pavilions and fields. The next phase will begin in 2018.

The OELC is currently the site of several outdoor youth activities through the Y’s summer camp programs. Campers spend two days a week exploring local wildlife and learning about environmental stewardship. The property will be fully accessible to the public this fall.

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